When is an SUV not just an SUV? When it’s a sportscar SUV, according to Porsche's description of its new Macan. Some media information from the company qualifies this rather confusing definition by apparently creating a sub-species: “The first sportscar in the compact SUV segment,” and, trying again, “The Macan is the sportscar of the compact SUV segment.” Even the diesel version is described as “the long distance sportscar.”
Porsche’s technology and engineering strengths have been built on exotic, premium sportscars, notably the 911, and cascading elements of that into the Cayenne SUV, in production since 2002, proved no bad thing, although it is no sportscar.
So, controversial though the SUV sportscar claim for the Macan may be for purists, Porsche CEO Matthias Müller is confident about it: “We have been accused of being controversial in the past when we launched the Cayenne, but when people got in the car they soon realized that it drove like a true Porsche. Macan will make the marque accessible to many people who did not think they would one day own a Porsche.”
Whatever it is, the Macan, production of which has just started after its appearance at U.S. and Japanese motor shows, is expected to take Porsche vehicle sales above 200,000 units next year. Built at the company’s Leipzig, Germany, facility, the initial manufacturing target is to see production ramp up to 50,000 units per annum. Müller made it clear that demand is expected to put pressure on this figure, and that Porsche has contingency plans to up it considerably. Last year, about half of Porsche's sales total of 162,100 units were Cayennes.
The Macan (the nomenclature is also somewhat confusing; in Malay/Indonesian it means “tiger,” but in Scotland it can mean “little boy,” and in Old English “to create”), like so many vehicles in the close-knit family that is the extensive Volkswagen Group, shares some fundamental architecture and technology with the Audi Q5 but sufficiently modified/re-designed/tuned to ensure that the result is a “real” Porsche. The Audi link helped trim development time to three years.
The original Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg SUVs were also closely related, the former developed to give it a clear, separate identity that was to take it to impressive sales success.
The essential message of the Macan’s design is that from its powertrains (two gasoline turbos and a diesel, with some downsized units to come) to its Porsche-honed chassis, and its opulent interior, it fits the company’s dynamic, aesthetic, quality, and technology template.
As with every Porsche, it is engines that are the Macan’s central asset. The star is the 294-kW (394-hp) 3.6-L V6 developed from the company’s 3.0-L biturbo specifically for the Macan Turbo. The volume hike is thanks to a stroke increase from 69 to 83 mm (2.72 to 3.27 in). It uses two turbochargers having maximum boost pressure of 1.2 bar (17 psi) to give the car a best 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 4.6 s.
The Macan S (also biturbo) has the free-revving 3.0-L V6. Its turbochargers have a maximum boost pressure of 1.0 bar (15 psi). Maximum output of 250 kW (335 hp) is achieved between 5500 and 6500 rpm and 0-100 km/h time is 5.2 s in Sport Chrono configuration. Sport Chrono’s features include a gearshift strategy with racetrack mode, having ultra-short response times and “launch control.”
Porsche’s VarioCam Plus continuous variable inlet and outlet camshaft control is used on both engines. Its shared direct fuel injection (DFI) operates at 200 bar (2900 psi), though jet and taper angles have been optimized, stated Porsche. DFI makes for improved cooling inside the combustion chamber and facilitates a high compression ratio of 9.8:1 for the Macan S, 10.5:1 for the Turbo.
Engine lubrication is dry sump. This, plus sump shaping, facilitates lubrication under what Porsche quantifies as “extreme” driving conditions. A bonus is that not only does the combination help towards a low center of gravity, it also increases ground clearance. The balancer shaft module is used to drive the oil pump.
Similar to that used in the larger Cayenne, the Euro 6 specification 3.0-L V6 diesel engine with 2000-bar (29-ksi) common rail injection has been “enhanced” by Porsche, including its optimized fuel injection system. It produces 190 kW (255 hp) and 580 N·m (428 lb·ft) between 1750 and 2500 rpm, to give a best 0-100 km/h time of 6.1 s. Compression ratio is 16.8:1.
All engines drive through Porsche’s seven-speed Doppelkupplung (PDK) double-clutch transmission. No manual gearbox is available for the initial three Macan versions.
Pedestrian protection requirements were partly responsible for the use of a fresh air duct under the hood with two channels directed towards the turbochargers of the gasoline engines.
Chassis aspects of all Macan versions include an electromechanical steering system with power on demand that saves up to 0.1 L/100 km of fuel. Optional Power Steering plus lightens steering effort at low speeds.
Engine management system controlled radiator shutters also contribute to fuel saving (Porsche gives no specific figure) via reduced aerodynamic drag—0.35-0.37 Cd depending on version. Braking and overrun provide some energy recuperation, an intelligent thermal management system is fitted, and the Macan gets a stop-start system.
While the Macan uses the basics of Audi’s Q5 platform, it is extensively changed and borrows some Porsche 911 facets, or “selected chassis technologies.”. These include a standard-fit active all-wheel-drive system (rear-wheel biased, of course), derived from the Cayenne's system, with electronic map-controlled multiplate clutch. PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) can be combined with an optional air suspension configuration, which lowers the car by 15 mm (0.6 in) in regular running.
Using a modular platform enables individual systems and components to be given the Porsche “feel.” Even the driving position is lower.
Aluminum axles and chassis components are used. The front suspension includes a five-link layout, and the rear incorporates an aluminum trapezoidal link arrangement. Axle support, though, is in high-strength steel to help achieve required torsional rigidity.
Mixed tires can be used with differing dimensions front and rear. As well as offering some dynamic advantages, they also “emphasize the sportscar look” of the Macan, says Porsche.
Other electronic chassis aspects include Torque Vectoring Plus, with variable standard torque split at the rear wheels plus an electronic differential lock. The Macan gets Traction Management, Automatic Brake Differential, and Anti-Slip Regulation.
The car sits on a 2807-mm (110.5-in) wheelbase, which is 88 mm (3.5 in) shorter than the Cayenne's. The Macan is 165 mm (6.5 in) shorter than the Cayenne S and diesel.
An off-road mode is button-activated by the driver and available at speeds up to 80 km/h (50 mph). Off-road capability includes a maximum ramp angle of 19° and ground clearance of 230 mm (9.1 in), approach and departure angles of 26.6° and 25.3°, respectively (all with air suspension).
Can’t do all of that in just a sportscar.