2015 Porsche Macan Introduction

When Porsche product planners set out to fill the gap in the ever-growing small SUV segment, they knew they couldn't compromise. Enter the 2015 Porsche Macan (pronounced with soft vowels: mah-kahn), a new vehicle in the Porsche lineup. With the same race-bred performance Porsche lends to all of its vehicles, the Macan is not the usual stuff of soccer moms and dads. Like its larger counterpart the Cayenne, the Macan offers power and road manners that rival many sportscars, plus more space and even a bit of brawn.

Although one might be tempted to dismiss it as a shrunken Cayenne, the 2015 Porsche Macan has its own character, built from the ground up. Its platform is based on sister company Audi's Q5 crossover, but the Macan isn't simply a rebadge job; about 70 percent of the Macan's parts are new or modified.

Design of the 2015 Porsche Macan contains familiar elements that are clearly Porsche. Although from the front, especially in light colors, the Macan's nose looks uncharacteristically high off the ground, beset by a giant wide front grille, the signature slanted Porsche headlights are still easily recognizable, as well as the wraparound clamshell hood, which is made of lightweight aluminum. From the side, one can see the Porsche flyline, the gentle sloping curve that creates the silhouette shared by all Porsche vehicles.

The Macan is available in two variants, though the nomenclature can be confusing to those familiar with Porsche's lineup, as both models use turbocharged engines. The Macan S is powered by a new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that makes 340 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. Macan Turbo is powered by a 3.6-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 good for 400 hp and 406 lb.-ft. of torque. Both models come standard with Porsche's 7-speed, dual-clutch PDK transmission. Fuel economy is the same for both models with an EPA-estimated 17/23/19 miles per gallon City/Highway/Combined.

Porsche's active all-wheel-drive system varies how much power goes to either axle, depending on road conditions and terrain. This makes the Macan suitable for driving in all conditions, including snow and rain. In normal driving, 100 percent of the torque is sent to the rear, creating that true Porsche rear-wheel-drive feel. An off-road mode allows the Macan to handle moderate unpaved hills, mud and ruts.

If there were one drawback to the Porsche Macan, it would be that prices add up fast. While the base Macan S is perfectly capable for everyday driving, the vehicle's full potential is only realized with a number of pricey packages and options. Most notably, the adjustable air suspension makes a big difference in ride and handling, as does the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus system (which automatically transfers torque between wheels for better grip and performance while cornering).

If you want the Sport Plus setting, launch control and a faster 0-60 time, you must opt for the Sport Chrono package. These three aforementioned options alone add more than $5,500 to the price tag. And that's not even scratching the surface of the Macan's plethora of options. Of course, this isn't unusual for Porsche, but bear in mind you will be shelling out thousands of dollars on top of the base price for the best performance.

Competitors to the 2015 Porsche Macan include other small luxury SUVs such as the Audi SQ5, which rides on the same platform on which the Macan is based, and is powered by a 354-hp supercharged V6. Less expensive alternatives include the BMW X3, which offers more cargo space, and the Mercedes-Benz GLK. Those going for form over function might also consider the Range Rover Evoque, which boasts brand cachet and an avant-garde design, but fails to measure up to the Macan when it comes to rear-seat space and cargo capacity.

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