Observer writer

Friday, March 20, 2020

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IN the adrenaline-filled finale of the 1996 Michael Bay blockbuster The Rock, Stanley Goodspeed played by Nicholas Cage saves himself by stabbing his own chest with a hypodermic needle to jump-start his heart. In this day of Hollywood remakes and reboots, a suggestion would be that this scene be redone with Goodspeed jumping in a 2019 Porsche Macan and driving off, as that act would provide a similar rush of adrenaline.

On the outside, the Porsche Macan is like a fine watch. To the common man from a distance, it looks like another nice-looking compact sport utility vehicle (SUV), but get closer and those with higher taste will quickly recognise the distinctive lines that mark it out as a Porsche — like the pronounced rear shoulder lines it shares with the iconic 911. Around back, the latest evolution of the Porsche logo and rear lights combine with enough fresh elements to discern itself as attractive, especially when purchased in one of the available dramatic metallic colours.

What everyone will recognise is the stunning interior. Accessed via four door keyless entry, the cabin is pure luxury as one is greeted by a liberal use of stitched leather on every conceivable surface, of which the stand out are the electronically adjustable memory seats and their Porsche crest embossed headrests. Even the centre arm rest gets the same treatment. Where there isn't leather, gloss piano black trim and carbon fibre accents fill in. The interior just oozes premium even without the panoramic sunroof open.

Fire up the Macan and it's dead quiet at any speed. There's plenty of SUV-ness built in. Storage is everywhere having USB ports, rear vents, front and rear, a 12v in-trunk outlet, and seatbelt use monitor are some of the things that make it easy to live with. All major functions can be automated and forgotten. The large infotainment screen is easy to use via touch as it senses approaching fingers and can be operated using the steering wheel control. The system is home to a myriad of personalisation options, a multi-angle high resolution parking camera and a great BOSE stereo.

The two-litre turbocharged engine pulls smoothly along with the seven-speed PDK gearbox and the compliant chassis to make every day driving an act of serenity. However, you don't buy a Porsche to putter around in traffic. Find a clear piece of road, engage Sport+ mode from the dial on the chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel, for those with the Sport Chrono Package. Step on the brake and then the accelerator. The engine rpms will drop quickly and then spike to 5,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) and hold there for a few seconds signifying that launch control is active. Should you take up the invitation, the Macan leave all but the fastest sports cars in its wake reaching 60 miles per hour (mph) in 6.5 seconds on its way to a terminal speed of 140mph.

It doesn't stop there, the brakes present nothing but confidence to slow in a straight line or to scrub speed for any upcoming corners. Here the Porsche DNA shines through. The very same chassis that cossets in mundane tasks pumps feedback into the driver's body. The steering gains an accuracy that's transmitted through the hands while the chassis passes the weight transfer and the tyre grip from the four-wheel drive system all at the same time. The sensation is the embodiment of driver engagement. Those sport-inclined will have no problem getting into a rhythm with the Macan no matter the road type. Then it hits, this isn't your regular SUV. Whatever line there was between car, sports car, and sport utility vehicle had just been erased.

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