Porsche's most important car is now its cheapest

Porsche MacanPorscheThe 2017 Porsche Macan.

Porsches are designed and built for speed, handling and an overall soul-satisfying driving experience.

They are not built down to a price point, and affordability isn’t usually a concern.

Based on the Stuttgart-based automaker’s booming sales and industry-leading profit margins, they Porsche shouldn’t be concerned with such things anyway.

But the company’s latest offering might just be the best of both worlds. For 2017, Porsche is selling a more affordable version of its robustly selling Macan S and Macan Turbo crossover.

With a base price of $47,500, the pocketbook friendly Macan will be the cheapest car Porsche sells in the US — a distinction previously held by the $52,000 Cayman sports car.

The Macan S and Macan Turbo are two of Porsche’s most important cars. They’re also Porsche’s offering in what is perhaps the most brutally competitive segment in the market. Fortunately for Porsche, they have a winner on their hands. Macan sales are up nearly 75% so far this year.

The biggest difference with the new Macan will be under the hood. In place of the current Porsche-only twin-turbo V6, there will be 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder unit sourced from parent company VW Group.

A 220-horsepower version of the same engine can be found in Audi’s segment leading Q5 crossover. Although the Porsche and the Audi are based off of the same platform, roughly 70% the Macan’s parts are different from the Q5. In fact, the Audi is front-wheel-drive oriented, while the Macan is setup to be handle gobs of horsepower sent to the rear wheels.

Audi Q5AudiThe Audi Q5.

So no. This isn’t an Audi with a Porsche badge.

For Macan duty, Porsche has retuned the 2.0-litre motor to produce 252 ponies, which in turn should propel the crossover to a manufacturer claimed 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds. In case you were wondering, Porsche claims the four-cylinder Macan crossover should reach a track top speed of 142 mph.

Other than the smaller engine, the affordable Macan will remain virtually identical to its powerful sibling. This includes the company’s stellar 7-speed PDK dual clutch transmission and Porsche Traction Management system.

Business Insider had the opportunity to sample a 340-horsepower twin-turbo Macan S recently and was blown away. The Macan S is the best handling crossover I’ve ever driven and it could easily be mistaken for a German sports sedan. It’s really that good. The handling is crisp and the PDK transmission shifts like it has precognition built into its software.

The Macan’s interior styling is shared with the rest of Porsche’s lineup. It’s button-heavy design is not for everyone and may overwhelm some who are not familiar with the car. However, once you get a used to it, the buttons become more intuitive.

As with many major car companies, Porsche’s infotainment system leaves one wanting. The navigation system is accurate, but doesn’t deliver the level of detailed instruction needed for city driving. In this case, Porsche may be better off borrowing the infotainment system from its corporate sibling at Audi. It’s not that the Porsche system is terrible. It isn’t. It just isn’t as good as Audi’s system, which is probably the best in the business right now.

The Macan S’s sport seats were comfortable and supportive while the panoramic sunroof floods the cabin with sunlight.

The compact and luxury compact crossover market is tough. Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Range Rover have been flooding it with world class offerings. But the demand for the Macan remains rock solid and a more affordable model will only add to customers’ options.

The 2017 Porsche Macan will make its official world debut at the 2016 New York International Auto Show later this month. The new Macan is expected to reach US showrooms this summer.

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