New small “tiger” is prowling the hills of Western Pennsylvania

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There’s a new small “tiger” prowling the hills and valleys of Western Pennsylvania. It has plenty of bite for off-road fun, but is fast enough to turn heads on the track. Named after the Indonesian word for “tiger,” Porsche’s 2015 Macan is the brand’s very first small crossover utility. Or is it simply a 911 masquerading as a CUV?

It depends on whom you ask.

It was only a matter of time before Porsche came out with its own CUV after the success it enjoyed with its mid-sized Cayenne. And while the Macan has all the design cues and performance DNA worthy of the brand’s iconic crest, it has its own personality, both on and off the road.

With a low, broad, low stance, wraparound hood and gently sloping roofline, the Macan should bring a whole new consumer into Porsche showrooms. Porsche is also banking on its success, retooling its facilities to be capable of producing more than 50,000 vehicles a year.

Given what’s under its hood, its suspension, and the dynamic driving features it offers, it comes as no surprise that the Macan blurs the line between a sports car and a CUV.

Under the hood, you get your choice of two different engines. On the Macan S, you’ll find a 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 340 horses. It sprints from zero to 60 miles-per-hour in just 5.2 seconds and achieves a top track speed of 156 miles-per hour. And it’s the slower of the two models.

Opt for the more powerful Macan Turbo, and you’ll get a 3.6-liter twin turbo engine capable of more than 400 horsepower, a zero-to-60 time of 4.6 seconds and a top track speed of 164 miles per hour.

Both engines are mated to Porsche’s world-renowned Dopplekuppling gearbox as standard. This seven-speed automatic offers excellent start up performance and extremely fast gear changes without interruption in traction. It also contributes to improved fuel economy, although that is rarely a consideration when buying a vehicle like the Macan.

Active all-wheel drive is standard on both models, but it’s designed to deliver most of the power to the rear wheels, unless more traction is needed up front. This gives the pure sports car enthusiast the feel of rear-wheel drive on the track, while still affording increased safety for the everyday driver in inclement weather.

If you want to take the Macan off-road, this little tiger is ready to pounce. An off-road mode comes standard, and is activated by pressing a button on the center console, but only when traveling under 50 miles-per-hour. When you hit the button, all relevant systems are switched to a traction-oriented program that recalibrates shift points and speeds for a greater level of traction.

Similarly, the clutch is pre-tensioned to a greater degree in order to provide the front axle with the appropriate drive torque more rapidly. And the standard torque split between the front and rear axle, as well as the accelerator response, are adapted to off-road conditions as well.

You can even increase the ground clearance by more than an inch and a half above its normal level for a total of more than nine inches total clearance when traveling off-road. And, when properly equipped, the Macan can tow over 5,200 pounds.

While those latter attributes certainly make the argument for the Macan’s use as a CUV, every model also comes standard with a sport mode button on the console to the left of the gear selector. In addition, you can also switch the gear selector to the left for manual control, or even use the paddle shifters on the steering wheel if you just want to have a little fun on the track or on the road.

The Macan is a game-changer for the Porsche brand. And with base stickers that start under $50,000, it should attract a lot of new drivers to the brand as well.

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