By Shari Prymak

2015 Porsche Macan S - Porsche may be famous for building sports cars and racing machines, but these days, its best-selling models are not sports cars, but trendy SUVs. The Cayenne has long been the German company’s best seller, and closing in on it quickly is the new Macan, the brand’s smallest and most affordable crossover.

Despite occupying the entry-level spot in the model lineup, the Macan is instantly recognizable as a Porsche. Many of the handsome styling cues from the larger Cayenne carry over, but with an added level of sleekness and detail. On the inside, the comfortable seats, button-intensive centre console, and high quality materials will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has sat inside a more expensive 911 or Panamera. The Macan even does one better by offering an excellent, 918 Spyder-inspired steering wheel as standard.

The true mark of a Porsche, however, is not its styling, but its performance. It is here where the Macan is a bit of a standout. All Macan’s comes equipped with a turbocharged V6 engine, but where the Turbo model makes 400 horsepower, the entry-level S model gets by with 340. Still, that’s more power than you get from just about any other small crossover, and it’s enough to make the Macan feel properly quick. Credit must also go to the brilliant 7-speed, dual-clutch PDK gearbox and its lightning-quick gear changes.

I didn’t get a chance to test the Macan’s off-road capability, but apparently it has some. In any case, the real story is not what it can do off the road, but on the road The Macan has earned a reputation as the sports car of the crossover world, and it’s not hard to see why. The combination of accurate steering, taut suspension, and a rear-biased all-wheel drive system instill confidence, and allow the Macan to carry out the driver’s instructions without fuss. Whether it be carving a winding road or hustling to a late soccer practice, the Macan is perfectly suited to the task.

In true Porsche fashion, the Macan offers a dizzying array of options, many of which have eye-popping price tags. It is possible, however, to tip toe through the mine field of options and come out the other end with a relatively well-priced product. To the base MSRP of $57,200, the only option I’d add is the $6,970 Premium Package Plus, which nets you goodies like a backup camera with front and rear sensors, dynamic xenon headlights, 14-way adjustable, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a panoramic roof, among other things. Options like active suspension management and torque vectoring are cool, but they’re more likely to lose their value over the long-haul.

It may be a family-friendly crossover, but given its small size relative to its price, the Macan is really an emotional purchase above all else. Aside from perhaps the Range Rover Evoque, no other crossover in this segment can match the Macan for sheer presence and badge appeal. And none come close in terms of overall performance. When you consider all of its strengths, it’s not hard to understand how the Macan has become an instant hit. If it fits your budget, put this one on your test drive list.