It’s a sweltering day as the temperature in Ras Al Khaimah, one of the emirates making up the UAE, creeps towards the 40-degree mark. Counter-intuitively, our hosts have plotted a route that leads us away from the coast where the balmy waters of the Persian Gulf lap onto the shore. Instead, we’re headed to the interior to try out a ‘special road’ we’ve been promised will be a true test of the Macan’s dynamism. Indeed, after escaping the rush of the city, the mountain pass leading up into the Hajjar mountains and the emirate’s border with Oman’s Musamdam province is spectacular. The Macan is no dynamic wallflower.
During his address to the media Christer Ekberg, who is the MD for Porsche Middle East and Africa, pointed out that despite the addition of Macan to the Zuffenhausen portfolio, ‘Porsche will remain an exclusive maker of sports cars’. And so it is that the company that brought us 911, Cayman and Panamera is also launching what it calls the world’s first sports car in the compact SUV segment. Audi’s Q5 – on which the Macan is based – had better watch out.
Zero high-riding drama
The road we’re on rises from sea level to roughly 1900m in a dizzying array of switchbacks and hairpins, none of which manage to unsettle the Macan. This SUV might have the proportions of a baby Cayenne, but it certainly has the attitude of a 911. It corners fast and flat with barely a whisper of body roll and the Macan S I’m driving responds instantly and steadily to any squeezing of the throttle pedal. If it’s drama you’re after, however, the Turbo is definitely your game since it showed immense grip levels while howling and backing its way through the bends.
The compact SUV segment is one of the few vehicle segments that continue to register growth in a contracting market. Porsche is so convinced of Macan’s future success it has completed a half-billion euro upgrade of its Leipzig plant (where Cayenne and Panamera are also produced), adding a third production line to meet the projected capacity of 50 000 units per annum.