2015 Porsche Macan
Credit: Courtesy Porsche

2015 Porsche Macan

At Porsche, everything is built around the racetrack. The newest member of the family, the 2015 Macan is no exception. A compact crossover packed with performance, the Macan is far from your humdrum Whole Foods hauler.

While the Macan comes more than a decade after Porsche shook the sports-car community with the Cayenne — to huge sales success — this small-SUV, which does share its core underpinnings with the Audi Q5, isn't merely a rebadge job. If anything, it sets a realistic precedent for the direction of future Porsche vehicles.

At first glance, there are several distinguishing highlights to note: a wraparound clamshell aluminum hood that not only looks awesome when raised, but weighs just 38 pounds and incorporates large front air intakes that scream power; the signature Porsche fly line that slopes rearward across the roof and references abound to the 918 Spyder supercar, including the blackened side blades and the rear 3-D smoked LED taillights. Its profile projects an utterly muscular silhouette traceable to the 911: tight up top, wide at the shoulders ("magic hips," as they've been nicknamed). That staggered effect extends all the way down to the wheels, which are wider in the rear. Note the clean design of the tailgate; a small button at the base of the rear windshield wiper fills in for a traditional rear hatch handle.

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Paired to an active AWD system and a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission are two six-cylinder gas engines exclusive to Porsche: a 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 in the Macan S that produces 340 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque and a 3.6-liter twin turbo V6 in the Macan Turbo that produces 400 hp and and 406 lb-ft of torque.

Inside, the left side ignition, tachometer, and cockpit console are iconic Porsche — as is the lengthy list of options that can send your Macan into six-figure territory. Complementing the airy, sporty and, again, 918 Spyder-inspired steering wheel is a low seating position — 2.7 inches lower than the Cayenne, in fact. With the second row seats folded, storage is a healthy 53 cubic feet.

Because this is a Porsche, performance is key. The stock suspension will no doubt suffice for the car's everyday pursuits, but there are several levels of suspension upgrades available, including Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and air suspension. Couple that with the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) for sharper driving dynamics and stability, and cornering and handling become unmatched in its class. And going off road is a cinch: simply engage the mode by pressing a button and the Macan more than proves itself on unsettling uneven terrain. Porsche Hill Control (PHC), meanwhile, keeps the vehicle speed constant during downhill maneuvers.

About 80 percent of Macan buyers are new-to-the-brand customers and, judging by their initial reactions, it's been a runaway success: the 10,000 units allotted for the U.S. in 2014 is already sold out. A diesel variant is also expected to arrive, possibly in 2015.

Macan is Malay for "tiger," and the name is meant to convey the car's agility. Given its seamless adaptability both off-road and on-track, the name fits. Simply put, the Macan nails the compromise between capability and practicality.

[$49,900; porsche.com]