BY MARK KEAST, RE: LUXE MAGAZINE

Warning signals go off like a symphony. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

City driving has its own unique set of challenges, especially navigating the downtown streets of the Big Smoke – Toronto. Winter, summer, spring, fall, it doesn’t matter. New cycling-only lanes mean a big uptick in a stream of two-wheel traffic. Urban densification brings more pedestrians, many with their heads down, eyes glued to their mobile devices. More streetcars making more stops. Construction rolls on, and the city continues its remarkable growth unabated.

But you still need to get to places. This time it was a 2017 Porsche Macan – jet black, agate grey interior – that was taking us where we needed to go.

I had driven a Macan previously. Two years ago it was a road trip east along the 401, to a spa in Prince Edward County. That one was the Turbo version – well-suited for highway driving.

This test version for city driving was more basic – 19-inch Macan turbo wheels, Sport Chrono Package (adds a stopwatch with an analogue and a digital display to the cockpit; performance display in PCM lets you view driving stats, like total driving time, lap distance and lap time recorded so far) being the only options.

The Macan is selling well in Canada – 2,800 units were sold in 2016, a 32% jump compared to 2015, according to Porsche Canada numbers. By early March they had sold 468 Macans in Canada, a 90% increase over the same amount of time in 2016.

That doesn’t surprise me. There are compact SUVs and there are compact SUVs. There is the cache in owning and driving the Porsche brand. The Macan is at the top of the class – from design, to driving dynamics, to equipment specification. Porsche offers entry-level versions, Sport S models and more upgraded GTS and Turbo models, but all have one thing in common – injecting a sportscar style and performance into everyday SUV driving.

Heading north up Mount Pleasant — a nice little pickup (2.0 liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder, 252 hp, 273 lb-ft torque; 0 to 100 kph in 6.7 seconds). I took note of the better handling and road-holding of the braking system (brake discs are internally vented for consistently robust braking power). Winding through King St., off Bathurst St., with bunch of errands to run. I need a coffee, so there’s a quick little caffeine hit at a favourite coffee stop in Liberty Village (not Starbucks). I park the large coffee into the cup holder on the front center console armrest.

When rain, then snow, starts to fall, I flip on the automatic, rain-sensing wipers. The 8-way power seats in the front (seat heating, seat height and backrest adjustments) assure comfort in the crappiest of downtown traffic driving conditions.

I love the sideview of the vehicle – muscular, especially how the front bonnet stretches through to the wheel arches.

In other words, the Macan remains steady luxury, high-end quality that has become routine for Porsche.

That takes us to those warning signals. ParkAssist, including proximity sensors, are standard on all Macan models. (Lane Departure Warning also is standard, while Lane Change Assist — monitoring areas to the rear of the vehicle as well as blind spots – and Lane Keeping Assist – a camera installed in the front end to detect divider line marking on the road, steering the back into the center of the land if the driver starts to cross one of the lines – are optional.) The sensors are integrated harmoniously in the front and rear end. When reversing the vehicle into my downtown condo parking spot, the rear-view camera and audible alerts guided me in. The camera imagery is displayed in the central display screen in the cockpit, showing the proximity of obstacles to the rear.

An option is a Surround View Camera System, if you feel so inclined, available for around $1,360, giving the driver a 360-degree bird’s eye graphical representation of everything around the vehicle.

But what did surprise me was the price tag for the Macan tested: $57,185.