Has there ever been a more sporting or versatile SUV than the Porsche Macan? If so, I’ve yet to drive it. And the fact that the Macan’s all-terrain ability is as good as it is – as I discovered on the reasonably gruelling off-road course at Longcross Proving Ground near Woking in Surrey recently – well, this is arguably the most impressive thing of all about this most impressive of vehicles.
You naturally expect a Porsche to steer sweetly, to handle incisively and to go fast in a straight line. And the Macan does all these things and more, even though our car has a torquey but not exactly rev-happy 3.0-litre V6 diesel. But the fact that the car can also do things and go places off the beaten track that your average saloon driver couldn’t hope to is, for me, the most intriguing thing of all.
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Of course, few Macan owners would dream of subjecting their shiny Porsche to sliding approach and departure angles. They probably don’t even know there’s an ‘off road’ button on the centre console, next to the heated seats switch. But the fact is, if you do take it off-road, the Macan will do pretty much whatever you ask it to, and go just about wherever you wish. As I discovered recently in Surrey.
And yet at the same time this car is delightful to drive and live with on the road. On long journeys I continue to be amazed by how refined and civilised it is, just to be in for mile after mile. Its cabin still looks and feels a million dollars. The build quality and sense of robustness inside remain unparalleled at this price. And there’s not a hint of a squeak or rattle from anywhere, even though it’s over a year and 10,000 miles old now.
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Plus, when the roads get narrower and twistier, as they did on another recent trip to north Wales, the Macan has a proper flip side to its personality. Press the Sport or Sport + buttons (depending on how hard you want to push) and it transforms itself into a crisp handling, sharp driver’s car, with fantastic body control, incisive steering, huge grip and a major hit of cross country pace. In the right settings, this is pretty much a sports car, and that’s some range of abilities to contain under just one roof.
Any dislikes after 10,850 miles? One or two, yes. The dual-clutch gearbox works well when pressing on, but under light throttle, it’s not the smoothest. The rear seats could be roomier, too. What really cheeses me off, though, is the poor visibility to the left when pulling out of T-junctions to the right – due to the bulky passenger seat. Sometimes I have to unbuckle my seatbelt to shimmy forwards and make sure nothing is coming.
Otherwise, I remain convinced that the Macan is the best smallish premium SUV money can buy, and by quite a big margin.
Stunning SUV gets lots of attention... from the wrong crowd
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I had a weird feeling that something wasn’t quite right with our Porsche Macan S Diesel the other Saturday morning, even though it was parked in the street outside my house, minding its own business. And sure enough, when I looked outside, I saw two people photographing it in the most suspicious of ways.
They were systematically taking pictures of it from every angle on their phones, but not in a “let’s snap our favourite car” kind of way. Instead, they were rushing around it with a strange, frantic form of intent. And then they both jogged up the road a bit, climbed into a black Vauxhall and scarpered.
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Both ne’er-do-wells were sporting the obligatory crew cut, jeans and white trainers. And it suddenly occurred to me that they’d just taken a load of pictures of our Macan in order to work out whether or not they wanted to come back later that night and pinch it.
The photos, I assumed, would probably be shown to someone higher up, who would then decide whether to steal the car to order, having found a buyer in a distant land.
The Porsche has a Thatcham category 1 alarm and an immobiliser, plus a tracking device. However, even they don’t bring the peace of mind they should, as thieves are more likely to break into your house for the keys than hotwire your car these days.
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So I then thought there may be CCTV cameras on our street, and went about finding out from the local constabulary, which happens to have an office at the end of my road. No CCTV, the officer we spoke to said, but they thanked me for informing them of the incident, as there’s been a spate of high-end SUV thefts in the area recently.
They told me that the best thing to do is park the Porsche in a locked garage (which I don't have), don’t leave it in the same place overnight and keep a heightened ear out for the alarm at all times. After that, they simply wished me good luck.
Since then, I’ve been parking the Macan in all sorts of freestyle spaces within our resident permit area and it remains in my clutches. This is good, but it probably says more about my natural sense of paranoia than I should admit to in a report like this.
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In all other ways, I’m loving the Porsche to bits. Sure, 33.4mpg economy isn’t much to write home about, but given the car’s size and performance potential, it’s actually not that bad. And, of course, it drives beautifully and looks so nice that you’d, well, want to steal it. Plus, it’s more practical in everyday use than any car I’ve ever run from our fleet.
So, despite the unwanted attention, it’s pretty much the perfect vehicle in my view – so long as it’s not on its way to Albania.
Approved used example of thrilling SUV joins our fleet
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How much do you think a one year-old Sapphire Blue Porsche Macan S Diesel costs with just over 6,000 miles on the clock? Answer: exactly the same as a brand new version. No, it’s true. In nearly a year and after 6,000 miles, our new yet second-hand Macan S Diesel has, according to Porsche’s Approved Used scheme values, lost not a single penny in depreciation.
That’s extraordinary, not least because the Macan is a regular production Porsche that’s being churned out at the rate of 50,000 units per year from its factory in Leipzig, Germany. But it shows just how successful and desirable the stylish compact SUV is turning out to be.
It seems buyers can’t get enough of Porsche’s new baby Cayenne, and it’s not exactly hard to see why. It’s undoubtedly better looking than its big brother from pretty much every angle on the outside, yet not a great deal smaller on the inside. In fact, the Macan seems freakishly good at just about everything it does.
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This 12-month-old version was extremely well specified by its original owner, with just over an eye-watering £14,000 worth of options hiking the price from £44,636 (£46,177 now) in standard trim to £58,861 as tested. And that’s precisely how much the trader still reckons our car is worth today.
The options fitted are the ones you’d go for if you had a big enough budget. They include Agate Grey-Pebble two-tone leather for £2,453, air-suspension with self-levelling ride height (£1,788) and bi-xenon headlamps with Porsche Dynamic Lighting (£1,060). Plus, there’s the brand’s full comms pack including sat-nav and Jukebox (£2,007) and 20-inch Spyder Design alloys (£1,700). While our Macan is second-hand according to the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA), it feels, looks and even smells brand new. The only things giving its age away are the numbers within the odometer and the fact it isn’t fitted with Porsche’s latest infotainment system; there isn’t a mark on its sumptuous grey leather interior trim. The steering wheel, which it shares with the 918 Spyder, also still feels fresh out the box.
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On the outside of the car, however, there is a slight blemish – a tiny stone dent on the bonnet. But this is the only proof I can find that someone has actually used the Porsche at all over the past 12 months.
And on the move, it’s every inch as good as I remember the original versions feeling when I first drove them. The air-suspension provides a smooth yet sporty ride quality, with excellent body control. The steering is meaty, although it’s still precise, while the performance from the 255bhp V6 twin-turbodiesel engine and standard seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is effortlessly strong – the car sprints from 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds. So far it’s averaged 38.9mpg over the first 900 miles, too.
And although the Macan’s pert rear end suggests that practicality isn’t the best, the boot is big and very useful every day. even so, there’s not even a skinny spare wheel fitted beneath the floor, which means I’ll need to buy a tin of get-you-home spray, just in case. But the amount of space back there is better than expected, even if there’s not an awful lot of legroom for a tall adult behind the driver.