Cape Town - It is, in so many ways, a true Porsche - distinctive, not particularly pretty, but extraordinarily competent thanks to potent engines and state-of-the-art running gear. In other words, a car to be driven, rather than admired and fussed over.
Stuttgart's eagerly awaited Macan mid-sized SUV was launched in South Africa this week in a three-variant line-up, each with all-wheel drive and Porsche's signature seven-speed PDK double-clutch transmission and paddle shift, and each available with a choice of three suspension setups.
Your basic (if any Porsche since the 550 could be thus termed) Macan S comes with a three-litre biturbo petrol V6 delivering 250kW at 6500 revs and 460Nm from 1450-5000rpm, sufficient for 0-100 in 5.4 seconds (5.2 with the optional Sport Chrono package) and 254km/h flat out.
The range-topping Turbo S has a 3.6-litre long-stroke version that's good for 294kW at 6000 revs and 550Nm from 1350-4500rpm, disposing of the 0-100 sprint in 4.8 seconds (4.6 when Sport Chrono'ed) and reaching 266km/h at full tilt boogie.
The Macan S Diesel torques the talk with a (completely different) 180kW, three-litre V6 that boasts a tar-wrinkling 580Nm from 1750-2500rpm, resulting in 0-100 taking 6.3 seconds (6.1 with Sport Chrono package) and a top end of 230km/h.
Denis Droppa, editor of our print sister publication Star Motoring, was at the launch in the Western Cape.
"There was no Macan Turbo available to drive on the media launch," he wrote, "but I did get to drive the Macan S.
"Even with nearly two tons of SUV to schlep around, this turbo three-litre still felt very lively and delivered a fairly soulful holler.
"The turbodiesel engine delivers the best mix of enthusiasm and economy; it may not have quite have the vocal charisma of the petrol V6 but this velvety-voiced diesel impressed with its immense torque and fiery acceleration."
Drive is via PDK, PTV Plus torque vectoring and an electronically controlled rear-axle differential lock, delivering drive torque primarily to the rear axle, with varying levels diverted to the front wheels as required.
An offroad mode, said Droppa, activated at speeds up to 80km/h at the press of a button, adapts the all-wheel drive system and transmission for maximum grip in slippery conditions.
"It's a rear-biased system, and its understeer-minimising effect was brought to light in how early you could boot the throttle out of tight corners. Nice."
The two petrol engines also have an uprated idle-stop function that switches off as soon as the car's speed drops below 2km/h - even with active cruise control engaged - and starts up again as soon as the brake or accelerator is pressed.
And when you're out on the open road, lifting your foot off the loud pedal completely will shift the transmission into neutral, so the car can coast with the engine idling until, once again, you touch the brake or accelerator.
Between them, says Porsche, these two functions can save as much as a litre of petrol per 100km, contributing to the quoted figures of 8.7 litres per 100km for the S and 8.9 for the Turbo, while the Diesel gets by on a claimed 6.9 litres per 100km.
Suspension is by aluminium five-arm wishbone in front and trapezoidal-wishbone at the rear. The Turbo comes with active suspension management (it's on option on the other two) while any of the three can be ordered with height-adjustable air suspension - which Porsche claims as a first for the segment.
Droppa wrote: "Even though it has the elevated ride height of an SUV, the mid-sized Macan rides and handles like a true Porsche, delivering sharp, sports-car like responses, with the taut chassis, meaty steering, and tangibly solid feel of Porsche renown."
Macan S diesel - R862 000
Macan S - R873 000
Macan Turbo - R1 239 000
Read Denis Droppa's full launch story in Star Motoring on 31 July.