Porsche Macan review
Porsche knows how to make an appealing SUV. It did it with the launch of the Cayenne back in 2001, and now plans to do it again with the new Macan.
Pitched as a rival to luxury mid-size SUVs like the BMW X3, the Macan is based on the same underpinnings as the new Audi Q5.
Although it shares its architecture with the Audi, though, don’t think of this as a re-badged Ingolstadt mile-muncher. No, Porsche has well and truly made the Macan its own, adding distinctive style flair both inside and out, as well as an impressive range of engines.
It’s easy to see classic Porsche flair in the Macan’s face, especially in its 911-inspired headlights and a front section taken from the second-generation Cayenne.
At the rear, the Macan’s sloping roofline means it takes on a distinctly coupé-like shape, with a heavily angled tailgate and a rounded rear end. Initially, some were concerned that the Porsche’s sharing programme with the Q5 would cause it to take on a more muscular profile. But in the metal, those fears are dispelled.
In top-spec Turbo guise, the Macan measures 4699mm long by 1923mm wide, with a height of 1624mm and wheelbase length of 2807mm. That makes it shorter, narrower and lower than the Cayenne. The other versions, for reference, are slightly shorter
As well as making the Macan a stylish option for buyers, Porsche has also ensured the new SUV is practical. There’s a spacious and stylish interior, as well as a cavernous boot. With 500 litres of storage space, the Macan’s boot is some 40 litres bigger than the Q5’s, and just 170 litres behind the Cayenne.
Space inside is plentiful for both drivers and two rear passengers, although the need to fit a third person in the back of the Macan will be hampered by its large transmission tunnel. The cabin’s layout is refreshingly familiar, with an upmarket feel and adorned with plenty of premium materials.
Again, it’s very similar to the Cayenne, but the Macan gets its own multi-function steering wheel inspired by the 918 Spyder as well as a new touchscreen infotainment system and a high-set centre console.
You sit relatively low in the Macan, which enhances its sporty feel, plus there’s good all-round visibility. Rear passengers won’t find their headroom compromised by the sloping roof, plus there’s decent levels of legroom on offer.
The Macan range comprises three models: the standard S, the S Diesel and the range-topping Turbo. The Macan S uses Porsche’s own twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol unit with 335bhp and 339lb ft of torque, while the Macan Diesel S gets an Audi-sourced 3.0-litre turbodiesel with 254bhp and 427lb ft.
At the top of the range sits the Macan Turbo, which is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre petrol engine, producing 394bhp and 405 lb ft of torque.
Even in base S form, the Macan is an impressive SUV. At £43,300, it’s some £16,000 cheaper than the Turbo, but crucially is exactly the same as the S Diesel.
With a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds, a top speed of 158mph and the ability to return 31.4mpg on a combined cycle, the Macan S feels rapid enough to drive without burning a hole through your wallet.
Of course, it lacks the immediate supersonic feeling of the Turbo, but there’s virtually no lag from the turbocharger and it still feels pleasing and refined to drive. You also still get broadly the same level of equipment as the Turbo inside, too.
The Macan S Diesel is very much the same, although with more torquey performance. Able to hit 62mph in 6.3 seconds, and with a whopping 427lb ft of torque on offer, it feels by far like the most sporting of the various diesel-engined compact SUVs on offer at the moment.
Again, the S Diesel feels very refined and quick. It’s also very smooth, with Porsche’s seven-speed PDK gearbox working wonders under the bonnet. Granted, we mostly drove the diesel Macan on smooth German roads, but even so we were left impressed with the dynamic ability of Porsche’s new SUV. Perhaps it’s not quite to the 'sports car' level that Porsche’s marketing material would have you believe, but it’s still very good indeed.
The flagship of the Macan range is undisputedly the Turbo. Its hallmark is again smoothness, accompanied by a potent mid-range delivery and a notable willingness to rev to 6700rpm without running out of breath. Porsche quotes a 0-62mph of 4.6sec and a top speed of 165mph.
There’s some low-end lag from the turbocharger, and despite being billed as the sportiest of the range we wish the V6 engine sounded more potent. Even in Sport Plus mode, it sounds rather uninspired.
On the handling front, the Macan is one of the most fluid and engaging SUVs we’ve driven, delivering a level of dynamic ability and engagement rarely found in cars of this size. There’s plenty of feedback through the wheel, while the steering itself feels well weighted.
Like any other SUV there’s a certain level of body roll through corners, but the Macan’s movements feel well controlled. On the right road, this feels less like a junior Cayenne and more like a high-riding Cayman.
The Porsche's brakes are impressive too, with a progressive and firm pedal feel that allows you to easily judge when the ABS is about to start cycling. We've yet to test the Macan off road but a brief drive in deep snow revealed that the Porsche's four-wheel drive system and optional torque vectoring made for stress-free progress in inclement conditions.
Overall, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the brilliance of the new Macan, because it not only surpasses current class standards but also goes a long way towards redefining them altogether.
You should very quickly expect to see a number of Macans around, too, because Porsche expects it to become its best-selling model. We can safely say it should have no trouble reaching that goal.
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