September 09, 2014 @ 05:22 PM

Porsche Macan – first look at the baby Cayenne

The last truly-new car from Stuttgart was the Panamera. Five years later, a new Porsche is born



 
Words: Chris Ng
Photographs: Aaron Lee

The last truly-new car from Stuttgart was the Panamera. Five years later, a new Porsche is born.
 
About three years ago, during the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, a small group of automotive journalist from the Asia Pacific region – me, included – was interviewing a panel of bigwigs from Porsche. Matthias Muller, President and CEO of Porsche AG, was also present. The makeshift room wasn’t big but it accommodated the group with relative comfort. The interview itself was about the Porsche’s new 911 that launched earlier in the day.
 
However, as the interviews progressed, the topic got sidetracked and questions about Porsche’s future plans were laid out on the table. A member from the panel revealed that Porsche will unveil a new, smaller SUV into their lineup to complement the Cayenne in 2013. The new car’s working title was Cajun, a portmanteau of Cayenne Junior. 
 
After about three years of getting first wind about the new SUV, I finally get to see it in the metal. The SUV is called Macan and it is pronounced just as how you would when you informally invite your colleagues out to lunch – ma-kan. Or, mah-khan, if you want to add a sophisticated twist to the word. It needs to be pointed out that the name is derived from the Indonesian word for tiger and not Malaysians’ favourite pastime.
 
The formula for the Macan is a simple one – the SUV needed to be the sportiest in its segment. Or to put it in another way, the Macan is a sports car SUV. To that end, the creative minds at Porsche has decided to derive inspiration from the company’s rich sports cars and racing cars heritage. So the Macan bears the elements from the 911 and the 918. And the results, I think, are rather good.
 
The Macan recreates the same beautiful sloping fender of the 911. It also places the fender higher than the bonnet, just as how you would find on the 911. The bonnet design is unlike what you would find in the latest generation of Porsche; this one makes its debut on the Macan.
 
Porsche’s racing cars inspired the new hood. It stretches from wheel arch to wheel arch, encompassing the front fenders and enclosing the main headlights. It is good to note that the headlights are aligned vertical, similar to what you can find on a Porsche 911 and its shape follows that of the 918. The new enclosure’s seamless surface lends to the snout’s clean appearance. And somehow, standing face to face, that one huge piece of metal gives the Macan a broad and intimidating appearance – the same you’ll encounter when staring down a great white shark. 
 
There are more of the 918 on the sides. Attention is drawn to the sideblades just below the front and rear doors. You’ll find a similar accent on the door of the hybrid super sports car. The sideblade, seen here in its optional carbon fibre version, makes the doors look pinched to give the sides a streamlined appearance. The continuation of the shoulder lines and the merging with that of the sloping roof only serves to accentuate the rear sculpted wings; a characteristic found in all Porsche sports cars.
 
Yet, it is from the rear that the Macan appears to be truly distinct. Which is funny at the same time because the rear is also the plainest compared to the rest of the body. Porsche rationalizes that the uncluttered rear makes the Macan look broader, which would translate to the SUV having more presence on the road. With that said, I do suspect that the rear is devoid of design just so the new three-dimensional taillights, a reimagined product from the 918, can stand out – not that it needs any help. We’re looking forward to see the Macan on the road at night. What a sight it would be.
 
Let’s not forget that this has to be the sportiest SUV in its class. Which means it is time to look at the engines; all partnered with the seven-speed PDK. There are four mills to choose from while other countries only get three. More on that later.
 
At the top of the power pyramid sits the Macan Turbo; said to be the most powerful in class. It is a 3.6-litre V6 biturbo tuned to produce 400bhp and it should launch the car to 100kph in 4.8 seconds. The Macan S makes do with a 3.0-litre V6 biturbo that delivers 340bhp and can complete the century sprint in 5.4 seconds. Of course the 6.1l/100km Macan S Diesel will be available as well. The alternative fueled SUV will run with a 258bhp 3.0-litre biturbo that’ll get to 100kph in 6.3 seconds. All of these numbers are exciting indeed. 
 
But it is the smaller, less powerful engine that should be the headliner. This engine is not available in all countries, only the UK and select Asian nations will find the 2.0-litre inside the Macan. Which means we’re one of the first to have an engine of this type in a Porsche. The mill, an in-line four, petrol engine, is turbocharged to deliver 237bhp. Mated to the same seven-speed PDK, the base Macan should touch 100kph in 6.9 seconds and run at a top speed of 223kph. The highly efficient nature of the engine also lets it return a consumption of 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres.
 
The only thing remaining now is the price, only the estimates are released. Even so, the proposed numbers are attractive. The most expensive of the lot is the eye-watering RM785,000 for the Macan Turbo. The price works its way down to RM560,000 for the Macan S, RM550,000 for the Macan S Diesel and the Macan dips below the half-million barrier at RM450,000. Remember that the price is only an estimate although Porsche has told me that they’re doing all they can to make those prices official. The Macan will be launched sometime in the fourth quarter this year. 
 
When that time comes, I suspect that Porsche will have a long waiting list on their hands, which wouldn’t shorten quickly – a problem that all car manufacturers would love to have. And I suspect that the list will be filled with orders of the base 2.0-litre Macan because it has all the power, prestige and badge-snobbery – everything! – for less than half-a-million ringgit. If Porsche can make that price stick, we will be seeing plenty of Macans on the road. That is not a bad thing at all.

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