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Porsche Macan review (2014 onwards)
Porsche Macan: prices and summary
We like: compact dimensions, classy interior, great fun on the road
We don’t like: space inside is modest, very high prices, petrol S model overshadowed by diesel
Porsche Macan: first impressions
You’ve known for years it was coming. Porsche’s financial success these days is not driven by its iconic sports cars, but rather from practical, even family-oriented machines. Not that the brilliant 911 and Boxster don’t form the platform that tempts buyers into the four-door Porsches. It’s just the business case for another four-wheel drive SUV below the Cayenne is unarguable.
The Macan's acceleration to 62mph of 4.6 seconds is equal to that of even relatively recent 911s
And so the Macan – pronounced Macahn. The Audi Q5 is its progenitor, but most parts are changed or new. With a sloping roof and tailgate it looks more compact than the Audi. That roofline, which Porsche calls the “flyline”, mimics that of the 911, as do the rear haunches.
The rear lights and steering wheel are copies of those in the forthcoming 918 supercar. The bonnet is simply enormous, wrapped around the sides and over the headlights.
Porsche tells us the Macan is a sports car. Tells us not just once, but many, many times. That seems somewhat improbable, considering its comparatively high, five-door body. We’ll take some convincing.
Porsche Macan: technical details and performance
The two petrol engines are all new. Both V6, the 3.0-litre S produces 340hp, the 3.6-litre Macan Turbo 400hp. Both have two turbochargers to provide a strong boost in the lower rev ranges, but even the Turbo can’t quite match the torque figures of the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel that you’ll be familiar with from the Cayenne.
Every Macan is coupled to a seven-speed double-clutch automatic transmission with paddles behind the wheel. There’s a Sport setting too, though the test cars had the optional Porsche Sports Chrono Pack that, through some electronic wizardry, knocks a couple of tenths off the 0-62mph time and offer enhancements to the suspension and gearchange.
The Macan Turbo is quick: very quick - its acceleration to 62mph of 4.6 seconds isn't far off that of even relatively recent 911s. It’s easy to achieve too - just floor the throttle and hang on. The turbos help the punch out of corners too, making it easy to achieve high average speeds in this model.
Switch to Sport Plus and there’s a great crackle from the exhaust on changes. Manual control of the gears is a pleasure, but the PDK transmission does a very fine job if you can’t be bothered.
In contrast the petrol Macan S feels notably less involving and consequently less exciting. The Macan is heavy, not far short of 2,000kg when fitted with the inevitable options, and heavier than the equivalent Audi Q5. Which means that although the petrol S can be stirred along at a fair old rate, it doesn’t stand up so well against the other two models.
A diesel Porsche better than a petrol version? Surely not? I am afraid so. The Macan S Diesel is the surprise of the pack, smooth, quiet and oh-so-punchy. Much of the time you need to do little more than tickle the throttle to make progress. But when you need a burst of power for overtaking, this Macan simply rushes forwards at your bidding. It’s very impressive.
Porsche Macan: ride and handling
Only Porsche would make it this complicated. The Macan S comes with steel springs as the basis for its suspension. The Macan Turbo has steel springs plus PASM – dampers that reduce body movement and let you set the ride to ‘Comfort’, Sport’ or ‘Sport Plus’.
There is something of a wow factor about the Macan from the front seats
Then there is air suspension that offers an even better ride as well as the opportunity to raise the Macan should you ever take it off road, perish the thought. You can specify this on any Macan. Torque Vectoring is yet a further layer that uses the brakes to enhance agility in corners.
Stick all these on the Macan and you have a car that really does drive like a sports car. Set the driver’s seat to the lowest position, drop the steering wheel down so you can see those three dials, still with the tachometer slap bang in the middle, and you’re in for a surprise.
We tracked behind a 911 S around Porsche’s test track in Leipzig, a circuit with corners that replicate famous curves like the Bus Stop chicane at Spa and the notorious Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. Improbably, the Macan handles the bends with absolute assurance, with body roll extremely well controlled and confidence-inspiring steering.
The Turbo was best here, the wider tyres working their way around the eventual understeer that the Macan S succumbs too much earlier in the game. For road use, however, there’s less to choose between the two and much to like about both. The brakes, naturally, are superb.
Porsche Macan: interior
There is something of a wow factor about the Macan from the front seats, particularly if you measure a car by its button count. Including the gearlever and handbrake, but not radio controls, the swooping centre console contains 36 switches if you specify all the options.
It sounds like madness but in some ways it is the antithesis of the current trend to burrow controls within the sat-nav screen where you have to navigate though myriad layers to perform a simple function. It actually works.
The seats are very comfortable, though again the test cars were fitted with high-level options. Look carefully at the basic S specification and you’ll find that two essentials that you will almost certainly want – leather and satellite navigation – are extras even at £43,300.
But this seems like a pleasant place to travel if you want to cover long distances, generally quiet, effective air conditioning, a good ride. Space in the rear seats is fair though not generous. Luggage space is what you’d expect. The tailgate is powered.
Porsche Macan: economy and safety
Euro NCAP doesn’t crash test Porsches so there’s no independent safety assessment of the Macan. But it does come with a solid structure based on a proven five-star Audi, and plenty of airbags.
The Macan drives like no other 4x4 we’ve experienced, and with the right package it is massively entertaining
Porsche will also argue that the Macan’s agility will mean accident avoidance in the first place will be favourable. It is unfortunate, then, that many of the really clever safety features are on the options list so you’ll have to pay extra to be safer.
The economy figures for the Macan S Diesel average 46.3mpg, with CO2 down to 150g/km. These are very impressive results, in the same ballpark as many family 2.0-litre diesel crossovers.
As for the petrols, the Macan S claims 32.5mpg with 204g/km CO2, the Turbo 31.7mpg and 216g/km CO2.
Porsche Macan: the verdict
So is the Macan a sports car? Of course it isn’t. But it drives like no other 4x4 we’ve experienced, and with the right package it is massively entertaining. Both fast and immensely agile, it also offers a very liveable nature for more relaxed road driving.
Being less cumbersome that the Porsche Cayenne makes the Macan very well suited to British road conditions. It deserves the full five stars. Except that a nicely specified Macan S – petrol or diesel – will cost, we reckon, uncomfortably close to £55,000. If you thought the Range Rover Evoque was expensive, the Macan sets a new benchmark.
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