If you’ve missed the hype so far, the Porsche Macan is the German maker’s first foray into the compact SUV sector.
It goes on sale in April next year, with 255bhp diesel and 335bhp turbo petrol models – both badged Macan S and costing £43,300 – as the entry-level options.
A Turbo model, complete with a 394bhp, 3.6-litre turbo petrol engine, tops the range with a price tag of £59,300. All versions come with active four-wheel drive and a seven-speed, dual-clutch PDK gearbox as standard.
Cheaper, four-cylinder engines will join the range after launch, though the specifics of these models are yet to be announced.
What’s the 2014 Porsche Macan like on the road?
From the passenger seat, the Macan feels as if it delivers as much verve and composure as the bigger Porsche Cayenne, which sets the dynamic benchmark in the large SUV class.
The Macan uses the same four-wheel drive system as the Cayenne, meaning that most of the power is sent to the rear in normal driving. In more taxing conditions, power is continually shuffled between the front and rear wheels, and can even be sent entirely to one axle if necessary.
It’s a fast acting set-up that, in our time being driven on track in the Turbo, allowed the Macan to carry huge speeds through tight corners in a stable manner. The test car came with the optional £1012 PTV+ (Porsche Torque Vectoring) system, which includes an electronic differential that allows power to be shuffled between individual wheels. This works in unison with a system (also part of PTV+) that will brake an inside wheel in order to further enhance the Macan’s ability to turn into or accelerate out of corners without losing traction.
As a result, our vigorously driven Turbo appeared to be a forgiving thing at the limit. With too much speed carried into a corner, it would lose traction at the front end. However, lift off the throttle mid-corner and the rear tyres lose traction momentarily, bringing everything neatly back into line.
From the passenger seat, at least, the Macan feels like a proper sports car, yet it also hinted at being a comfortable and refined thing, too.
The Macan S Diesel was barely any less impressive. This will be the biggest seller in the UK, and its refinement is particularly good; the 3.0 V6 diesel emits a hushed purr under steady throttle input, and remains smooth even when revved hard.
This diesel model rode on steel springs complete with £785 adaptive dampers. In this guise, the Macan had tightly controlled body movement and seemed to offer handling that was nearly as lively, precise and enjoyable as the Turbo.
The same diesel test car coped well over the severe surfaces of an off-road course, where it breezed over much harsher terrain than any Macan owner is likely to attempt, thanks to the standard ‘Off Road’ button, which adjusts the gearbox and electronic aids for optimum mud-wallowing ability. The suspension coped well here, too, rounding off big ruts and rocky surfaces well, which hints at good ride comfort in the UK.
One clear asset of the Macan – regardless of engine variant – is the gearbox. Even in the extreme driving situations we experienced the Macan in, it was clear that the double-clutch PDK automatic served up near-imperceptible shifts at just the right moment. It’s a gearbox that we’ve praised in every car it has featured in, and the Macan is highly likely to be all the more impressive for it.
What’s the 2014 Porsche Macan like inside?
It certainly lives up to expectations. Both driver and front occupant have comfortable and supportive seating, with a sense of a defined space for each created by the high centre console running down the centre of the cabin, on which the gear lever and an array of switchgear is positioned.
It doesn’t feel as roomy as in some competitors, but the materials and architecture make it feel more sporty, while the fit and finish is as exacting and solid-feeling as in any other Porsche model.
Rear passengers will have a little less legroom in the back than in a BMW X3, and there’s also a bit less space in the 500-litre boot (the X3 offers 550 litres), although the rear seats fold flat easily, and the tailgate is electrically powered on all models.
Certainly, there’s plenty of room for four adults and a useful amount of luggage, or a couple of sets of golf clubs in the boot.
Should I buy one?
Not until we’ve been able to properly test the new Macan on British roads. It still has much to prove, despite our passenger ride suggesting that it will live up to high expectations for its dynamics.
It's pricey, with the entry-level model costing £2420 more than a BMW X3 xDrive30d SE, which is faster and better equipped, not to mention very good to drive.
Even the Audi SQ5, which shares many components with the new Macan, costs slightly less despite a significant power and spec advantage.
Ultimately, the Porsche Macan looks like it'll be great to drive, but it needs to be more than just fun to beat the competition at this price.
Porsche Macan S Diesel
Engine size 3.0-litre V6 diesel
Price from £43,300
Torque 428lb ft
0-62mph 6.3 seconds
Top speed 143mph
Fuel economy 44.8mpg
Porsche Macan S
Engine size 3.0-litre V6 petrol
Price from £43,300
Torque 339lb ft
0-62mph 5.4 seconds
Top speed 158mph
Fuel economy 31.4mpg
Porsche Macan Turbo
Engine size 3.6-litre V6 petrol
Price from £59,300
Torque 406lb ft
0-62mph 4.8 seconds
Top speed 165mph
Fuel economy 30.7mpg