When Porsche launched their first SUV back in 2004, brand loyalists howled. The idea that a carmaker rooted in building finely crafted, uncompromising sports cars would dilute the brand DNA with something so suburban and mainstream was simply too much for Porsche purists to bear.
Fast forward a decade: The midsized Cayenne SUV is now Porsche's top-selling model and more than a few of those loyalists have found room for one alongside the 911 in their garage. More importantly, it opened the Porsche brand to a new breed of customer who never previously would have considered Stuttgart steel.
With the Macan compact crossover, Porsche has broadened their SUV catalog. Targeted at competitors like the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, the Macan leans more toward sport than utility in the SUV equation. With handling, acceleration, and braking performance that put most sports sedans to shame, the Macan is easily the most thrilling SUV we've tested.
The 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 in our Macan S delivers effortless power, mated to an automated manual transmission that fires off quick, decisive shifts punctuated by a race-ready exhaust bark. The BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, and Lexus NX don't even come close to that thrust.
For all its commitment to performance, the Macan still manages to deliver a measure of utility. Standard all-wheel drive and all-season tires make it a viable four-season vehicle, and the split-folding rear seats add cargo versatility. There's room for five friendly passengers in the quiet, luxurious, and impeccably finished interior, with comfortable and well-shaped seats up front.
So, what's not to like? The Macan doles out rear seat room with the frugality of the Bundesbank. The same goes for the cargo area. Visibility is limited by a small rear window. As you would expect for a sports-car-meets-SUV, fuel economy is a thirsty 19 mpg overall.
The Macan doesn't come cheap. Then again, what did you expect? It's a Porsche. Although the Macan has a base price a few pfennigs shy of 50 large, it is pretty much impossible to find one so equipped on dealer lots.
Ours rang in at $63,290 -- considerably more than any of its competitors. Adding a few options can drive up the price almost as quickly as the Macan accelerates. Even something as basic as a rear camera, standard on many mainstream cars, is a pricey option on the Macan.
Still, if you categorize the Macan as a high-performance, all-wheel-drive hatchback, rather than a weekend workhorse for lumber runs, it is a very appealing, albeit pricey, package. And compared to some other Porsche models, it may even be something of a relative bargain.