PASADENA, CA – Few people predicted Porsche, with its sports-car lineage, would score big with the Cayenne CUV when it launched a decade ago. Things worked out nicely. It’s the brand’s best-seller, making up 43% of U.S. deliveries last year.

So along comes Porsche with another ute that, on paper, makes a lot more sense than the original Cayenne, with two excellent new turbocharged engines, a crisp-shifting dual-clutch transmission, a lighter body, lower center of gravity and a more attractive price, starting at $49,900.

Time behind the wheel isn’t even necessary to know the Macan (pronounced like pecan) has a good shot at success.

But after driving it at the track, off-road and on winding mountain roads here in scorching heat, its prospects can be illustrated with a basketball analogy.

If the Cayenne proved to be an easy layup for German engineers who knew nothing about SUVs, then the Macan is Air Jordan soaring through the lane, tongue wagging, ball raised like a lethal tomahawk about to find its target.

Two points – with style, attitude and grace.

Having honed its utility game with the Cayenne, the Stuttgart product-development team set out to create a vehicle that embraces every brand characteristic Porsche holds dear.

The Macan is like a highlights reel, with the agile hustle of the Cayman/Boxster, the ride comfort of the Panamera, the rugged flexibility of the Cayenne and the composure of the 911.

Derived from the capable Audi Q5, the Macan proves Porsche’s absorption into the VW Group in 2012 hasn’t been all bad. Yes, it unflinchingly carries over the Q5’s general shape, but there the similarities end.

For instance, the “magical hips” are more pronounced than those on the Q5 to emulate 911 styling, and the Macan also makes do without a grab handle on the liftgate, enhancing a smooth, sleek look.

Why the gushing optimism for a vehicle that’s late to the compact luxury CUV party? Because no automaker has made one quite like this, with twin-turbo V-6s generating 340 hp and 400 hp, respectively.

And because, unlike similar offerings from BMW, Mercedes and Audi, none is set up with a standard 7-speed PDK automatic (the only dual-clutch in the segment) and a chassis/suspension package that is legitimately fun at the track.