This is the diesel version of the excellent new Porsche Macan SUV . It produces 255bhp – alongside a whopping 59kgm of torque from just 1,750rpm – and can hit 100kph in just 6.3sec as a result.
This makes the Macan S Diesel by far the most sporting of the various diesel-engined mid-size luxury SUVs on sale at the moment, but it also gives Porsche’s new ‘junior Cayenne’ range genuine depth.
At the top of the tree sits the 400bhp, 265kph Turbo; in the middle sits a less powerful petrol V6, also turbocharged (somewhat confusingly) but known simply as the Macan S; and alongside that car sits this one, the 230kph S Diesel that also happens to be capable of a claimed 16kpl overall.
Although all three Macans are based unashamedly on Audi’s Q5 platform, Porsche insists that less than a third of the moving parts and almost none of the dynamic qualities are shared between the two cars. So while the basic architecture of Q5 and Macan is similar, the way they look and drive is entirely different, says Porsche.
The suspension, for instance, is steel as standard (optional air suspension is available on all three versions) and features struts at the front with a multi-link arrangement at the rear, much like that of the Q5. But in its detail and tuning, the Macan’s suspension and chassis (and its steering, brakes and gearbox) are all bespoke.
The gearbox is a seven-speed PDK, while the brakes and dampers have both been tuned to provide the Macan S Diesel with far sharper responses than a Q5. The driving position is also much lower than in the Q5, while the cabin itself bears little or no resemblance to what you’ll find in the equivalent Audi.
The emphasis with the Macan, inside as well as out, is all about delivering as sporting a driving experience as possible, even when there’s a cast-iron, common-rail turbodiesel engine pumping away beneath its new bonnet.
So, what is it like? In one word refined. In two words, supremely refined. And in four words supremely refined and quick.
There are all sorts of things about the Macan S Diesel that will impress you in the first few kilometres of your first journey in it – the precision and accuracy of its steering, the effortless power of its brakes, the apparent high quality of its ride and the feeling of sitting inside a compact but expensive automobile being just four such examples.
But it’s the smoothness and potency of the power delivery that will most likely leave the biggest impression, long after you’ve climbed out and walked way. That and the creamy interaction with the engine of the quite brilliant PDK gearbox. Combined, these attributes elevate the Macan S Diesel to a completely different level dynamically compared with any car in this class.
Admittedly I only drove it on mostly smooth German roads, and around Porsche’s test track at Leipzig where the car is built, but the overwhelming impression I came away with was that of a supremely well-resolved car. Not perhaps the full blown ‘sports car’ that Porsche would have you believe, but something pretty close all the same. Call it the world’s most practical four-wheel-drive fast hatchback and you wouldn’t be all that far away.
It feels in a different league from the Q5s and BMW X3s of this world when it comes to pure driver appeal, yet the compromise it demands in refinement and comfort don’t really seem to exist. The Macan is as fast as it is refined, as roomy as it is agile, and as sporting as it is comfortable, which gives it a unique breadth of appeal.
It won’t come cheap though, and we hear that the price will be lower than a Cayenne’s, but not by much when it goes on sale. However, if you want the best sporting compact SUV that’s currently made on your driveway, one that boasts a suitably exclusive badge to match, you should definitely consider buying a Macan once Porsche launches it in India.