Porsche Macan review
Porsche Macan looks to build on success of larger Porsche Cayenne SUV
Described by Porsche as “the sports car of the SUV segment”, the Porsche Macan arrives with a heavy weight of expectation
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 sporty character you'd expect from a Porsche.
In fact, 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, Porsche Macan 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 seven-speed PDK 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, unless you go for the excellent optional air suspension, while buyers are asked to pick between a variety of performance boosting options such as torque vectoring and adaptive dampers.
Our choice: Porsche Macan Diesel S
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.
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 top drawer.
The driving position is fantastic, too. The hip point of the seat and the position of the wheel means you feel like you’re cocooned in a Porsche sports car. Yet the raised view of the road, slender A-pillars and large screen mean all-round visibility is excellent.
As you’d expect from Porsche, there’s a huge range of options on offer, and you’ll need to spend extra to get navigation, cruise control and full-leather seats. Still, standard kit includes eight-way 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.
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.
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 set-up as on Porsche sports cars, the suspension, body and steering are all bespoke – and it shows.
The Porsche Macan 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 PASM for around £2,000. 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.
However, it’s the ability of the Porsche Macan on the road that really blows you away. The beautifully weighted and accurate steering needs the smallest of inputs before the car instantly turns in with the sort of precision and poise you just don’t expect in an SUV.
Taking everything in its stride, the Macan flows through fast corners like a sports car, and has unrivalled agility at low speeds. It’s simply the most enjoyable, athletic and composed SUV 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.
The Macan spent a long time in development, and its basic architecture is shared with the Audi Q5, so these two factors should point to it being reliable. On top of that, the V6 diesel is used in the Cayenne and Panamera, while the electronics and infotainment systems are shared with other Porsche models, so everything should work without a problem.
The Macan hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, but the Q5 has a five-star rating, and Porsche offers extra safety kit such as adaptive xenons, lane assist and even a fire extinguisher on its options list. Fade-free carbon ceramic brakes will be available from October 2014, although they’ll cost a rather steep £5,463.
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 Porsche Macan 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 Porsche 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.