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Sizing Up the Newest Compact SUV

2015 Porsche Macan

I really should have known better than when I entered the Northtown Porsche showroom last week and asked to see the new Macan. Either I was thinking it was an Irish name, or else maybe I had bacon on my mind. At any rate, for those of you who’d rather not sound like a rube (or like me—same thing) it’s pronounced “muh-CON” which comes from the Indonesian word for tiger

The Macan is Porsche’s entry in the compact SUV class, one which in their press release Porsche envisions you actually going off-road in. I suppose, that if you’re the one paying almost 50 grand (or more. Much more.) for your new vehicle, who’s to say you can’t go off into the woods with it if you want to? Porsche goes on further to tell us that the Macan, like the tiger, is powerful and ready to pounce at any time, yet light-footed and tenacious on off-road terrain. That sounds tiger-like to me.

The size certainly looks right, especially compared to its larger sibling the Cayenne, which seems a bit large for throwing around the trail (not to mention, with the Cayenne Turbo having a starting price of $113,600 a bit too dear for the rough stuff).

All Wheel Drive is standard on all Macans, which come in S and Turbo models (stating at $49,900 and $72,300 respectively). They also have what’s got to be one of the coolest names for the standard automatic transmission, which they shorten to PDK, but is actually named Porsche Doppelkupplung. It’s, in simpler language, a seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters. There are two engines; which one you get depends on whether you chose the Turbo or not. Standard on the Macan S is a 3.0L V6 twin turbo which puts out 360 hp. The Macan Turbo, on the other hand, has a 3.6L twin turbo under the hood, rated at 400 hp with a zero-to-60 time of 4.6 seconds, and Porsche reports a top track speed of 164 mph. That’s pretty quick for a compact SUV.

Porsche also mentions in their marketing materials that the Macan’s optional Sport Exhaust System, in Black, no less, “...combines a powerful sound with a masculine appearance.” Sounds like they’re only trying to appeal to about half of their prospective audience there. How’d that ever get approved?

The Macan, compact though it might be, is still roomy inside for four—five if three of them are kids. I had no trouble getting into the driver’s seat, and once in had plenty of head and leg room. Getting in the back seat was a bit more of a chore, as those big wheels cut into what could have been a larger door opening. And I didn’t have a lot of leg room with the driver’s seat set for my six-foot height so, like I said, the kids’ll be okay back there.

On the center console you’ll find a Sport button, which when pushed kicks-in the electronic engine management system. Quicker engine response, higher redline, and different shift points all combine with a different engine sound to add up to an even sportier driving experience.

Styling is very Porsche-like. From the front and the back it looks a bit like a shrunken Cayenne. The side view reminded me of many small SUVs on the road today. I guess there’s only so much you can do to differentiate yourself and remain in the same category. At least they’re all attractive for the most part.

Porsche has provided a lengthy option list which enables buyers to enhance the Macan’s appearance, performance, comfort, and safety. The Mahogany Macan Turbo we were perusing at Northtown, with options, stickered at $88,775. And it had just been sold. I’d love to find out if the owner is planning on going off-road with it anytime soon.

more info at: porsche.com/usa.

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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