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Out of the box, the Macan is the world’s fastest, sportiest vehicle in the world’s most dynamic market segment

April 4, 2014

Also from Issue 219

  • Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1
  • 1957 Carrera Speedster
  • Low-mileage 914/6
  • 356/911 SC mashup
  • 2014 Rolex Daytona 24
  • Tech Primer: Racing Wheels
  • Porsche’s South African Racing, Part II
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Ah, Leipzig in February. Does there seeem a more inappropriate place and time to launch a new Porsche? Well, there was good reason to drive the new Porsche Macan deep inside a German winter, where snow falls when it isn’t just cold and wet. It would offer us the opportunity to sample the compact SUV in a range of conditions as well as tour the Leipzig plant where tens of thousands of Macans are about to begin flying off the line.

However, Porsche being Porsche, the range of conditions for our first drive included, in a somewhat surreal experience, hot laps—on all-season tires!— around the Leipzig test track behind a 991 C4 S.

While this is not something I would normally attempt, I am happy to report that high-performance all-season tires have come a long way in recent years. Of course, the 20-in. low-profile Michelin Latitude rubber could provide neither the steering precision nor sheer mechanical grip of summer tires, but these winter boots did a very decent job of showing off what the Macan chassis can do in extremis.

I drove the three Macan models that will be offered initially, and though all three are powered by turbocharged engines, the nomenclature is the Macan S, the Macan Turbo, and the Macan S Diesel, the one model that won’t be coming to America—at first. We have been promised by a Porsche spokesperson that it will appear in the U.S., though it probably won’t be until early in 2015.

Chasing a Porsche test driver around a racetrack in an SUV is pretty bizarre, and though the Macan S is no slouch—it does have 340 hp to play with—the 400-hp Carrera weighs about a thousand pounds less and was simply going to drive off into the distance on power-to-weight advantage alone.

Just as obvious, but hugely pleasing, was the instant response of Porsche’s new V6 bi-turbo motors, which have consigned turbo lag to the history books. Blip the throttle in neutral or park, and the revs rise and fall as effortlessly as if the engine were a well-set-up naturally aspirated motor.

This feeling of low internal engine inertia continues on the move with snappy throttle response and a willingness to play that is both enticing and rewarding to the enthusiast driver. There is nothing subliminal with the way these snappy and smooth engines unfold their character and potential.

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