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2015 Porsche Macan S / Turbo First Drive

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It's been ten years already, but if you still haven't absorbed the reality of a Porsche SUV, brace yourselves. There's a second one--and it's probably the best crossover SUV we've driven.

Let us first-drive you into reality with the 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo, the vehicle that will cement Porsche's presence in utility vehicles, while you scour for all the loose change you can spare.

First, some background. Porsche's been building five-seat Cayenne SUVs since the 2004 model year. It's been a runaway success, responsible for about 80,000 sales a year. So why not drill a little deeper? With the ground broken, Porsche began planning the five-seat Macan as a companion piece, even giving it the code name "Cajun," for "Cayenne Junior."("Macan" means "tiger" in Malay--and "little boy" in Scottish Gaelic.)

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Like the Cayenne, the Macan shares some VW Group DNA--in this case, about a third of its parts with the Audi Q5. Turbocharged V-6s are standard with all-wheel drive, with a turbodiesel and possibly a turbo four to come.

It's even built alongside the Cayenne in Leipzig, Germany. Porsche's turned part of Leipzig into its own Hamtramck, building a 2.3-mile test track, as well as a visitor's center that's best described as a Close Encounter of the Patti Labelle Kind.

But as Porsche's chief designer Michael Mauer says, "The Macan has to be much more than a shrunken Cayenne." It has to be more sporting than a BMW X3; more grunty than a Mercedes GLK off-road; more than an Audi Q5 cannibal; more evocative than an Evoque.

Is it? Yes, but it's a matter of degree. The Macan S, at $50,895, threads its way through those thorny comparisons. A $73,295 Porsche Macan Turbo, with premium suspension and torque vectoring, blasts by them, removing any doubt. It's a vehicle that lives up to every letter of the SUV acronym.

Let us explain.


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