Porsche is looking to attract a whole new group of customers while attempting to establish itself at the top of the increasingly competitive performance SUV ranks with the launch of an unprecedented fifth model line and second dedicated SUV, the all-new Macan.
Unveiled by Porsche chairman Mathias Muller at this week's Los Angeles motor show, the junior sibling to the highly-successful Cayenne has been conceived to appeal to both dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts as well as family car buyers, with a broad range of model variants that appear set to bolster the German car maker's annual sales beyond the 200,000 mark for the first time when deliveries of the Macan begin in early 2014.
The initial Macan line-up, due to reach New Zealand showrooms mid next year, consists of the trio of V6 powered models: the Macan Turbo, Macan S and Macan Diesel S - all featuring a seven speed dual clutch gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive as standard.
Although it is yet to make its plans official, Porsche is also developing more affordable variants of its new SUV, including four-cylinder Macan and Macan Diesel models - a move that will make it the first Porsche to be offered with four-cylinder power since the demise of the 968 in 1995.
The Porsche Macan is based around the same platform as the five-year-old Audi Q5. The two share a similar high strength steel floorpan, bulk heads and body structure together with various driveline, chassis and electrical components. But while the Q5 is assembled at Audi's main production facility in Ingolstadt, Germany, the Macan is built at Porsche's secondary plant in Leipzig, Germany - the same facility responsible for the Cayenne and Panamera.
Drawing clear inspiration from the second-generation Cayenne - itself due to receive a mid-life facelift in 2014 - the Macan boasts an aggressive appearance fully reflecting its positioning as a sporting rival for the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque. The overall design and its detailing brings a family look to Porsche's SUV line-up - something Porsche claims was driven by feedback gained in early styling clinics for the new car.
As hinted to in early sketches, the front end is dominated by large air ducts that vary in size depending on the engine that is chosen. Another prominent styling feature is its unusual clamshell bonnet that extends well into the flanks, boasts cut outs for the headlamps and is claimed to provide improve airflow to the engine bay in comparison to the more conventional bonnet used by the large and more expensive Cayenne.
The Macan, which joins Porsche's new model ranks 11 years after the introduction of the Cayenne, boasts a much more sporting profile than the upright Q5, with steeply raked bonnet, aggressively angled windscreen, sloping roofline and heavily angled rear window within a one-piece tailgate that opens at bumper level. The glasshouse boasts an eight window design similar to the Cayenne, with small quarter windows within the base of the A-pillars.
As on all new Porsche models, the large exterior rear view mirrors are mounted on the doors. A black feature panel within the rocker serves to break up the visual bulk within the flanks. To preserve the styling at the rear, Porsche has integrated the electronic opening mechanism within the foot of the rear wiper mechanism
Among the aerodynamic developments brought to the new Porsche SUV are so-called radiator shutters. Positioned behind the central front air duct, they close at high speeds when the cooling properties of the engine permit to reduce drag. A flat undertray extending from front to rear is also used to smooth airflow underneath the body. Differing front end designs see the Cd figures vary between each Macan model; the Macan S Diesel is put at 0.35, the Macan S at 0.36 and the Macan Turbo at 0.37.
At 4699mm in length, 1923mm in width and 1624mm in height, the Macan is 146mm shorter, 16mm narrower and 82mm lower than the second-generation Cayenne - itself due to receive a mid-life facelift in 2014.
It is also 70mm longer, 24mm wider and 30mm lower than the Q5.
An official kerb weight of 1865kg for the Macan S - the lightest of all the new models - makes it a significant 200kg lighter than the Cayenne S.
The Macan will be launched in Australia with the choice of three V6 engines: two in-house produced direct-injection petrol units and a single Audi-sourced common rail diesel. They come mated to a standard seven-speed dual clutch gearbox with steering wheel mounted shift paddles together with automatic stop/start, a coasting function that decouples the engine from the gearbox on a trailing throttle, brake energy recuperation and thermal management functions for added fuel saving. Porsche has also fitted the petrol units with an exhaust flap that is claimed to provide them with what it describes as "robust acoustic qualities".
The most powerful engine of all is a newly developed twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre V6. Based around Porsche's new twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, as recently unveiled in the Panamera S, with a 96mm bore and stroke measurements extended by 14mm to 83mm, it develops 294kW at 6000rpm and 550Nm of torque on a band of revs between 1350 and 4500rpm to provide the initial range topping Macan Turbo with an official 0-100km/h time of 4.8 sec (or 4.6sec when ordered with an optional Sport Chrono package) and a 266km/h top speed together with combined cycle consumption of 8.9L/100km and average CO2 emissions of 208g/km.
Below it is the mid-range Macan S. It runs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 with 250kW and 460Nm between 1450 and 5000rpm - some 30kW 60Nm more than the naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 in the entry level Cayenne. Porsche claims 0-100km/h in 5.4sec (or 5.2sec with Sport Chrono), a 254km/h top speed, 8.7L/100km and 204g/km.
Also available from the outset of sales is a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 common rail diesel in the Macan Diesel S. The Audi produced unit delivers 190kW and a sturdy 580Nm between 1750 and 2500rpm. This is sufficient, according to Porsche's own performance figures, for 0-100km/h in 6.3sec (6.1sec with Sport Chrono), a 230km/h top speed along with combined cycle consumption of 6.1L/100km and average CO2 emissions of just 159g/km.
Further engines options are planned, including a turbocharged 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol unit with 220kW in the future base Macan, although Porsche sources suggest it won't arrive in Australia until 2015. Also set for introduction is a 130kW turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder common rail oilburner in a pricing leading Macan Diesel.
In a weight saving move, the Macan eschews the mechanical Torsen torque sensing four-wheel drive system used by the Q5. In its place is a lighter electronically controlled multi-plate clutch arrangement engineered by Porsche. Standard across the line-up, it has been tuned to provide a rear-biased apportioning of drive. Sensors constantly monitor traction, with up to 100 per cent of drive able to be channeled to the front wheels when required. An off-road mode, which provides a more even apportioning of drive front to rear, is activated via a press of a button on the centre console at speeds up to 50mph.
Underpinning the Macan, whose name is derived from the Indonesian word for tiger, is a heavily reworked version of the Q5's chassis with a 2807mm wheelbase allied to a double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension with variable damping control and electro-mechanical steering system.
The original Audi set-up has been optimized with tracks that are up by 35mm in width at the front and 36mm at the rear, unique suspension components as well as revised geometry, elastokinematics and software to provide the new Porsche with what has been described to Drive as "the most agile handling in its class".
Nothing is official just yet, but in recent tests the Macan Turbo is claimed to have lapped the Nurburgring in the low eight minute bracket, placing it on par with genuine performance cars like the soon-to-be-superseded BMW M3 for raw pace.
Underlining its sporting pretensions, the Macan rides on a different sized wheels and tyres front-to-rear in a move aimed at sharpening steering response while ensuring the best possible traction; the Macan S Diesel and Macan S come with standard 18-inch wheels shod with 235/60 front and 255/55 rear tyres while the Macan Turbo receives 19-inch wheels with 235/55 front and 255/50 rear tyres. Being lower than the Q5, it also boasts a lower centre of gravity than the car upon which it is largely based.
An optional air suspension allows the ride height to be adjusted by up to 40mm at the press of a button, providing the Macan with 230mm of ground clearance for improved off-road performance. Among the standard traction enhancing driving aids is stability control, an automatic brake differential and anti slip management.
- Sydney Morning Herald