For decades characterized by its rear-engine, air-cooled sports cars, only venturing into water-cooled, front-engine cars in the mid 1970s, Porsche's diversification into other market segments and vehicle types, while irksome to traditionalists, has brought the brand nothing but good fortune recently, the most poignant example being the Cayenne SUV launched in 2003. A seeming misfit in Porsche's predominantly sports-car lineup, the Cayenne quickly became the brand's best-selling model. But the Cayenne may soon be displaced by its little brother, the Macan, as Porsche's top-seller, according to Automotive News.

Porsche global sales totaled 143,096 vehicles in 2012. Industry analytical and consulting firm IHS Automotive is predicting Porsche could sell as many as 63,000 Macans in 2014, putting the brand ahead of its 200,000 unit goal by 2018 four years ahead of schedule.

But Porsche sales and marketing chief Bernhard Maier downplayed overly optimistic projections for the Macan, saying that the Leipzig, Germany-built SUV will have a gradual production ramp-up, and that the focus will be on building higher-trim, more exclusive models at launch.

IHS predicts that once the Macan reaches its full production capacity, it will become Porsche's highest-volume model. The Cayenne accounted for more than half of Porsche's global sales volume last year. It will also likely be the most affordable model in Porsche's lineup, undercutting the Boxster, which starts at the equivalent of $59,900 in Germany. Starting price for the Boxster in the U.S. is $51,350, suggesting the Macan could start below $50,000 for the U.S. market.

Source: Automotive News