Porsche Macan Diesel S 2014 review

12 Feb, 2014 2:45pm Luke Madden

Porsche Macan Diesel S is said to be the first SUV sports car - but can it live up to that label?

Verdict

5
The Porsche Macan Diesel is now the go-to choice for enthusiasts in this class but it doesn't come at the expense of comfort, luxury, refinement or even off-road ability. As with the Cayenne and the Panamera, Porsche has taken a car that shouldn't work as a sports car and turned it in to something that's genuinely fun and impressively capable on track. It obviously isn't your expedition vehicle of choice but the Macan sets new standards in this class, and it's easy to see why Porsche envisions this as its future best-seller.

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.

Porsche Macan Turbo 2014 review

Porsche is so confident in what it's managed to achieve with the Macan that it's calling it the first compact SUV that's also a sports car. It's a bold claim, and one that the Diesel S model we're testing should be least equipped to showcase, but has Porsche pulled it off?

The driving position has all the hallmarks of a sports car. There's a slight step up in to the cabin, before you take your seat cocooned within the interior. You get a nice view of the road ahead but Porsche has clearly worked hard on recreating the low-slung feeling of a 911. There's plenty of adjustability to the seats and Porsche 918-inspired steering wheel so you can get your driving position spot on before heading off.

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Porsche Macan Diesel engine

Once you fire up the 3.0-litre V6 diesel you'll find it quickly settles down to an audible, but far from unpleasant idle. It doesn't have the immediacy of either of the petrol engines but it manages to sound sporty and has plenty of punch in the middle of the rev range. The PDK gearbox shuffles seamlessly through its seven gears, while pressing the Sport Plus button fires each full-throttle upshift home with an aggressive thump.

Take things more sedately and the diesel will return some pretty reasonable economy figures. During normal driving we were seeing 35mpg, which is impressive given the performance on offer and the standard four-wheel drive set-up.

That has its benefits for track driving, where you'll find there's plenty of traction for launching out of bends. There's still a rear bias to the system, though, so the tail will slide if you're too heavy on the accelerator. In terms of getting as close to a sports car driving experience as possible the Macan is unmatched in this class. For the ultimate in handling you'll want to specify the PTV torque vectoring system and PASM active suspension - it's standard on the flagship Turbo model.

Turn off the Sport Plus button and hit the off-road button and the Macan becomes a fairly capable off-roader. We tackled 80 per cent inclines, muddy bogs and steep, slippery descents easily. It's far from Range Rover Sport territory but if mud-plugging is high on your agenda you can fit air suspension which allows you to raise the suspension by 40mm, improving the approach angle from 17 degrees to 19 degrees in the process.

Porsche Macan Diesel practicality

As well as track car and off-roader, the Macan works as a long-distance family car. A large 500-litre boot - with an electronic tailgate fitted as standard - provides plenty of room for large suitcases, while the rear seats are good enough for tall adults, despite the sweeping roofline. The ride is firmer than anything you'll find on rivals but it provides a smooth ride, that only gets smoother if you specify the PASM adaptive dampers and switch them to Comfort. Air suspension improves things further, while also allowing you to lower the ride height by up to 25mm for a lower centre of gravity.

Porsche has perfectly managed to transfer its sports car DNA to the compact SUV class without compromising its everyday ability. This basic Diesel S model will be a popular choice in the UK simply because it does make so much sense as a daily driver - but it's nice for owners to know that if they need to take it on track, or off-road the Macan can handle that, too.

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Key specs

  • Price: £43,300
  • Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
  • Power: 254bhp
  • Transmission: Seven-speed PDK, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 6.1 seconds (with Sport Chrono pack)
  • Top speed: 143mph
  • Economy/CO2: 46.3mpg/159g/km
  • Equipment: 18-inch alloys, electronic bootlid, front and rear parking sensors, part-leather upholstery
  • On sale: Now

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