First Drive Review: 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo

 

Finally “Snap” discovers a Porsche Cayenne he can fantasize about owning. Ripping around the Porsche paved track and off-road course in the former East Germany, he finds the meaning of Macan.

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Leipzig, Germany, is what Detroit, Michigan, could have turned into had everything been done correctly at the state and civic levels between 1955 and 1980. There is nothing here – and I intend by Nature’s divine plan – apart from what Man hath wrought. The land is even flatter than a board, the winters are cold and dreary, and the man-made infrastructure left behind by those extravagant and colorful Communist architects is exactly as unworthy of getting looked at as you might imagine.

But Germany reunited and the European Union was made official, and money and incentives have poured in to eastern Germany pretty much unabated since the early 1990s. The place is still dramatic in its lack of drama, but the working middle class here is extraordinary to watch at full tilt. Several car manufacturers find new factories here and none quite so ambitious and committed as the site built by Porsche AG. This is the birthplace of Porsche Cayennes and Panameras – and now Macans. So, roughly 85 percent of all Porsche production and profits is generated from this one location.

I disagree with Porsche – as I have been known to do from time to time. They call their Macan small SUVover their fifth model in the lineup. It’s actually their sixth because they should not be lumping the Boxster and Cayman together as one product on the balance sheets. But that’s my beef…so let’s move on.

My fellow reviewers have latched on to the look-it-up knowledge that the name “Macan” is from the malay/Indonesian word for tiger or badass cat. The fools! I know perfectly well that Porsche drew the name from the Scotch Gaelic dictionary, where “macan” is a word used for a young lad, or laddie. The kind of scrappy kid who craps his pants when Scrooge promises to give him half a crown if he fetch the turkey from the butcher’s window, the turkey that’s as big as the laddie now crapping his pants on Christmas morning. I am in eastern Germany to test the Porsche Laddie.

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Aaaaaanyways, some are calling the Macan “Type 946”, some “95B”, but I couldn’t get anyone present from the ranks of team engineers or communications people to verify all this or not. And I LOVE codes and stuff since they make it sound like I know what I’m talking about. This confusion is a first in my many years dealing with the Stuttgart company; there is always a model Type number assigned and suddenly no one knows what it is for this most important model ever for Porsche AG.

Don’t spit at me for saying that either. Settle down, whoa, boy. The 911 made the company’s legend, the original Boxster got hairdressers and admin assistants into Porsches, the Cayenne turned the company into a high-volume premium juggernaut and allowed nasty Russian dudes to drive over roads paved with serfs, the Panamera extended that Cayenne largesse while maybe driving over fewer of the downtrodden, and….the Cayman (my favorite) still just sort of sits there impressing no one on the business-case side. It is now the Dawn of Macan, a model which will lead the Porsche charge on to 250,000 annual sales from the current 160,000-plus. Who’d have thought we’d be here just ten years ago?

In Leipzig, I could have my way with the 394-horsepower Macan Turbo, a 335-hp Macan S, and a 254-hp Macan S Diesel (which punks the first two a bit by having 428 pound-feet of torque and significantly better fuel efficiency). Being an American in a foreign land, however, I ran for security to the Turbo. I wanted to try the 4.5-second ability to bolt to 60 mph from a stop. No other smaller SUVover even comes close to this, so a shoved others out of my path and grabbed it.

Grabbed it even though it was white, yes.

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This is the first time for this 3.6-liter bi-turbo gas engine of the M46 family. Whereas the basic engine naturally aspirated has been used for a bit in both the base Cayenne and Panamera with 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, there are now two small yet potent turbochargers glued to the sucker. Driving the Macan Turbo on the FIA-certified test track at Leipzig was akin to taking out a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S with a fat celebrity chef in the passenger seat next to me. I was hammering the beast and it handled it all. The Turbo level finally gets you a standard sport locking rear differential and Porsche torque vectoring Plus. I mean, it bleeding well had better throw you a bone or two for the base price of $73,295.

Packaging was a big deal here at the Turbo spot because the engine bay of the Macan is not copious really. The chief objective was to keep the Macan looking as much like a 911-like small SUVover as possible. The engine itself is not as compact as it could have been had it been developed specifically for the Macan, but it was not so the oil pan is pretty deep and the whole power unit sits square atop the front differential instead of maybe engineering the front axle to pass through the engine block. So, the challenge was on.

First, the turbochargers are specially designed with a small housing and new turbine that nonetheless maintains desired boost pressures.  When off-throttle, too, the throttle valves stay just a little open so as to keep the turbines still spinning and thus reduce turbo-lag. The other necessity of this packaging was to develop an all-new intake air pathway. Frontal air gushes in the grill and is split left and right through channels. After this, the air passes directly through new channels in the aluminum hood. The air shoots down and out of the hood channels and into the engine’s two intake valve rows. It’s pretty ingenious work.

I did a lot of laps in my white Turbo and was not disappointed. The optional sport seats were incredibly supportive and cabin comfort, ergonomics, and quality are all superior. My tester did not have the optional air suspension that allows 1.6 inches height gain for offroading, and also 1.6 inches lowering at the rear axle only if you desire easier loading of cargo. Space here ranges from 17.7 cubic feet on up to 53.0 cubic feet, so not inconsiderable. Weight is 4,244 pounds and the yaw point of the Macan is 3.2 inches lower here than on the Cayenne.

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The Macan starts deliveries in North America during May 2014. Not only the Turbo and S come to us, but the S Diesel is also coming by the start of 2015. Being offroad with the air suspension and Offroad Package on a Macan S was supreme stuff as well, but I would wait to get gnarly until I could get the S Diesel.

Could the Detroit Three build factories all over Detroit again and use a requirement that families had to live in the city for the parents to land the sweetest jobs as incentive for Detroit’s actual rebirth? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to set occasional tyrant-like benevolent rules like that? Something like Macans in Leipzig is the only scenario that could get Detroit the turnaround we forever whine about.

2015 Porsche Macan KEY SPECS

Price: $73,295 (est.)

Engine: 3.6-liter biturbo V6; 394 bhp

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic

0-60mph: 4.5 seconds

Top speed: 165mph (limited)

Economy: 25mpg (avg.)

On sale: May 2014

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  • JBsC6

    Not sure I dig the styling yet I assume the 50 grand model should sell very well for all those Porsche and CUV lovers.

    Will this be the basis of the new 4 door Porsche sedan/coupe?

    Seems as though that would give the BMW 3/4 series a heart attack