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While the Macan S does not quite lay bare its soul or engage you in the way that a Carrera, Boxster or Cayman does, its broad spectrum of driver-orientated attributes include nicely judged steering, finely balanced handling, good ride and impressive grip, and a driving experience that is both well tempered and leagues ahead of any would-be rival.

So just who are the Macan’s rivals? Right now there are none that can go directly head-to-head with Porsche’s compact SUV. In fact, any machine that has previously laid claim to being a Sports Utility Vehicle now has to contend with being exposed as a great pretender. As I quickly established on the day, the Macan alone owns the right to use “Sport” in this segment.

The Audi RS Q3 is in a category below, made abundantly clear by the fact the Q3 is the smaller brother of the Q5 that serves as the Macan’s starting point. The GLA45 AMG is not a direct competitor, either; it is a crossover rather than an SUV.

And what of Range Rover’s dashing Evoque? Not only does the Evoque come only with four-cylinder power, this doyen of the fashionable set finds itself completely outclassed in all dynamic respects by the V6-powered Macans.

On that score, however, until the four-cylinder Macan versions destined for the Chinese market arrive at the end of 2014, followed by other countries if sufficient demand is there, we are not comparing apples with apples.

In both engineering and styling terms, Porsche has sprinkled stardust on the Audi Q5, a good but unexceptional mid-range SUV that compares favorably with its good but unexceptional class rivals.

I asked the Porsche engineers just how much Q5 was actually left in the mix by the time they had the Macan just the way they wanted. The answer, “One third!” came back lightning fast, which told me this is no mere cosmetic makeover but a complete re-engineering job with the breadth and depth that is so typically Porsche.

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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