The Porsche Macan is doubling the German brand’s range of SUVs.

Porsche Macan Turbo - 4

It’s 11 years since the Cayenne stirred controversy among enthusiasts as it launched to break Porsche’s status as a pure maker of sports cars.

The bigger SUV has comfortably become the company’s biggest seller globally, though the smaller, more affordable Porsche Macan can be expected to displace the Cayenne in that respect.

Porsche Macan Turbo - 4

CarAdvice is at the international launch of the Macan in Leipzig, Germany, where the model is being built. We’ll bring you a review soon, but for now here’s our lowdown on the vehicle Porsche is labeling the “sports car of SUVs”.

Why the Macan name?

Porsche Macan S - 3

Porsche’s working title for its new compact SUV was ‘Cajun’ – a play on Cayenne Junior. The company, however, insists this is more than just a smaller version of the Cayenne, so believed Macan – which is Indonesian for Tiger – was a more fitting name.

How much and when can I buy it?

Porsche Macan S Diesel - 1

No current Porsche costs less than $100,000 but the Macan will start from $84,900 before on-road costs when it arrives in mid 2014. That price is for the S Diesel (pictured above) that forms a trio of models also including two twin-turbocharged V6 petrols – the $87,200 S and $122,900 Turbo. The first 150 Macans due in Australia will cost more, with each fitted with a Sport Pack comprising roof rails, side skirts, Sport Chrono pack, 20-inch alloy wheels (21s on Turbo), panoramic roof, and brushed-metallic interior trim. Prices for Sport Pack versions are $98,270 for the S Diesel, $100,560 for the S, and $134,740 for the Turbo.

Isn’t it based on the Audi Q5?

Porsche Macan - 1

The Macan does indeed share its basic architecture with its Volkswagen Group cousin, and the two models share the same 2807mm wheelbase. The Macan is longer (by 53mm), wider (by 25mm) and lower (by 31mm). And good luck finding visible similarities. Porsche says 70 per cent of the Macan’s make-up is exclusive. Just as the company made the Cayenne a different-feeling and different-looking beast to the Volkswagen Touareg with which it shared parts, Porsche has set out to give the Macan superior performance, steering, handling and braking ability compared with its relative.

What engines are available?

Porsche Macan S - 1

All three V6 engines are teamed with a seven-speed ‘PDK’ dual-clutch gearbox, with power distributed to all four wheels. The slowest but most efficient Porsche Macan is the S Diesel. Its Audi-sourced 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel produces 190kW of power at 4000-4250rpm and the highest maximum torque in the line-up (580Nm) from 1750-2500rpm. It accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds and has official consumption of 6.1 to 6.3L/100km depending on the tyres fitted. The Macan S is fitted with a smaller-capacity, shorter-stroke version of the model’s two Porsche-developed twin-turbo petrol V6s. The 3.0L generates 250kW at 5500-6500rpm and 460Nm between 1450-5000rpm, and brings 0-100km/h performance of 5.4 seconds and fuel efficiency of 8.7-9.0L/100km. The Turbo’s 3.6L offers up 294kW at 6000 revs and 550Nm from 1350-4500rpm. Acceleration dips below five seconds (4.8sec) for the benchmark sprint to triple figures, with fuel use rated at 8.9-9.2L/100km. Your Macan can go two-tenths of a second quicker if you pay extra for the Sports Chrono package.

Not one, not two, but three chassis set-ups?

Porsche Macan S - 6

The S and S Diesel models sit on a conventional steel-spring suspension, though can be optioned with a secondary chassis that combines that suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). PASM is standard on the Macan Turbo and uses multiple sensors to constantly adjust shock absorbers. Air suspension is a first for the compact SUV segment and available for an extra outlay. It brings a number of benefits. The ride height starts off 15mm lower than steel-sprung Macans with a corresponding lower centre of gravity, and by selecting Low Level (by pressing the PASM or Sports Plus button) the SUV drops another 10mm (180mm) to hug the road even closer.

Can I take the Macan off the bitumen?

Porsche Macan S - 5

Most Macan owners are unlikely to stray too far from sealed roads, though like the bigger-brother Cayenne there is scope to be reasonably adventurous if the mood or situation demands. The all-wheel-drive Porsche’s sporty focus sees the rear wheels driven always, with torque sent to the front axle via a multi-plate clutch if surface conditions get slippery. Porsche says all torque can be sent to the front wheels if you were driving on ice to aid traction, though the rear axle remains in play. All Macan models come standard with an Off-road mode that, when selected, adopts traction-focused vehicle settings – including faster-acting transfer of torque between the front and rear axles – for speeds between 0 and 80km/h. Pressing another centre console button can also bring downhill control that allows vehicle descent speed to be varied between 3 and 30km/h. If you’ve ticked the optional air suspension box, ground clearance can be raised to 230mm (compared with 198mm ride height of regularly suspended Macans).

Plenty of optional extras, no doubt?

Porsche Macan Turbo - 1

An electric tailgate, paddleshift gear levers and a powerful audio system are among standard features, but of course there are plenty of ways to increase the dollar figure on your Macan bill. Torque Vectoring Plus can apply subtle braking touches to the inside rear wheel to help push the Macan around corners. The Sports Chrono pack is a well known Porsche option by now, again bringing an analogue clock to the dash, lap-timing capability, launch control and a Sports Plus button that when pressed turns the vehicle into a more track-focused weapon with more aggressive gearshifts, for example. And if you do like to take your Porsche, even if it’s an SUV, to circuits, you might want to tick ceramic brakes for more forceful and consistent stopping power (and they also save weight). Australian pricing for these options is yet to be confirmed at time of writing.

Does the Macan get the controversial electro-mechanical steering from Porsche’s sports cars?

Porsche Macan Turbo - 5

Yes. The Macan is ahead of the Cayenne in switching from a hydraulic steering rack to electric set-up that saves a bit of fuel but also allows Porsche to add a lane departure warning system that can vibrate the steering wheel in the event of an accidental manoeuvre across white lines. An optional Power Steering Plus is designed to provide more assistance at lower speeds and a less reactive set-up at higher speeds for improved precision.

Any neat tricks and is it actually practical?

Porsche Macan Turbo - 2

If you have a Macan fitted with the optional air suspension and find the Macan’s boot loading lip is too high, a button in the luggage compartment can be pressed to lower the rear by 50mm. Like some other Volkswagen Group models, the Macan features a ‘coasting’ function that can put the engine into neutral with lifts of the throttle when cruising – with potential to save a litre of fuel every 100km. Boot space is 500 litres, expandable to 1500 litres by folding the dividing rear seats.

Will the Macan range expand beyond three offerings?

Porsche Macan Range - Wide

Porsche doesn’t mind a variant or five for its models, and its has recently confirmed the Macan will be available in GTS and Turbo S guises down the track. Don’t be surprised to see a hybrid version too, powered by a drivetrain borrowed from the Panamera sedan. Four-cylinder engines are also under consideration but yet to be confirmed.

Stay tuned to CarAdvice for a review of the new Porsche Macan.