Porsche Macan review
Porsche Macan is a brilliant off-roader that blends SUV space with sports car pace
Porsche claims the Macan is “the sports car of the SUV segment”, and while it might be a stretch to think of a big off-roader as a sporty, dynamic car, the Macan is the best-driving 4x4 on sale today.
Four-wheel drive means there’s lots of grip on offer, so it’s a strong performer no matter what the conditions, while the standard-fit seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox means it’s a beautifully relaxed car to drive.
It’s expensive to buy, but that badge brings lots of engineering integrity, and although it’s not cheap, the Macan is good value compared to its competitors.
Like the larger Cayenne, the Macan shares technology from sister brand Audi, so this Porsche off-roader is based on the same platform as the Audi Q5. However, it’s not as simple as changing the badges, as the brand’s engineers have thoroughly re-engineered the car so it delivers the performance you’d expect from a Porsche.
You might want to add a few more toys though, as beyond this, the standard equipment spec is best described as fair. And here the Macan gets even more expensive. Air suspension is available, but its pricey. However, with big wheels available on all models, it does improve the ride quality.
There are also extra performance goodies on offer, including adaptive suspension dampers and Porsche Torque Vectoring that helps improve the Macan’s agility even further.
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Options play a big part on SUVs like the Macan, so with Porsche Exclusive personalisation programme, buyers can create a unique car, with paint and interior colours highly customisable.
There are five models to choose from, including the base-spec Macan, Macan S and Macan S Diesels, the driver-focused GTS and the top-spec Turbo. Both S models cost roughly the same, with only a small difference in the price – which is the Macan’s first downside.
Engines, performance and drive
Any concerns that the Audi Q5-based platform which underpins the Porsche Macan would limit Porsche’s ability to work its magic are dispelled the moment you get behind the wheel. Not only does the car have the same wide tyres at the rear as on Porsche sports cars, the suspension, body and steering are all bespoke – and it shows.
The car feels stunningly well engineered and is a delight to drive. Diesel models come with conventional springs and dampers as standard, with the option of upgrading to PASM adaptive dampers. Alternatively, you can specify air-suspension with the PASM system. It sits 15mm lower than cars on steel springs and drops another 10mm when you press the Sport button. It’ll also rise by 40mm when select the off-road mode, so although it might be pricey, this feature broadens the Macan’s ability.
With the Macan having received Porsche’s driver-focused GTS treatment, this is the model for keen drivers. It sits 15mm lower than the Macan S, while the Sport setting for the adaptive dampers has been further tuned for even sharper handling.
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And it’s the Macan’s talent of the Porsche Macan on the road that really blows you away. The beautifully weighted and accurate steering needs the smallest of inputs for an SUV before the car instantly turns in with the sort of precision and poise you just don’t expect in a jacked-up car this size.
Taking everything in its stride, the Macan flows through fast corners with incredible composure – it’s not quite a sports car, but it’s as close to one as any SUV has ever been, thanks to its unrivalled agility at low speeds. It’s simply the most enjoyable, athletic and composed 4x4 we’ve ever driven.
However, the large, optional 21-inch wheels can crash into potholes. And unless you’re taking the Macan off-road, the optional PASM dampers are as effective at filtering out bumps as the pricier air springs.
The 3.0-litre diesel is a real highlight, too, as it’s hushed at idle and silky through the revs. In fact, it’s so smooth you could be fooled into thinking it’s a six-cylinder petrol. The Macan also blasts from 0-60mph in just 5.8 seconds and is actually faster than its Cayman sibling.
The S and GTS use the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, and put out 335bhp and 355bhp respectively. If you want real sprots car rivalling pace though, the 3.6-litre Turbo – with 395bhp on tap and launch control, it’ll sprint off the line and on to 62mph in 4.8 seconds.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Clearly, the most fuel-efficient model in the line-up will be the Porsche Macan Diesel S, which claims economy of up to 46.3mpg. It'll be the cheapest to tax as well, setting you back £180 per year because of its 159g/km emissions figure.
Next up is the Porsche Macan S, which is capable of 32.5mpg, with the Turbo not too far behind on 31.7mpg – the GTS sits in between, returning a claimed best of 32.1mpg. If you do decide to opt for larger alloy wheels (up to 21 inches) then bear in mind that these will push emissions up, as well as road tax, and cut fuel economy.
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Each model is performance-oriented and each will cost well over £40,000 so you're destined to be paying a small 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.
Interior, design and technology
With a clear family resemblance, the Macan is unmistakably a Porsche. It’s arguably the most attractive non-sports car in the line-up, and looks compact and neatly proportioned in a way the bigger Cayenne doesn’t.
The clamshell bonnet, lights inspired by the Porsche Cayman and horizontal blades under the indicators give the nose a sporty look, while the rear is set off by neatly executed, deep-set wraparound tail-lights that have a contoured, 3D effect.
Overall, the Macan has the sporty appearance you’d demand from a Porsche. Inside it’s stunning, with a bank of chrome-trimmed switches running down the transmission tunnel. You also get the same driver-focused cockpit as Porsche’s other models, while all the plastics, leathers and trim materials are first class.
Just like the 911 and Cayman, the Macan feels more like a sports car once you climb inside. The high dashboard and low seat mean the steering wheel juts right out, while Porsche’s familiar five-dial set-up and high centre console surround you. Although it never feels cramped, the layout puts the focus firmly on the driver. This off-roader is practical, but it’s one that begs to be driven as well.
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As you’d expect from Porsche, there’s a huge range of options on offer, but with the recently added GTS, it debuts Porsche’s latest multimedia system carried over from the new 911. Sat-nav and real-time traffic info is now standard, while the screen recognises swipe gestures so you can flick from menu to menu easily.
It’s a much slicker system, however, you’ll still have to pay extra for cruise control and full-leather seats. Standard kit includes eight-way adjustable electric seats, automatic air-conditioning, parking sensors and a DAB radio.
The Porsche Macan 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.
GTS cars get 20-inch alloys and bespoke styling, while LED headlights are standard, helping to improve vision at night and therefore safety.
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.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
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 1,500 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 knee room, 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.
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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 off-road work, taking maximum ground clearance to 230mm. There's a separate button for hill descent control, too, which will take charge of the brakes for you on a slippery descent, keeping the speed between 3 and 18mph and you in control of the car.
If you're planning on towing, then a reversing camera is fitted, which has functions to help hitch up the trailer, while the torquey engines offer lots of pulling power.
Reliability and Safety
Porsche always fares well in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys, and this year it finished sixth. The Macan is loosely based on the Audi Q5, which is a relatively reliable 4x4. The Audi finished 92nd in our Top 200 cars to live with, so with Porsche’s solid dependability, the Macan shouldn’t give you many ownership headaches. If it does, the brand’s dealer network was voted the eighth best in the UK last year, so you should get good service.
The Macan performs well when it comes to safety. It’s the only Porsche on the market to have been crash tested by Euro NCAP, too, and was given a full five-star rating. The car is equipped with ESP and front collision warning sensors as standard. There’s also a rear side airbag option to further improve safety.