Porsche Macan Diesel S 2014 review

13 May, 2014 5:30pm Jack Rix

Porsche Macan Diesel S combines SUV styling and practicality with the dynamics of a Porsche sports car

Verdict

5
When it comes to agility and fun from behind the wheel, the Porsche Macan Diesel leaves its rivals standing - the big surprise is that it doesn't come with any major compromises. Order the air suspension and it floats along serenely, or can be tightened up to tackle corners with remarkable poise. With so much torque this diesel model is seriously quick too, costs just a few hundred pounds more than the equivalent BMW X3 xDrive 30d M Sport and is quiet and economical to boot.

Whether Porsche is still a sports car manufacturer that makes SUVs and saloons on the side, or the other way around, is open to debate. One thing's for sure though, the arrival of the Macan on UK roads won't make things any clearer. Porsche's second, smaller SUV has been designed to combine a compact SUV bodystyle with driving DNA from the 911, Boxster and Cayman, and catch the wave of soaring SUV sales. 

At the moment the Porsche Macan Diesel is only available with one engine, the 3.0-litre V6 unit. With 254bhp it's certainly not lacking in pace, but will also manage 46.3mpg and emits just 159g/km of CO2. With a price of just over £43,000 it's likely to be the top-selling model in the range - ahead of models like the Porsche Macan Turbo.

At first glance it's another understated piece of design from Porsche, although the basic outline is much closer to a coupe than the Audi Q5 - the car it shares its basic architecture with. On closer inspection details like the clamshell bonnet, quad exhausts, 'C-Blades' in the front air intakes and rubbing strips are all beautifully executed, giving a sense of quality before you've even opened the door. 

The interior is typical Porsche - strewn with buttons, but built to impossibly high standards with chunky metal trim and switchgear that operates with a satisfying clunk. You sit low, gently hugged by the sports seats and facing a stunning 918 Spyder-inspired steering wheel - if it wasn't for the raised view of the road ahead, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a Cayman. 

Porsche Macan Diesel rear action

Slot the flawlessly-smooth seven-speed PDK (fitted as standard) into drive and pull away, and it's the Macan's refinement, not its sportiness that shines through first. We drove the Macan S Diesel - expected to account for 60 per cent of UK sales (with the 335bhp Macan S and 394bhp Macan Turbo making up 20 per cent each) - and the 254bhp V6 engine hums away so quietly under the bonnet and revs so sweetly that for the first few minutes we kept bouncing of the limiter, momentarily forgetting we were driving a diesel at all. 

A lack of wind, tyre and engine noise, even at 70mph, makes the Macan a superb long-distance cruiser, but there's another side to its character just waiting to burst out. A colossal 580Nm of torque is available between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm, which means planting your right foot and short-shifting through the gears sends you surging down the road at pace that doesn't seem proportional to the serenity in the cabin.

Things don't fall apart when you reach a corner either - a twist of the perfectly-weighted electromechanical steering and the Macan's nose tucks in immediately with just a hint of bodyroll, but beautiful balance, allowing you to get back on the power early and let the four-wheel drive system dig in and hold you on your chosen line. It's confidence inspiring stuff and given a track to play on you'll soon be turning off the ESP altogether and exploring the Macan's unnatural ability to pull big controllable drifts.

Porsche Macan Diesel interior

Of course, this being a Porsche, there's a whole host of chassis options to wade through. Both the Macan S and Macan S Diesel come with steel springs and passive dampers as standard, while PASM adaptive dampers are optional. Alternatively you can go the whole hog and order air suspension with PASM as fitted to our test car. At £1,789 it's not cheap, but given the options it opens up we think it's well worth it.

By keeping the body at the same level in all situations it floats over crests and through dips, and in comfort mode smooths out smaller imperfections in the road surface. It sits 15mm lower to the ground than steel springs in normal mode and can drop a further 10mm when you hit the Sport button - lowering the centre of gravity so you can attack corners with even more vigour. In off-road mode it also raises the suspension by 40mm to help you clear rocks and ridges, while the rear can be lowered by 50mm to make loading the boot that little bit easier. 

And that's what makes the Macan so special. While it undoubtedly it shares the 911's appetite for speed, Porsche has managed to create an excellent family car that's quiet and refined when you need it to be, spacious in the back despite the sloping roofline and has a 500-litre boot that grows to 1,500-litres with the rear seats down. In other words a sports car without compromise. 

Disqus - noscript

POS! Buy a Range Rover Joque! India begs you!

You've never had a friend have you?

would any self-respecting hairdresser be seen dead in this? i rest my case.

Looks amazing. I wonder if Porsche could ever squeeze in the 4.2 TDi?

totally idiot...

Evoque killer.

Evoque starts at £29K. This is £43K so this addressing a different market than the Evoque.

Only, no-one actually buys a poverty spec Evoque. Almost every car you see will be an optioned-to-the-hilt Dynamic SD4 Automatic, which starts at £40k.

No the lower spec ones do sell, they drop down into reahcable company car bands and the PCPs allow some to get them within their opt out allowance. They sell pretty damn well in fact.

And when you start adding options on the Porsche it goes north of £50 very quickly.

I think we'll just agree to disagree on this one... my perspective is that this car is without doubt going to steal sales from the higher spec Evoques, of which there are many around. Remember that it is with the higher spec models that LR makes most of its profit.

Which has twice the spec of the Macan. Now spec the Macan up to the same level. Two very different class of car. The only rival from JLR for this is the upcoming Jag SUV

The only things a Macan Diesel S is missing to be up to Dynamic Evoque Level are Cruise Control/PASM/Sat Nav. Even with these added it's considerably less than the Evoque Autobiography crumpet truck. Worth it on the basis of the far superior drivetrain alone.

Well that's stating obvious. But it ain't going to kill it.

Perhaps not. But anyone buying a high-spec Evoque now does so on snob-value alone.

Key specs

  • Price: £43,300
  • Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
  • Power: 254bhp
  • Transmission: Seven-speed PDK, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 6.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 142mph
  • Economy/CO2: 46.3mpg/159g/km
  • Equipment: Electric tailgate, stop-start, electric front seats, seven-inch touch screen, multi-function steering wheel
  • On sale: Now
AEX 1,341
For more breaking car news and reviews, subscribe to Auto Express - available as a weekly magazine and on your iPad. We'll give you 6 issues for £1 and a free gift!

Sponsored Links