The Porsche Macan SUV will be sold with four cylinder engines “in the foreseeable” future, according to company engineers. That will make the compact SUV the first Porsche model with a four-pot engine since the 968 model ended production in 1995.

The four-cylinder petrol and diesel options are expected to be offered from 2015. The entry-level petrol side is tipped to be a turbocharged 2.0-litre unit with 280bhp. Also set for introduction is a 2.0-litre turbodiesel in a price-leading Macan Diesel. Both models will compete with higher-spec versions of the somewhat smaller Range Rover Evoque.

Porsche says the overwhelming aim of the project was to provide the Macan with “sports car” responses, claiming ‘best in class brake performance and steering precision’ as well as “very responsive” acceleration and gear-shifting abilities in addition to a more car-like driving position. 

The launch Macan models include the £43,300 Macan S (which gets a 3.0-litre V6 bi-turbo 335bhp engine ) and the £43,300 Macan Diesel S which gets a 254bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine good for 46.3mpg and 0-62mph in 6.3sec.The £59,300 Macan Turbo range-topping model has a 394bhp 3.6-litre V6 twin turbo and a 0-62mph time of 4.8sec.

The new Macan is based on the same basic steel structure as the Audi Q5 but, according to Porsche’s engineers, some “two thirds” of components have been replaced or modified. While the floor and bulkhead are the same as the Audi, the body’s upper structure and door structures are new. Porsche has also lowered the seating position and modified the position of the steering wheel, to make the driving position “more Porsche-like”.

While, like the Q5, the engine sits ahead of the front axle, Porsche's own 7-speed PDK transmission and ‘hang-on’ four wheel drive system ensure that – in steady state conditions – some 80 per cent of the engine’s torque is directed to the rear wheels. In extreme conditions, up to 100 per cent of torque can be directed to the front wheels for short periods.

The front suspension steering that has been redesigned to be “10 per cent quicker” and both axles get retuned bushes, dampers, springs and anti-roll bars. Porsche has fitted its own six-pot, aluminium, monobloc calipers to the front axle.

The Macan also gets the option of air suspension, which can be raised 40mm in off-road mode and lowered 10mm for high-speed driving. The rear of the car can be lowered 40mm to help with loading. Both the transmission and 4x4 system are claimed to react in “less than 100 milliseconds”.

Porsche is also offering the option of torque vectoring and a rear differential lock. The Macan has a 53/47 front/rear weight distribution and a 623mm high centre of gravity on the Turbo model and a 634mm on the diesel. Stop-start and a coasting function for the transmission are also standard.

The Macan is made at Porsche’s Leipzig plant, alongside the Cayenne and Panamera. Porsche has installed a 50,000 per year capacity at Leipzig, but it is expected to expand when the four-cylinder models arrive.