LOS ANGELES – Expect Porsche to once again disprove cynics who scoff at the need for a premium CUV geared for German autobahn speeds.
Unveiled at the auto show here and slotting below the shockingly successful and larger Cayenne CUV, the ’15 Porsche Macan goes on sale in the U.S. in late May or early June base-priced at $49,900 for the S model and $72,300 for the turbo. Western Europe is expected to get the Macan first, in April.
Production is under way at Porsche’s Leipzig, Germany, plant with two shifts on one production line shared with the Cayenne and Panamera sedan.
Porsche is prepared to deliver 50,000 Macans worldwide annually, says Bernhard Maier, Executive Board member-sales and marketing.
“With Macan starting, we will have two shifts in production, but we are already prepared if necessary to enhance to a 3-shift line,” Maier tells WardsAuto. “The 2-shift approach will be enough for our current targets.”
Even Porsche’s most zealous fans could not have predicted the runaway success of the Cayenne, which arrived in 2002 and became the brand’s No.1 seller.
Through the first nine months, Cayenne deliveries are up 34.6% to 13,913 units, selling nearly 2-to-1 better than the automaker’s second-place 911.
Porsche is on its way to breaking last year’s record sales, already delivering 35,112 vehicles through October, a 24.4% improvement over like-2012.
“That makes the U.S. the fastest-growing market worldwide,” Maier says at the press conference introducing the Macan, which is the Indonesian word for “tiger.”
He plays up the “resilience” of the U.S. market and says Porsche’s 189 dealers are eager to have the Macan as a way to bring new, more diverse customers into showrooms.
Maier says Porsche loyalists in the U.S., Asia and Europe have been demanding a performance-oriented compact CUV that also meets the functional needs of young families.
“I’ve driven it too and can tell you our engineers have in fact achieved such a combination,” he says, adding off-road capability is exemplary as well.
Porsche executives have said they expect Macan sales to be split about one-third each for the major markets of North America, Europe and Asia. If first-year volume expectations reach 50,000 units, that would place about 17,000 Macans in North America, likely making it Porsche’s best seller.
Developed in Weissach, the car shares its architecture with the Audi Q5 CUV, but 70% of components, including powertrain and suspension, are unique to Porsche. Although car-based, the automaker calls it an SUV.
The Macan S, powered by a 340-hp 3.0L twin-turbo V-6, can accelerate 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.0 seconds. The Macan Turbo’s 400-hp 3.6L twin-turbo V-6 makes the trip in 4.4 seconds. A diesel engine will be offered in Europe but not the U.S.
Both gasoline engines employ direct injection and Porsche’s VarioCam Plus variable valve system.
The CUV is the first Porsche to get the 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission as standard across the entire range, along with active all-wheel drive. Also standard are a stop/start system and electromechanical steering.
Optional equipment includes ceramic brakes, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, air suspension, adaptive cruise control, carbon-fiber interior trim and an automatic headlight-leveling system.
Maier says the Macan is one of several new Porsches in the pipeline that should help grow sales for the brand. “We haven’t even launched the 911 Turbo, the Turbo S, the 911 GT3 or the Panamera hybrid,” he says.