Driving in the city of Marrakech isn’t for the faint of heart. While we’re still within sight of the excellent La Mamounia Hotel (Arset El Maach; 212-52/438-8600; mamounia.com), an island of calm that the likes of Hitchcock and Churchill enjoyed, every proximity bell and whistle in the new 2015 Porsche Macan is shrieking as traffic edges to within an inch of the vehicle. Motor through a congested, lane-less traffic circle and you’ll have to judge the relative oncoming speeds of cars, trucks, buses, scooters and three-wheeled contraptions—plus horses and donkeys with or without carts of their own.
It’s with some sense of relief, then, that we find a long, straight road relatively devoid of traffic pointing toward the snowcapped Atlas Mountains. Marrakech now is in our rearview mirror, and in retrospect, it was quite the driving adventure from the helm of this brand-new mini-SUV. Though the Macan isn’t quite the off-road vehicle the larger Porsche Cayenne SUV is, its smaller size makes the Macan better suited for navigating narrow dirt and gravel-packed trails like these more comfortably. (This is Berber country, and the roads are used mostly by these non-Arabic herders for walking their animals from one high pasture to another.)
While there is little doubt that the Range Rover Evoque, first released in 2011, pioneered the luxury compact SUV segment, other carmakers—in addition to Porsche—are following suit. Take a look through our slideshow to see what’s coming.