2017 Porsche Macan adds four-cylinder engine, lowers price

This photo provided by Porsche Cars North America, Inc. shows the 2017 Macan. The Macan, Porsche’s smallest SUV, is more affordable and more fuel efficient for 2017 and is stocked with more standard equipment than ever, including a rearview camera. (Courtesy of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. via AP)

The Macan, Porsche's smallest SUV, is more affordable and more fuel efficient for 2017 and is stocked with more standard equipment, including a rearview camera.

The new base model, called simply the 2017 Macan, has the Macan's first four-cylinder engine and carries a starting retail price, including destination charge, of $48,850. That's $4,745 less than the starting retail price of the 2016 Macan which came only with V-6s.

There is less power in the new base Macan than in last year's base model and less power than in the other four 2017 Macans with six-cylinder engines.

But the 2-liter four cylinder is turbocharged, and the 252 horsepower and 273 foot-pounds of torque generated provide plenty of get up and go and strong cruising speed in typical Porsche fashion. In fact, if the test vehicle was any indication, drivers need to keep a close eye on the speedometer, because this new Macan easily gets to 85 miles an hour on highways without the driver realizing it.

The special blended character of this Porsche — part SUV and all sports car — remains intact. This new Macan, at just over 15 feet in length, feels like a higher-riding but still tenacious, road-hugging Porsche, agile and responsive.

The smaller engine is lighter weight than the 3-liter and 3.6-liter sixes, so the base Macan with no options weighs just 3,902 pounds — 210 pounds less than a Macan with a V-6.

The lower weight and fuel efficient four cylinder produced better fuel economy ratings from the U.S. government: 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 mpg at legal highway speeds. That compares with the 17/23-mpg ratings that the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Macans received.

The gas tank is sizable, at 19.8 gallons, and the Macan four-cylinder engine uses premium fuel. But for the first time, the Macan's travel range on a single tank of gasoline tops 400 miles. Even the test Macan, which was driven in a sporty manner and averaged 20.7 mpg, could go more than 400 miles without a fill-up.

Consumer Reports magazine predicts Macan reliability should be average, and Porsche tied with Lexus at the top of J.D. Power and Associates' 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study released last month.

Introduced for the 2015 model year, the five-seat Macan with standard active all-wheel drive already is a best-seller at Porsche. During calendar 2016, U.S. Macan sales of 19,332 surpassed that of any other Porsche. Through February, U.S. sales were up an additional 42 percent from the first two months of 2016.

Badge-conscious, luxury buyers can enjoy the Macan with all manner of optional luxury trappings, though prices quickly rise. As an example, a base, 2017 Macan with $3,120 Carmine Red special paint, $5,400 wheels, leather Red Garnet interior and Burmester premium surround sound system is priced at more than $69,000.

After just a bit of turbo lag, power in the test SUV came smoothly and forcefully through the seven-speed PDK automatic transmission, and the engine sounded powerful.

Brakes had strong stopping power, and steering reacted quickly to even slight inputs from the driver.

The array of 19 buttons clustered around the Macan gearshifter in the center console is an impressive presentation, yet easy to understand.

The upgrade for only $260 to standard interior with luxor beige Alcantara seats is a bargain for a rich-looking interior.

Critics have complained the Macan's maximum of 53 cubic feet of cargo space is small, but the test Macan carted three desk chairs and seven boxes of supplies just fine.

Early in March, Porsche announced a U.S. safety recall of 17,871 Macans built from 2014 to Oct. 20, 2015. The vehicles' detection mats in the front passenger seats could fail, meaning front-passenger frontal airbags might not deploy during crashes.

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