A size that matters
From a distance and without any other cars to reference for size, it is very easy to mistake the Macan prototypes with their Cayenne support vehicles.
The two share a common design language that remains clear, despite the light disguise worn by the prototypes that Porsche's test and engineering team has brought to North America. Love it or loathe it, you can’t deny that it is eye-catching.
One feature that immediately raises interest is the bonnet, a clamshell affair that features cut-outs for the headlamps and sides that wrap well down into the flanks below the top of the front wheel arches, similar to the Mini hatchback.It has been adopted to improve airflow within the engine bay, according to Woehler.
Despite looking like a scaled-down version of the Cayenne, the Macan uses quite a different base. The Cayenne shares its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Touareg, the Macan with the Audi Q5. From launch in the UK next May, Porsche intends to offer three engines and a choice of either a standard six-speed manual or optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which has been chosen over the Cayenne’s eight-speed automatic on the grounds that it provides the new SUV with a more sporting feel, says Woehler.
Four-wheel drive – a Torsen torque-sensing system that apportions power with a distinct rearward bias – is standard across the range, as are features such as automatic stop-start and a coasting function that idles the engine on a trailing throttle for added fuel savings.
Although Porsche is quick to play down the engineering links between the Macan and Q5, you don’t have to delve very far to discover that they share the same 2807mm wheelbase. Overall, the Porsche is 70mm longer, 44mm wider and 29mm lower than the Audi, which is now in its fifth
year of production.
The Macan’s chassis is also a development of that found in the Q5, with a combination of multi-links front and rear. In keeping with its sporting brief, it receives conventional steel coil springs along with adjustable dampers and regular anti-roll bars, although the finer details are being kept under wraps until its unveiling in late November.
Wheel sizes start at
17 inches and go all the way up to an optional 21-inch design. The steering, an electro-mechanical arrangement, is described as a Porsche development with unique components and mapping.
I jump into the heavily contoured passenger seat of the Turbo model that is set to lead the Macan line-up. It is powered by a twin-turbocharged version of Porsche’s 3.6-litre V6 direct-injection petrol engine that, until now, has been offered in naturally aspirated guise only.
The adoption of forced induction, a complex cooling system fed by those substantial front air ducts and other associated internal modifications have raised output by a significant 100bhp, bumping it to 395bhp – the same figure touted by the naturally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 in the Cayenne S, no less. There is an even bigger increase in torque, which climbs by 110lb ft to a sturdy 406lb ft. By comparison, the most powerful Q5, the SQ5 sold in North America, uses a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with 354bhp and 347lb ft.
A glance around the interior reveals similarities in materials, switches and controls to that of the second-generation Cayenne, suggesting that quality will be well up to levels of other recent Porsche models. The driving position is quite sporting – more so than in the Cayenne – with a neatly proportioned, multi-function steering wheel that is not quite vertical and a high-set centre console. The cabin is very spacious. There’s lots of legroom and headroom for four adults, and five at a pinch.