• If you've got the dirhams to spare, driving the unique Porsche Macan - the brand's first foray into the small SUV world - will give you a boost

    From an American’s point of view, the Germans have made some amazing cars through the years – let’s be honest, they do it well. I’ve had the privilege of driving a few of the finest automobiles coming from central Europe, and if you had the same opportunity I think you’d agree.

    Porsche is, in my opinion, the standout sports car manufacturer in Germany as most of the others will be hidden under a veil of ‘sedan’ as we consumers see them. However, in a world where everybody seems to be venturing into the crossover SUV market, I suppose it was only a bit of time until the Macan showed up on the compact crossover platform. But will it maintain that level of performance that we have all come to expect coming out of Stuttgart?

    MODERATING INTENSITY

    From the outside, the Macan is a Porsche – you can see that as soon as you walk up to it. It looks like the beefy Cayenne, but it’s not.

    Yet, it is similar in bodyline as the 911, but it’s not that either. I didn’t really care that this was an SUV, after all, Porsche claims that it’s still a sports car.

    But does the Macan live up to the Porsche heritage? The characteristic headlights are recessed into the hood that stretches across to the wheel arches. The large air intakes create a broad and demanding front end that cannot be denied as a legendary sports car descendent. And from the back, it starts off slender and widens out over the rear wheels in pure Porsche fashion.

    Once you ease yourself into the driver’s seat the brand’s heritage is all around you and you almost forget you are sitting in an SUV. The array of buttons on the centre console give you a ‘cockpit’ feel which only excites one further for the ride. Even the steering wheel has been borrowed from the 918 Spyder. So yes, from the outside appearance this is a Porsche. Enough said.

    REMARKABLE POWER AS STANDARD

    The base model 2.0 litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine delivers 252 horsepower and will get you from 0-60 before you have had enough of listening to that great engine rumble when you hit the gas. It was clear that the true joy of the Macan comes when you get it on the open road.

    It is reasonably quick and agile considering it is a standard all-wheel drive, but most of the torque is sent to the rear axle in normal driving conditions. If needed you can change it up for the road conditions at any given time through the centre console. When need be, it becomes completely front wheel drive.

    Highway driving was a dream, as expected – but this was still an SUV, so what about getting it out of the natural element of pavement onto something a little less forgiving like the barren salt flats in the area? Wound up and ready to go I cut her loose as my foot hit the floor.

    Once selected for ‘off road’ the Macan switches all relevant systems to optimise traction and mobility, the isolated gatch tracks and salt flats were no issue and it handled well with minimal body roll in the turns. There was a slight wind and road noise when we were on the move, but overall I could never complain about getting back to nature or any long distance drive or weekend cruising. In all of the exceptional driving circumstances we tried, this Porsche doesn’t seem out of place.

    SCULPTED INTERIOR

    From the driver’s side, three large round dials outline the dash with the tachometer being in the middle instead of off to one side; exactly where it should be in a sports car.

    The sports car genes are apparent on every stitch of the interior but that doesn’t mean that Porsche has compromised comfort. The seats, although offering racing-style support, are completely adjustable although it would have been nice to have them climatized as well.

    Tech is abounding, too. The Apple CarPlay connects all of the apps and information from your phone so it’s readily available at the touch of a button. Siri voice control is also available. The voice recognition interface allows convenient use of your apps while you’re on the move while keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.

    Storage is also at a maximum. The engine is front mounted (sorry Porsche purists) to allow for cargo space of more than 17.5 cubic feet. This increases with the rear bench seat offering a split-folding ratio of 40:20:40. When completely folded the available capacity increases to 53 cubic feet.

    ENJOY YOUR OWN PACE CAR

    After four days of driving, my feeling is that the base model Macan fell short – especially in the acceleration and power aspects to be classified as a ‘true sports car’. Possibly if you pick up the GTS or Turbo models this sensation would change.

    It was enjoyable to drive and there was a bit of an added swagger from anybody who climbed in and out of it thanks to the insignia on the hood, but this is an entry model Porsche for the family. It still exhilarates like a Porsche should – in some ways.