LIKE reality telly celebrities with the intellect of sheep, Sport Utility Vehicles (or SUVs) are with us for the foreseeable future, so we may as well get used to them. Even ones built by Porsche.
Over the last decade, the German sports car firm’s king-size Cayenne SUV has sold its titten off, mainly to Americans who don’t really think it’s that big at all. But what can’t be disputed is the size of the profits generated by the bloody thing, or why Porsche has decided to create a slightly smaller alternative, which it calls Macan (pronounced ‘Ma-khan’).
Thanks to Porsche’s close ties with mother Volkswagen (and first cousin Audi), the smaller, sportier, stockier Macan shares much with Audi’s similarly girthy Q5 SUV. But Porsche claims the Macan is 70 percent unique, which includes a pair of muscular twin-turbo V6 petrol engines – a 250kW 3.0-litre and a 294kW 3.6-litre – but not Macan’s all-wheel-drive system, or its transmission (from an Audi S5) or its 190kW 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6, which is also straight from the Audi parts bin.
What matters, though, is how well the Macan drives, not who should be taking a paternity test. Beneath its broad, Porsche-like sheetmetal sits a chassis that is incredibly talented at going very quickly around corners with a level of balance you’d never expect of an SUV. Porsche wanted the Macan to drive like “the Porsche of SUVs”, and it does.
What it doesn’t do is drive like a Cayman on stilts, but then anyone who expected that should just buy a bloody Cayman and quit whingeing. The Macan’s steering isn’t as tingly or as communicative as Porsche’s tent-pitching Cayman or 911 coupes, either, but then compared to every other SUV of its ilk, the Macan is a dynamic superstar, especially the range-topping Turbo, which has enough grunt to hold tail-out powerslides or glorious, smoking doughnuts – all on private property, of course, with the stability control (ESC) switched off.
The $122,900 Turbo is significantly gruntier than the lesser-powered S ($87,200), even though the on-paper difference isn’t huge, and it sounds more like what you’d expect from a twin-turbo bent-six (that is, “tough”). But surely “fucking tough” isn’t too much to ask from an SUV that includes 21-inch wheels in its official options catalogue. Maybe the forthcoming Macan GTS and Macan Turbo S will deliver on that wish, though we won’t find out until 2015.