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First drive: Porsche Macan Turbo

Time:2016-06-03 08:54Turbochargers information Click:

turb porsche Macan Drive First

What’s this, then?

Don’t pretend you don’t know what it is. It’s one of the big debuts of 2014, Porsche’s first sally in the small SUV battleground, little brother to the Cayenne.

To a few, it’s potential sacrilege. To the monied, badge-conscious suburbanistas, it’s the car they’ve long prayed for: a practical, five-seat rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and the Evoque, but with that all-important Porsche crest on the nose. It’s the Macan (pronounced ‘Mack-ann’ if you’re British and ‘Mah-cahn’ if you’re German), a car Porsche bills as ‘the first sports car in the compact SUV segment’.

Which makes it a… sports car compact sports utility vehicle?

Indeed. It’s either the ultimate one-car garage, or the dodgiest attempt to blend two utterly conflicting ideas since, um, our convertible people carrier.

Hang on, hang on. Isn’t this just an Audi Q5 in Porsche drag?

It isn’t. The Macan does borrow its underpinnings from Audi’s middlemost SUV, but what’s most interesting about the Porsche isn’t how similar it is to the Q5, but how different. Porsche says two-thirds of the Macan’s components are entirely original: in effect, only the aluminium base is shared with Audi.

Just look at the interior: pure Porsche. Tall, button-laden console, triple-binnacle instrument cluster, steering wheel borrowed from the 918 Spyder. It’s all immaculately finished and, as ever with Porsche, the info-nav gubbinry is beyond reproach.

Entirely new, too, are the suspension, transmission, bodywork… and engines.

Ah yes. Engines. Any sign of that screaming V8 from the 918 Spyder?

Sadly not, but the powerplants are plenty fruity nonetheless. You’ve the choice of two petrols and a diesel, starting with the 335bhp Macan S and its 3.0-litre V6. It’ll do the 0-62mph sprint in 5.2 seconds (with optional Sport Chrono package) and 158mph flat-out, with official economy around 32mpg.

For the same £43,300 asking price, you can have the Macan S Diesel instead, which, with its 254bhp/427lb ft 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel, will get to 62mph around a second slower than the petrol S, but return 45mpg and 160g/km of CO2.

And then there’s the range-topping Turbo S, billed as ‘the most powerful vehicle in the compact SUV segment’. A rather punchy £59,300 gets you a 394bhp, 3.6-litre bi-turbo petrol V6, good for a 4.6-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 165mph. This, of course, is the one TopGear tested.

Is it quick, then?

Crikeymosesyes. Not quite so retina-detaching as the 911 Turbo with which it shares a badge, but by SUV standards the Macan is a bullet train of a thing. The ‘charged V6 - a new Porsche engine rather than one borrowed from within the VW group - is a brute, combining a chest-tightening low-end wallop from the turbos with a cheery charge past 6000rpm. It’ll fling you deep into licence-losing territory before you can say, “Goodness, I am being flung deep into licence-losing territory.”

On a derestricted autobahn, we saw an easy 160mph, and the Macan had plenty more to give. And here’s the smart thing: unlike many smart Germans, the Macan can deal with gnarly roads, too. Especially riding on the £1700 optional air suspension, which is a thing of subtle magic, keeping the Porsche flat through even the most face-bending of corners without turning its ride to peanut brittle.

This is no flyweight Cayman R-alike, mind. The Macan Turbo weighs just over 1900kg, and you can feel all that weight when you’re braking for a fast downhill bend. Good thing the brakes are mighty.

Can I have it with a proper gearstick?

No, but that’s no loss here. The Macan’s standard seven-speed ‘PDK’ double-clutch transmission is the very best in the business, changing gear instantly and with satisfying mechanical crispness, the paddles behind the steering wheel (left for down, right for up, as it should be) engaging with a pleasingly hefty deadweight. The transmission is a ideal match for the Macan’s four-wheel drive system, too, with seamless power to match the apparently seamless grip.

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