Muscular Macan can fit a family

Porsche's Macan crossover, shown, has more power and a higher sticker than the BMW X3.
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LEIPZIG, Germany -- Porsche executives pitch the Macan, on its way to U.S. dealerships, as a compact crossover. But to most eyes it looks more like a muscular hatchback.

What is not in dispute is that the Macan sticks to Porsche's performance ethos. Triple-digit speeds are no problem for the Macan.

The Macan's mission is to open up Porsche to upscale buyers with young families who have outgrown their 911s, Caymans and Boxsters.

The basics: The Macan shares a body structure with the Audi Q5.

The Macan S, starting at $50,985, is powered by a 340-hp 3.0-liter V-6 with a turbocharger. The $72,300 Macan Turbo has a 400-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 with two turbos. Maxed out, the Macan Turbo's price can approach $100,000. Prices include freight.

Both come with a dual clutch seven-speed transmission with paddle shifters. Porsche says the Macan S goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, while the Macan Turbo does it in 4.6. Next summer Porsche will offer a V-6 diesel with a 3.0-liter twin turbo engine rated at 258 hp. A hybrid is in the works. China will get an optional four-cylinder model.

Notable features: The Macan -- the word is Indonesian for tiger -- may be designed for performance, but it can also deliver respectable fuel economy. All models come with a stop-start system, which shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop. The seven-speed dual clutch automatic helps keep the engine in an efficient rpm range.

The standard all-wheel-drive system automatically adjusts power sent to the wheels based on the amount of traction detected at each wheel. The rear wheels drive the vehicle most of the time.

Options include an air suspension system that lowers the vehicle height; a lighting system that continually adjusts the headlight level; torque vectoring to improve high-speed handling; and the Sport Chrono package, which changes the engine tuning to improve performance and changes the sound of the exhaust.

The numbers: Porsche Macan, BMW X3
 2014 Porsche Macan S2014 BMW X3
Wheelbase110.5 in.110.5 in.
Length184.2 in.183.0 in.
Width82.6 in.82.6 in.
Height63.9 in.66.4 in.
Curb weight4,112 lbs.4,068 lbs.
Base engine3.0-liter V-6 turbo2.0-liter I-4 turbo
Horsepower340 hp @ 5,500 rpm240 hp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque, lbs.-ft.339 @ 5,000 rpm260 @ 4,800 rpm
EPA mpgN/A21 city/28 hwy.
Base price*$50,985$40,725
*Includes shipping

What Porsche says: "Cayenne proved we can transfer the driving aspects of the sports car to other segments," said Hans-Jurgen Wohler, the Porsche vice president in charge of the SUV lineup. "The Macan will open up new buyer groups for Porsche. It's the perfect vehicle for families. The Audi Q5 is the basis. And onto this outstanding platform we have put a new Porsche. Just building a compact SUV was not enough for us. We built a real sports car with everyday usability."

Compromises and shortcomings: Legroom in the rear is inadequate for tall passengers. Porsche likely will not add a lower-priced four-cylinder base model for the United States.

The Macan may be hard to find on dealer lots this year. About a third of the 50,000 production run will come to the United States, and the rest are going to China and Europe. Additional production will require more investment in the Leipzig plant, on which $600 million already has been spent to build the Macan.

The market: Porsche projects the global market for crossovers to grow an average of 3.4 percent a year for the next decade. About 10 percent of the Macan's sales are expected to be to current Porsche customers. As for competitors, high-performance compact crossovers are few. Perhaps the Range Rover Evoque and BMW X3 will be cross shopped most frequently.

The skinny: The

Macan is astonishingly fast. An array of electronic helpers in the suspension system keep all four tires attached to the pavement regardless of speed. The interior is typical Porsche: upscale, well laid out and extremely functional to help keep drivers' eyes on the road.

The Macan likely will be Porsche's highest-volume model. It will push the automaker's sales over 200,000 for the first time.

The bigger Cayenne got people used to the idea of a Porsche vehicle that wasn't a sports car. The smaller, lighter and more agile Macan should extinguish any lingering doubts that Porsche's DNA can be successfully adapted to other segments.

You can reach Richard Truett at rtruett@crain.com.


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