Seoul to celebrate homegrown design

Macan expands Porsche appeal

Macan crossover feels lighter and more athletic than bigger brother Cayenne

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Published : 2014-08-17 21:10
Updated : 2014-08-17 21:10

After its successful experiment with its first sport utility vehicle Cayenne, German sports carmaker Porsche has come up with a smaller SUV, the Macan, to win over new customers.

Despite the earlier skepticism enshrouding the Cayenne’s debut in 2003 that the SUV could water down its brand image, the car has driven up Porsche’s sales by 80 percent. Now half of Porsches sold globally are Cayennes.

Aimed at reviving the success story and joining the already crowded luxury crossover segment, Porsche launched the Macan early this year. (The car hit the Korean market in May.)

The Macan, its name originating from the Indonesian word for tiger, comes in three styles ― the basic S, high-performance Turbo and the latest diesel version. 
[Behind the Wheel /Porsche Macan Turbo]
Design: ★★★★☆, Interior: ★★★★☆, Engine: ★★★★☆, Fuel economy: ★★★☆☆, Cost and A/S: ★★★☆☆

The S is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 340 horsepower, while the Turbo steps up with its 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 engine churning out 400 horsepower.

The car’s styling reminds me of the family resemblances to the Cayenne (front) and the 911 (rear). Despite the acute slant of the rear window, there is plenty of headroom in the back seat.

The interior continues Porsche’s upward trend. The steering wheel design is inspired by the 918 sports car, while the sloping center console allows easy access to a range of information, from navigation directions to the torque split on the wheels.

For my recent four-day test-drive, I was given the fully loaded, high-end version Macan Turbo. Some crossovers often look sporty but end up wallowing on the road, but the Macan feels amazingly close to a sports car.

Its sporty driver seat makes you sit lower and deeper in the cabin. Due to the height, visibility is better than in any other Porsche sports car.

Height never seems to be an issue for driving agility even on the curvy roads thanks to its various different suspensions.

Especially the Air Suspension enables lower riding as it maintains a lower center of gravity and promises better handling.

Steering is relatively light but always with tension and deft.

Even compared to the Cayenne, the Macan feels much lighter and more athletic to drive.

With the new SUV, the carmaker aims to lure new customers, especially women who are not the typical owners of a Porsche.

Considering the diesel-powered Cayenne is a favorite for “soccer moms,” the diesel version is more likely to appeal to rich women.

But the S or Turbo, due to its compact size and enhanced driving performance, seem to be a better fit for entrepreneurs in their 30s or 40s ― regardless of their gender ― who have passion for a sports car or Porscheness but also want flexibility to bring their family into the car.

The fuel economy rating of the Turbo is 7.2 kilometers per liter, while it bristles from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 4.8 seconds. The price starts at 107.4 million won ($105,000).

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)

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