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LA show: Porsche, Mercedes lock horns on SUVs

Top class: The Porsche Macan was unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show where Mercedes-Benz previewed a blistering AMG version of its upcoming GLA compact SUV.

Compact SUV power battle as Mercedes AMG and Porsche wheel out hot shots

Porsche logo21 Nov 2013

By RON HAMMERTON in LOS ANGELES

THE battle among Europe's luxury compact SUV manufacturers is about to get a whole lot hotter with Porsche hinting it is prepared to up the ante on power for its already sizzling new Porsche Macan Turbo, and Mercedes-Benz previewing an AMG-fettled version of its new GLA at the Los Angeles motor show today.

While the new Macan Turbo with its twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6 packs 295kW of power – the most in its class – and can fire from zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, Mercedes has fired a shot across Porsche's bows by announcing its upcoming 265kW four-cylinder GLA45 AMG will bolt to 100km/h in “less than five seconds”.

But Porsche vehicle line director for Macan, Hans-Jurgen Wohler, told GoAuto at the LA show today that Porsche would “watch what the opposition do” before considering whether the Macan would get a power upgrade to keep it king of the pile.

The inference is that Porsche has the ability to step up the performance of the Macan, which is one step larger than the GLA and based on the Audi Q5.

BMW has yet to weigh into the compact SUV power game, but the German company's M division is usually not short of ideas for BMW models and is widely expected to have a crack at high-performance versions of the X3 and X1 at some point.

25 center imageLeft: The Concept GLA45 AMG.

At stake is one of the fastest-growing segments in the world, with Porsche expecting to pick up an extra 50,000 sales a year from Macan which it describes as the new mainstay of its range.

Porsche is also expected to expand the Macan range with more affordable four-cylinder models, using a new engine under development in Germany, as well as a hybrid variant, treading on the toes of both Mercedes, BMW and even its family partner Audi.

Asked about these variants, Mr Wohler simply smiled and said: “No comment”.

As Porsche prides itself on its performance credentials, it can be expected to go after Mercedes-Benz's crown as the producer of the world's most powerful production four-cylinder – the 265kW 2.0-litre turbo in the AMG A-Class, CLA and, from next year, the GLA compact SUV.

This new Porsche engine will not only be applied to Macan but other Porsche models, opening up the possibility of Porsche ownership to a much larger clientele.

The Macan will be launched in Australia in three V6 turbo specification levels Macan, Macan S and Macan Turbo – in the middle of 2014, with pricing to be announced before Christmas this year.

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