Can’t pronounce ‘Macan?’ You’ll still want Porsche’s brawny new crossover

The name Macan comes from the Indonesian word for tiger.

While it might not be the best name in the world, it’s a sight better than the last Volkswagen Group car named after a tiger: the Tiguan, which was a combination of the words ‘tiger’ and ‘iguana’.

Delightfully, the Macan’s questionable name, which is pronounced ‘ma-kahn’ and not ‘mā-kon’, doesn’t distract from the sporty significance of the all-new Porsche crossover.

Enough with the pleasantries, though, let’s get to the meat of the thing.

Despite previous reports, the U.S.-bound 2015 Macan will be offered in two models: the entry-level Macan S, starting at $49,000, and the Macan Turbo, which will start at $72,300.

The Macan S is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 340 horsepower, which will be bolted to the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. It’ll go 0-60 mph in 5.2 second and reach a top speed of 156 mph. Check the little box on your order sheet for the optional Chrono Sport package, though, and your Macan S will charge to 60 in 5.0 seconds.

The top-of-the-line Macan Turbo is powered by a new 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6, which will also be mated to the PDK, and makes 400 hp good for a 0-60 sprint in 4.6 seconds and top speed of 164 mph. Check the Chrono box on the turbo model, too, and you’ll get to 60 in a swift 4.4 seconds.

On both Macan models, Porsche Traction Management (PTM) is standard. Unlike normal all-wheel drive systems that split torque evenly to all 19-inch wheels, the PTM system sends all power first to the rear axle. This electronically-controlled rear axle always driven but can transfer up to 100 percent of torque to the front axle – by way of a multi-plate clutch – to the front.

2015 Porsche Macan top motion

That clever all-wheel drive system is keenly paired with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) that has been specially tailored for the all-new CUV. And the Macan, Porsche brags, will “set new standards in the field of driving dynamics and enjoyment – on both pavement and off road.”

Punch the button that activates the off-road function of the Macan and the air suspension – a class-exclusive feature – raises the vehicle ride height by 1.58 inches, up to 9.06 inches of ground clearance. When it comes to steep hills, the Macan can handle that, too, with the Porsche Hill Control (PHC) downhill assistance that can be activated between speeds of 2 and 18 mph.

Sure, off-roading in your mid-size German sports crossover seems a bit laughable. But think of the faces of the hillbillies in their old Chevy Blazers when you rip past them on the trails, sipping your Starbucks. While the Porsche dealer can put a hefty price on replacement parts, wheeling your Macan is truly priceless.

You might be wondering why Porsche doesn’t offer a rear-drive Macan. While that answer is multi-faceted, Porsche considers itself a pioneer of all-wheel drive systems – and rightfully so.

The German brand debuted its first all-wheel drive car, the Lohner-Porsche racecar, in 1900. Believe it or not, this exceptionally early all-wheel drive racecar featured electric wheel hub motors – one at each wheel. This is a technology that automakers are only now beginning to implement in modern-day all-wheel drive system.

But I digress, back to the Macan.

The exterior design of the Macan is unmistakably Porsche. And one you can get used to, as it isn’t likely to change much for the next decade … or four decades, to be fair.

Designed to look broad and low, the Macan bodylines incorporate the lines of its big brother, the Cayenne, the most iconic Porsche, the 911, and the all-new Porsche flagship plug-in supercar, the 918 Spyder.

2015 Porsche Macan interior front

Porsche brags that designers have “strategically positioned precision edges” throughout the body of the Macan. I only include that statement because I think it’s delightfully German buzz-speak.

Seriously, though, the sloping roofline, which Porsche calls the ‘flyline’, is a nod to the 911. The 918 Spyder, though, inspired the Macan’s headlight and taillight designs.

On the interior, the Macan S comes standard with piano black trim and Alcantara seat inserts. The Macan Turbo is fitted with leather and brushed aluminum trim. Both models, however, can be spec’d with either dark walnut or carbon fiber trim throughout the cabin.

Just like in a racecar, according to Porsche, the gear selector has been set high in the center console and surrounded by ‘important buttons’, which are arranged for intuitive operation.

My favorite of all the interior features has to be the red leather. There are few things sweeter in this world, in my mind, than a red interior.

Surprisingly, Porsche hasn’t made much of a technological effort – at least in the cabin. The infotainment screen is only 4.8-inches across and the press release hasn’t made much mention of autonomous driver aides or, really, much safety equipment at all. Surely, you’ll likely be able to order your Macan with plenty of safety kit. But like all good Porsches, you’ll have to pay to play.

Regardless, the Macan is just as exciting – if not a bit more – than I had hoped. It’s compact but spacious, sporty but seemingly off-road capable, and good looking without being gauche.

I’ll withhold my final judgment until I get behind the wheel of this sleek Teutonic tiger. For now, though, it seems that Porsche hasn’t just moved the bar for the compact sport luxury crossover. It’s pulled it off the wall and made a sprint for the hills.

What of a Macan S Diesel or a Macan S E-Hybrid? We’ll ask the Porsche brass on the show floor. Be sure to watch for that and all our 2013 LA Auto Show coverage.

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