Porsche has finally unveiled its much-anticipated Macan (pronounced ‘Ma-khan’) premium compact SUV – the Stuttgart firm’s sixth and most affordable model line, joining the 918 Spyder, 911, Panamera, Cayenne and Boxster/Cayman – yet it’s far from the last new entrant we’ll see from Porsche.
Talking frankly at the Macan’s international launch in Leipzig (the German town in which it’s built), company chairman Matthias Muller expressed his desire for a broader model spread, saying: “In our opinion, seven model series would be a good line-up”.
Given that the average lifespan of each Porsche model is seven years, that would mean one major model launch every year – a crucial brand-builder in an era defined by self-promotion.
Porsche sales have doubled over the past four years – from 80,000 in 2009 to 162,000 in 2013 – and the Macan is expected to contribute at least another 50,000 units to Porsche’s annual tally. And, given the undoubted appeal of this “sportscar of the compact SUV segment”, that number could easily stretch to 75,000 or even more.
Speculation of what the seventh Porsche model line could be is exactly that, though the one car that could bolster sales (and profits) without damaging its brand image is a sub-Panamera sports sedan. Think a 5 Series/E-Class rival with the sporting DNA and enthusiast appeal for which Porsche is renown.
So how does the Audi Q5-based Macan fare in light of Porsche’s “sports car” claims? Pretty well, in fact.
If you approach the Macan as a Cayman on stilts, you might come away a little disappointed, simply because it lacks the intimacy of feedback that defines Porsche’s entry-level coupe. But if you think of where the Macan sits in relation to top-spec BMW X3s, Volvo XC60s and Audi Q5s, the Macan is a revelation.
Unlike Audi’s over-firm SQ5 sports model, the Macan blends a decent ride with terrific handling, though go for the air-suspension option and the Macan raises the game even further. We’re talking a car with up to 21-inch wheels that rides smoothly, corners aggressively and can still go a fair trek off road.
About the only real negative is weight; the Macan Turbo has to lug 1925kg around.
The Macan range kicks off at $85K for the S Diesel with a 190kW/580Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 shared with Audi, followed by a petrol-powered S for $87K with a Porsche-developed 250kW/460Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6.
The range-topper for now is the $123K Macan Turbo, with a stroked 3.6-litre version of the bi-turbo V6, pumping out 294kW/550Nm and capable of 4.6sec to 100km/h with launch control, though an even gruntier Turbo S is in the pipeline.
There’s also a Macan GTS in the works to sit between the S and Turbo.
The Macan should land in Porsche’s Australian showrooms in June.
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