The road from Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains of Southern Morocco is a serpentine – and often unpaved—path, travelled by everything from goat herder to transit bus. Aside from the occasional stretch of straightaway or hairpin turn, it’s not exactly the type of drive you’d choose for your Porsche. Then again, you haven’t yet experienced a Porsche quite like the all-new 2014 Macan.

Macan—an Indonesian word for Tiger—isn’t the brand’s first digression from its deep sports car roots, but it may be the most exhilarating, non-conventional move yet. While it took time for many a purist to develop a palate for the full-size Cayenne SUV, its new sibling is an immediate tastemaker—due in large to the most literal embrace of the term “crossover” that a manufacturer has squeezed out to date. Not unlike Morocco—where we got an early chance to go beastmode with this cat—the Macan is a clash of language, culture, and style, which deserves your visit, if not extended stay.

Courtesy of William K. Gock

From front, back, or profile view, the Macan delivers the foremost trait you’d expect from anything bearing the gold Stuttgart shield; an unmistakable Porsche identity. But don’t label it a mini Cayenne. Granted, the two ‘utes share a brotherly resemblance, however the Macan’s wide rear wheels and athletic stance echo an equally close bond to the 911. Give it the ol’ side-eye, and you’ll notice that the lower body-panel styling also mimics the brand’s new, almost million dollar halo-car, the Bugatti-bruising 918 Spyder.

Questioning a Porsche’s speed is like debating whether Jay-Z and Beyoncé can sell out Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. As with the entire Porsche lineup, the biggest decision to make is whether you want “a lot” or “a whole lot” of horsepower. Macan’s ‘S’ variant—which delightfully rocketed us to speeds deserving of a foreign prison—delivers 340 horses from a 3.0 liter twin-turbo V6, while the ‘Turbo’ ups the ante to an even 400 out of its 3.6 version. Both models boast a power band that is even, immediate, and completely capable of overtaking lesser road-bound objects with ease. Inside the cabin of both, the trimmings are what you’d expect from Porsche; neat, precise, and not over-elaborate. A tri-ringed gauge cluster further echoes the performance focus, while paddle shifters—mated to a seven speed dual-clutch transmission—are standard issue, always there to add a little pounce to your drive dynamic. Already the fastest offering in the compact SUV segment, the Macan still manages to deliver comfortable rear seating and more than adequate cargo space—making ownership justifiable for bachelor types and tiger-moms alike.

There’s just one thing Porsche left out of the Macan’s mix—a massive distribution plan. While a base model Macan S starts at $50,895 (a steal for what it delivers), biting won’t deliver the cookie-cutter presence of many the competitors. In its debut year, which just kicked off this summer, Porsche plans to only sell about 50K units globally—maintaining the levels of exclusivity they’ve become famous for. All you bargain-seeking B-listers, also take note that a Porsche dealership is not the Medina; there will be no bargaining or back-room deal cutting no matter who you are. As we learned the merchants of Morocco like to close with, “This is a very good arrangement for everyone.”

2014 Porsche Macan S & Macan Turbo
Engine: 3.0L Twin-Turbo V6/3.6L Twin-Turbo V6
Power: 340hp, 339 lb.-ft./400hp, 406 lb-ft
0-60: 5.0 sec/4.4 sec
Fuel Economy: 24 city, 26 hwy/16 city, 18 hwy