Called the Macan, this little brother to Porsche’s proper 4x4, the Cayenne, represents the German maker’s first step into the compact SUV sector. Geoff Ashcroft reports.
While this smaller Porsche 4x4 is based somewhat loosely on the Audi Q5, about 85 per cent of the Macan has been changed and fettled to give it the Porsche treatment. And that is what buyers will be paying for - this is not just a pimped-up Volkswagen Audi Group product.
Our S Diesel test version is the only oil burner in the Macan line-up. It is mated to Porsche’s own dual-clutch, seven-speed transmission and spins all four wheels through an active all wheel drive system.
Interior is supremely built. Trademark dials add to the sporty credentials.
An off-road button allows you to select a traction-biased program to make the most of progress on soft surfaces. And if the optional air suspension system is fitted, it takes care of ride height too, suiting a change in terrain. Drive can be shuffled automatically between the front and rear axles, by up to 100 per cent, if necessary.
However, this 4x4 is focused much more towards on-road refinement than off-road bumbling. The interior is one of the finest about and shows no signs of corner-cutting. High-quality materials feel robustly fastened, and the layout of the driver’s controls, instruments and seating clearly has sportiness in mind.
It even gets the firm’s trademark triple-barrel dials layout, which places a large rev counter in the middle of the binnacle, and is flanked by a smaller speedometer to the left, and a multi-function display with gauges, to the right.
A high centre console reinforces the sporty feel by dividing the space between driver and front-seat passenger.
There is practicality, and you can fit a towbar to make the most of its 2,400kg braked towing capacity.
There is room enough to get comfy, but those sitting behind will moan about headroom if the panoramic sunroof is fitted.
Performance, as you might expect, is snappy. And selecting ‘sport’ will sharpen steering, gear change and accelerator response. It keeps the V6 diesel spinning briskly, rather than using its low-down torque.
Our test car was fitted with optional air suspension, with self-leveling height control. It rode brilliantly, and is perhaps the best handling 4x4 out there.
If you enjoy driving and you really do need some four-wheel drive capability, this one is very easy to recommend, providing you can get past the lofty price tag once you start adding a few extras. It is in some good company too and has plenty of competition from the likes of the Audi SQ5, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque and BMW X3.