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Auto blogThu, 22 May 2014 11:57:00 EST
You know the sound: the startling pop-brraaap-pop-pop shotgun fire of unspent flammables coursing through exhaust pipes that usually signals a raw, naughty powerplant beneath the hood.
But when you're nestled in the Porsche Boxster GTS' snug seats, it's not a crackling small block V8 or a high-strung Italian flat crank making the devilish racket, but rather the new king of the Boxster/Cayman lineup, a 3.4-liter flat-six that produces 330 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.
Within the emotional vacuum of a spec sheet, the Boxster GTS' pumped-up grunt seems pretty mild, with a gain of only 15 hp and 7 lb-ft, respectively. But the reworked acoustical experience goes a long way towards suggesting the GTS has a trace of racing blood in its veins, and might even be missing its catalytic converters. In addition to the sonorous, centrally positioned tailpipes, the cabin also fills with lovely mechanical strains thanks to the "Sound Symposer" acoustical amplifier that's trickled down into the Boxster/Cayman lineup from the 911 for the first time. Boxster S, we hardly knew ya.
The misinformation first started back in May of 2007 - more than six years ago - when word came that Porsche was developing a compact utility vehicle to fill out its product line. Rumors swirled that the German automaker's future "Roxster" would be based on the then-upcoming Audi Q5. By September of 2010, the name had changed to "Cajun," but the vehicle was still expected to be "based heavily on the Audi Q5," said reports in the months that followed. One year later, the first test mules were spotted, the mechanics hidden beneath barely disguised Audi sheetmetal, which did nothing to give the upcoming model its own identity. And even after Porsche announced "Macan" as the vehicle's production name in early 2012, articles stated that it would "arrive on the same chassis as the Audi Q5, though with suspension, brake and engine tweaks suitable to the Porsche range."
It's no wonder that most still consider the all-new Porsche Macan nothing more than a heavily massaged Q5.
To help lift some of the mystery surrounding its latest release, Porsche hosted us in Germany for an in-depth look at its new crossover (while Europeans call it a "sport utility," its car platform allows us to call it a proper CUV). The technology workshop offered us insight to the design and mechanical execution, and it concluded with a short test ride. The trip was both enlightening and educational - and it left us with a whole new perspective on the Macan.
I knew it was a softball question, but I asked it anyway. It's pretty standard for automakers to offer up some examples of competitors when they invite the media to drive a new vehicle for the first time. If not stated outright, it's just as standard for some journalist to query about the competitive set as soon as the Q&A begins. I knew full well that Porsche believes it has a valuable new niche to itself with the 2015 Macan (and especially with the Macan Turbo), but I wanted to hear the answer to the competitor cars question anyway.
Porsche CEO Matthias Müller didn't hesitate for a second to respond. With a half-smirk appropriate to an executive that is about to launch the (very probably) most profitable and best-selling product in his brand's lineup he chuckled, "Of course, I could be arrogant and say this car has no competitors..."
Arrogant? Well, the grinning Müller certainly didn't give off a humble vibe as he proceeded to count down a list of German and British utility vehicles from various classes that are clearly behind the pace of the Macan in either looks, luxury, or sporting prowess - Range Rover Sport, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK among them.