Macan critical to Porsche sales success

Macan critical to Porsche sales success

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Porsche has just launched three versions of its all-new mid-size Macan SUV onto the New Zealand market, with the diesel version being the entry level version.

The 3-litre Macan S turbo diesel is priced from $118,000, the 3-litre V6 Macan S is priced from $121,000, and the 3.6-litre Macan Turbo is priced from $156,000.

Porsche general manager Greg Clarke says the Macan SUV is a critical new model for Porsche New Zealand as well as the brand globally.

Clarke says that the mid-size Macan SUV remains true to the core value of the brand and is the sports car of its segment.

Porsche has declared it wants to produce 200,000 units by 2018.

That growth will be organic and product driven says the factory, but every product will remain a true Porsche.

According to Clarke more that 30% of new vehicle sales locally are now in the SUV segment because New Zealanders have a love of horses, caravans, jet skis and boats hence a mid size SUV such as the Macan is a great opportunity to grow the Porsche brand locally.

Currently Porsche NZ are sitting on more than 80 pre ordered vehicles.

The number of new Porsches sold has crept up slowly since 2009 when the brand sold 109 units.

In 2010 Porsche sold 125 units, followed buy 146 in 2011, 160 in 2012, 187 in 2013, and this year the brand estimates it will sell 290 vehicles, of which 60% will be SUV.

Clarke comments that the market remains strong: “Spookily I don’t think the impending election has affected the market as yet, its still very strong, and we will certainly sell 80 Macans this year.

He says in 2015 Porsche should sell well beyond 300 units locally, Clarke expects the number to be around 330 to 340 units but says Porsche NZ faces supply challenges as a lot of international markets are returning to strength – so there is already a growing demand for the Macan from the factory.

There are more models to come this year to assist in securing sales, Clarke says the new Porsche Cayman and Boxster GTS models arrive in September followed by the arrival of the new 911 Targa 4 and 4 S, which he says has already received much inquiry from potential buyers.

Driving impressions

The Leipzig-built Macan SUV is imbued with Porsche DNA thanks to a low and wide body, with contrast side blades which can be left in their factory lava black finish, painted in body colour, or replaced with real carbon fibre as required.

All of the Macan variants presented at the media launch had their side blades painted in body colour so we weren’t able to make a comparison on which looked better.

All three models have twin tail pipes, and all are equipped with the 7-speed PDK Porsche dual clutch automatic transmission. Inside the cabin the design of the instrumentation is very similar to the 911, Cayenne, and Panamera, which means existing Porsche owners will feel right at home.

The Porsche Communication System with a wide screen is standard across the Macan S, Macan Diesel S, and Turbo models, and uniquely it is also equipped with a scallop shaped bonnet which encases the headlamps, in a similar fashion to the first generation of the BMW built Mini Cooper.

Of the five Macan vehicles available to the media for the drive programme, four were equipped with the optional air-suspension while the sole turbo diesel version was equipped with the standard steel suspension and this particular vehicle proved to be the pick of the bunch for performance and handling.

The air-suspension is standard on the Macan Turbo and optional on the Macan S and Macan Diesel S. It offers a comfort-mode, sport-mode and off-road mode, and can also lower the rear of the car by 40mm to allow easier loading into the rear cargo space.

Incidentally the Macan Diesel S is Euro 6 compliant and is equipped with a 22 litre tank for AdBlue diesel exhaust fluid which should provide about 1000km per litre, and therefore need only be topped up at regular service intervals.

The permanent 4WD system used in the Macan comes from the 911 model, its a constantly variable system with a clutch – and the torque split bias in normal driving is usually 80% to the rear wheels, and 20% to the front wheels.

The 190kW Macan Diesel S is the torque-meister of the three variants with 580Nm on tap, and we felt the conventionally sprung chassis combined with the 19-inch wheel and tyre combination offered the most responsive and involving drive with the greatest ride comfort on our return drive from Auckland to Rotorua.

While the air-suspended 3.6-litre Macan Turbo (294kW/550Nm) roared into overtaking action with plenty of bravado as befitting a sports car that thinks its an SUV, the ride quality from the low profile 20-inch wheel and tyre combination produced a noticeable amount of noise over chip sealed roads.

On smooth motorway asphalt the tyre noise rapidly disappeared on the Macan Turbo but unfortunately for us most of the press drive programme was on regular state highways with a ship sealed surface.

The Macan Turbo didn’t feel quite as connected to the road as the diesel version driven, the bigger wheels and air suspension which come standard on the Turbo seemed to mildly anaesthetise the feeling through the steering wheel, however there was no lack of grip on the road, nor performance.

Running in between the diesel S and the 3.6-litre Turbo was the 3-litre V6 Macan S (which also utilises twin turbochargers to produce 250kW/460Nm), which while not as ferocious as the Turbo during hard acceleration, still offered plenty of speed and agility when called for.

Choosing which Macan is best will be completely arbitrary – while we feel that the steel sprung Macan Diesel S would be the most comfortable day to day proposition, the Macan Turbo will satisfy those who demand dynamic performance at the touch of a button and a pedal, and the Macan S is somewhere between the two, but more than likely will appeal to people who wouldn’t necessarily consider the diesel option, but feel the Turbo offers more grunt than they need.

New Zealand bound Macans also get a reversing camera and full leather upholstery as standard but the options list runs to such items as seat heaters, seat cooling, panoramic glass sunroof, larger wheel and tyre combinations, lane keeping assist, lane change assist, adaptive cruise control, Sports chrono package, Porsche torque vectoring plus, power steering plus, and Porsche car connect.

The 14-way power seats with comfort memory package are standard in the S models while the Turbo gets 18-way adaptive sports seats with comfort memory package – and these can be set up to hold you snugly while exploring the dynamic envelope of the car.

While we could happily live without such options as the panoramic roof, lane keeping assist, and Sports Chrono package, the seat heaters are worth every penny on a cold Rotorua morning, and the power steering plus package makes low speed manoeuvring absolutely effortless, yet gives more precision at higher speed.

The Macan SUV range throws down the gauntlet in the premium SUV space and we think that it will easily conquest buyers who would have the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 on their shopping list, and quite possibly Range Rover Evoque buyers as well.

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