Porsche Macan review
Porsche Macan looks to build on success of larger Porsche Cayenne SUV
While the Cayenne is based on the same platform as the Audi Q7, the Porsche Macan shares its underpinnings with the Audi Q5. It's not a simple swap, though, as Porsche has tweaked all the important bits to ensure the Macan has the character that you expect from a Porsche.
Porsche is so confident in the end result it’s achieved with the Macan that it’s promoting the car 'the only sports car in its segment.'
At launch, buyers will be able to pick from a Macan S, a Macan S Diesel and a Macan Turbo. Both the S models cost the same, with the petrol-powered version boasting a 335bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and the diesel getting a 254bhp 3.0-litre V6. At the top of the range sits a 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 with 394bhp in the Turbo model.
Each model provides seriously impressive acceleration and traction, helped by the standard dual-clutch automatic gearbox and rear-biased four-wheel-drive system.
Handling is predictably sharp and the ride noticeably firmer than much of the competition, while buyers are asked to pick between a variety of performance boosting options. Air suspension is available, along with torque vectoring and adaptive dampers.
Our choice: Porsche Macan Diesel S
If you're familiar with the Porsche Cayenne you'll have no trouble recognising the Macan as a member of the Porsche family. It shares the same sporty, low-slung profile and aggressive front-end styling as Porsche's largest SUV but features more compact proportions and narrow, wraparound taillights, which give the Macan a look all of its own.
The Turbo is marked out by a slightly more aggressive design and sits on a set of 19-inch wheels as standard, both the S models get 18-inch wheels, though wheels up to 21-inch diameter are available. Turbo models are also fitted with LED fog lights and daytime running lights, while the S cars get halogen units as standard.
The interior is excellent, featuring a clear design and fantastic build quality. Expensive-feeling metals and leathers are used throughout, while a colour touchscreen in the centre console and another in the instrument binnacle give it a really hi-tech feel.
You can up the luxury even further through the addition of things like the optional Light Comfort package, which features ambient LED lighting throughout the cabin for a really classy, night-time glow.
As well as the three different engine options, buyers can specify the Sport Chrono package, which knocks two-tenths of a second off the 0-62mph time and includes a Sport Plus button to sharpen up responses and coax an even nicer sound from the exhausts. What's more, you can add Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, which can brake an inside wheel to help sharpen up cornering.
Then you'll have to choose your chassis set-up. Macan S and Diesel S models come with standard steel springs, while the Turbo comes as standard with PASM - these adaptive dampers help reduce body roll and are an option on lesser Macans.
On top of that is an air suspension system - an option on all models - which sits 25mm lower than the normal springs for a lower centre of gravity and better handling. There's a raised setting for off-roading too.
Even without all these fancy additions you'll find a basic Macan is still excellent to drive. It's easily the most involving compact SUV on the road, and during our time on track you could see why Porsche is calling this a sports car.
On slippery tarmac if you brake too late in to a bend while turning, you'll feel the back gently kick out, and the same happens if you floor the throttle out of a bend. The steering isn't as heavy as you'll find in a 911 but there's almost as much feel through the rim - you're always acutely aware of what's going on with the balance of the car and underneath the wheels.
All Macans feel incredibly fast and relatively firmly sprung compared to the competition but we'd happily take the Macan on a long motorway journey - it's far from uncomfortable and boasts excellent refinement at high speeds.
The Macan S and Turbo actually feel surprisingly close on performance, and both have a deep, growling exhaust note that perfectly illustrates their sporty character. Even the diesel sounds pretty good.
You'd think that high performance cars could be liable for a few reliability issues - and generally they are. Porsche, however, has an excellent reputation for producing seriously reliable cars.
It's also reassuring to know that many of the infotainment systems have already been tried and tested in the latest Boxster, Cayman and 911 models without any complaints, while the engines have been tested to destruction in labs and run for millions of miles out on the road.
Then, of course, you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing many of the mechanicals for this car have come from the Audi Q5 - a model that has had very few problems during its years on sale.
The Macan hasn't been tested for crash safety by Euro NCAP but it'll almost certainly achieve five stars. Porsche also offers a wide range of assistance systems such as lane change assist and an automatic cruise control system that can warn of a collision and even give a jolt of the brakes if the driver still doesn't take any action.
There are also cameras fitted that can monitor speed limit signs and clever headlights that can illuminate the sidelights at a junction to help improve visibility.
The Macan's boot is large enough to hold 500 litres of luggage while you've got the rear seats up but you can fold them down to free up 1500 litres of space. That means that despite its relatively sporty shape, the Macan is a genuinely spacious car, with room for a family and a large suitcase each.
Boosting its credentials is the fact that each and every Macan comes as standard with an electronically opening tailgate as well as front and rear parking sensors to help avoid any nasty scrapes.
Clearly there's not as much headroom as some of the more traditionally styled SUVs that the Macan is competing with but you'll have no trouble fitting five adults in to the cabin. There's a fair amount of kneeroom, too. Since you've got four-wheel drive as standard, you'll be well-equipped if there's a sudden cold snap or if you need to do a bit of light off-roading.
We tackled some slippery inclines and descents in the Macan, helped by pressing the 'off-road' button. This prepares the throttle response and relevant torque splits to help with off-road driving. Those cars fitted with optional air suspension rise by 40mm for offroad work, taking maximum ground clearance to 230mm. There's a separate button for hill descent control, too, which will take control of the brakes for you on a slippery descent, keeping the speed between 3 and 18mph.
If you're planning on towing, then a reversing camera is fitted, which has functions to help hitch up the trailer.
Clearly, the most fuel-efficient model in the line-up will be the Diesel S, which claims economy of up to 46.3mpg. It'll be the cheapest to tax as well, setting you back £175 per year because of its 159g/km emissions figure.
Next up is the Macan S, which is capable of 32.5mpg, with the Turbo not too far behind on 31.7mpg. If you do decide to opt for larger alloy wheels (up to 21 inches) then bear in mind that these will push emissions up, push road tax up and cut fuel economy.
Each model is performance-oriented and each will cost well over £40,000 so you're destined to be paying a fortune out on insurance as well as fuel and road tax. Still, you have to compare like-for-like and when you look at cars with similar performance and ability to the Macan, it doesn't seem quite so bad.
As with all Porsches, the Macan comes as standard with a three-year 60,000-mile warranty.