Doctor on the Road


Cayenne SUV: Calling any petrolhead medic who lives in the real world where practicality and family needs figure highly. Check this beauty out, says Independent Practitioner Today motoring correspondent Dr Tony Rimmer

In our medical practice, we are constantly striving to optimise treatments, both medical and surgical, to fulfill the health requirements of our patients.

To get the right balance is challenging as there is never a single therapy or piece of advice that works for all situations. Some degree of compromise is inevitable.

And it is no different when having to choose your new car. Go completely sporting and the stylish low slung two-seater is great to drive but uncomfortable and impractical.

Go utilitarian and the large and roomy comfortable off-roader just doesn’t cut it as a driver’s car. So is there a vehicle out there that can fulfill both roles and optimise our diverse needs? Well there may be now.

When Porsche launched the big Cayenne SUV in 2002 everyone thought that this sports-car manufacturer had made a big mistake.

Lost its way
It had lost its way and was pandering to market forces. Well it may have been the smartest thing that Porsche has ever done because globally, the Cayenne is Porsche’s biggest profit maker and allows investment in newer and ever improved classic 911, Cayman and Boxster models.

However, the Cayenne is a big car and rivals the Range Rover in size and price. Most of us in Europe and the UK want smaller cars that are more suited to our more compact roads.
Porsche’s answer is the new Macan. Built on the same platform as the Audi Q5 but with lots of applied Stuttgart magic, it claims it to be the first truly sporty medium sized SUV on the market.

There are three important variants on the car’s launch this year with different engines options.
The S model comes with either a 335bhp 3.0litre twin-turbo V6 petrol allowing 32.5mpg or a 254bhp 3.0litre V6 turbo diesel with 46.3mpg and both models cost the same, £43,300.
Top of the range is the Turbo with a 3.6litre V6 twin-turbo and produces 394bhp and does 31.7mpg but costs £59,300.

I have driven all variants on road and the track at Goodwood and have been spending a further week testing what is likely to be the biggest selling version, the S diesel.
The Macan is instantly recognisable as a Porsche and I think the smaller size works much better for the shape than the bigger Cayenne.

It is the smartest looking SUV out there. Step inside and you could be in a Cayman or even a 911.

Steering wheel
The steering wheel, controls and silver trim is pure ‘family Porsche’ and the driving position is spot on. Trim materials are, as you would expect, very high quality.
There is space for five adults and all their luggage which is on par with a BMW 3 series Touring and more spacious than a Range Rover Evoque.

Although parking sensors and an electric tailgate are standard, you have to pay extra for cruise control and sat-nav – that’s a bit disappointing.

Starting the diesel engine causes the first surprise. Instead of the usual diesel clatter, the unit is really quiet and on the move the smoothness impresses to the extent that I really had to check that it was the diesel version I was driving.

Power is plentiful and the broad spread of torque works superbly with the brilliant 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission that comes as standard.

The second surprise becomes obvious on the road. This SUV drives and handles like a sports saloon. The steering is perfectly weighted and accurate. The handling is athletic and rewarding.

The Macan is great fun to drive! With the standard steel spring suspension, the Macan rides well but is firm.

My advice would be to opt for the adaptive suspension (PASM) for £785 which gives the choice of damper settings to be dialed in on the move. Even better, go for the £1,789 Air-suspension with PASM which allows a range from super-firm track-mode to super-soft limousine mode.

So does the Macan succeed as the perfect all-rounder? Does it fit the bill for a busy medical professional who hasn’t got a fleet of cars for all occasions?

Well I think it does and it passes the test with honours. This is a car to satisfy the petrolhead medic who lives in the real world where practicality and family needs figure highly.

The diesel S does everything you need it to do and has excellent fuel economy as a bonus. It also carries that special Porsche badge and can wear it proudly.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Cayenne SUV
Engine: 3.0litre V6 turbo-diesel
Power: 254bhpTorque: 580 Nm
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 6.3 secs
Claimed economy: Combined 46.3 mpg
Price: £ xxxxx[/box]

Dr Rimmer is a GP practising in Guildford, Surrey