The Numbers

2967cc, turbo V6, AWD, 190kW, 580Nm 6.3L/100km, 164 g/km CO2 0–10km/h in 6.3secs 1880kg

The Topgear Verdict

The closest thing to a sportscar we’ve seen from an SUV. All models are terrific, but the Diesel S is the sweet spot of them all.

2014 Porsche Macan

What is it?

Porsche’s new compact SUV, baby brother to the Cayenne, and the cheapest Porsche in a long time. At $84,900 for the Macan S Diesel, it’s not cheap exactly, but it’s certainly within reach of many more people who’ve always lusted after a Porsche in their driveway.

Porsche says that the Macan is “the sportscar of the compact SUV segment.” Well, it might be the sportiest of the compact SUVs, but it’s not a sportscar. What it is, is a very fast, very nimble and very fun SUV, that has some offroading ability but will spend most of its life onroad, making other SUVs look slow.

What’s in the range?

There’s three models: the base Macan S Diesel, which is the sub-$85k one; the Macan S, which nudges up to $87,200; and the full-fruit Macan Turbo, which leaps up to $122,900. It’s worth pointing out that names notswithstanding, all three Macans in fact have turbos: the diesel has a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, producing 190kW and a solid 580Nm. The Macan S has a 3.0-litre petrol turbo V6, delivering 250kW and 480Nm. And the top-shelf Macan Turbo, has a 3.6-litre turbo petrol V6, throwing off 294kW and 550Nm.

What’s it like to drive?

The good news is just how good the diesel is. Porsche is expecting the diesel the outsell the two petrol models, which isn’t surprising given the price, but if you test drive all three, you might decide the diesel is the sweet spot of them all. If you don’t look at the tachometer – which in the diesel redlines at 5000 and hits the peg at 6000 – you’d be hard-pressed to guess you’re in a diesel at all, it’s so quiet inside, and there’s really no turbo lag to speak of. Better yet, the Diesel S is blessed with a stupendous amount of push if you stick to the mid-range – better, perhaps, than the Macan S. Not that the S is slow – the petrol V6 Macan will do nought to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds (5.2 if you opt for the Sports Chrono package), which is almost a second quicker than the Diesel S. But the Diesel S has that delicious lump of torque – 580Nm from 1750rpm up to 2500 – and just had all the get-up-and-go we asked of it.

The Macan Turbo, of course, is the quickest of the lot: zero to one hundred in 4.8 seconds, or 4.6 with the Sports Chrono, which would keep you on pace with the base model 911 Carrera. And it’s terrific fun to drive – but whether it’s $38,000 better is debatable. If it was our money, we’d take the Diesel S.

And offroad?

If you fancy going offroad, the Macan has an all-terrain programme that you can activate right from the central console, which changes all the systems – shifting speeds, the torque split between front and rear, accelerator response – to maximise traction. And if you’ve plumped for the optional air suspension, the Macan will rise up, increasing ground clearance by 40mm to a maximum of 230mm. It even has a descent control system, so you can set the speed between 3 and 30km/h (depending on how horrendously steep the hill is) and the Macan will control its descent itself, sending traction where it needs to, and preventing you starting to slide.

Would you take this or an SQ5?

This. This thing is totally buttoned-up, has the Porsche badge to boot.

Driven: May 14, 2014