Porsche Macan 2014 on the road

We take a high-speed ride in the Porsche Macan and experience all three engines, on and off-road

“Some of the journalists have said it’s pointless driving you around like this,” our test driver tells us as he flicks the Porsche Macan sideways over a crest and holds another precision drift around a long left-hander. “But I say this is exactly how it has to be driven, it’s a Porsche after all.”

Anyone scared that Porsche had sold its soul to the devil by building a second SUV needn’t worry. From where we’re sitting this is the sportiest SUV money can buy – an entirely different proposition to the Audi Q5 it shares its platform with - and we’re bursting to have a go ourselves before it reaches UK showrooms in April 2014.

That will have to wait until mid-February, but to whet our appetites until then Porsche has laid on passenger rides in all three versions - the Macan Turbo, Macan S and Macan S Diesel - along with access to the men and women responsible for the Macan’s development.

Only a third of the components are carried over from the Q5 untouched – the other two-thirds are either entirely new or repurposed for the Macan, all with the intention of sharpening up the drive.

The electromechanical steering, for example, is ten per cent quicker, while the four-wheel drive system is heavily rear-biased, sending 80 per cent of the torque to the rear axle in steady-state driving, although it can send up to 100 per cent to the front if the grip conditions require it.

Mixed tyre sizes (wider at the rear than the front), bigger brakes with six-piston calipers (carbon-ceramic discs are optional) and air suspension are all unique to the Macan.

A rear axle differential lock and a torque vectoring system known as PTV Plus are optional, but essential if you’re a fan of power oversteer, while the seven-speed PDK gearbox can swap cogs in under 100ms.

Porsche Macan price, news and video

Three separate suspension setups can be ordered – steel springs with fixed rate dampers, steel springs with PASM adaptive dampers and air suspension with PASM. The latter let’s you raise the suspension by 40mm in off-road mode, and lower it by 40mm via a button in the boot to make loading that little bit easier.

We rode shotgun for four hot laps in each of the three launch models: the £43,300 Macan S with its 335bhp 3.0 V6 bi-turbo, the Macan S Diesel with its 254bhp 3.0 V6 turbodiesel and the range-topping Macan Turbo packing a 394bhp 3.6 V6 bi-turbo.

You sit low, cocooned by a Panamera-inspired centre console, while the quality is every bit as good as the Cayenne. We particularly like the new 918 Spyder steering wheel – the first sign of that car’s development costs trickling down to the rest of the range.

The two petrol models were fitted with air suspension, a rear differential and PTV Plus, while the diesel was on steel springs with PASM adaptive dampers. What’s immediately apparent in both the petrol models is how neutral the handling is.

Even with wild entry speeds it refuses to understeer and is happy to tighten its line with a lift of the accelerator, or in the case of the Turbo, a bootfull of throttle. If you do get over exuberant though, the tail steps out slowly and predictably.

Porsche Macan 2014 drifting

Physics dictate the Macan can’t stay perfectly flat in the bends, but it always feels absolutely planted. Without the rear-axle handling aids the diesel needs a little more coaxing to slide around, but trail braking into a corner does precisely that, and feels just as much fun.

We’ll have to wait to deliver our verdict on the ride quality and refinement – a smooth test-track is no match for UK roads - but the acceleration feels as vivid as the numbers suggest. With Sport Plus mode engaged (which opens up the exhaust baffles) the Turbo flies forward with a snort from its exhausts and burbles on the overrun – in fact, 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds seems a little conservative to us.

The Macan S tones things down slightly but still rips through the gears, while the diesel is far more muted. But with 580Nm of torque and a 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds, it’s still a genuinely quick car – and one capable of returning 46.3mpg.

We were also treated to a brief off-road demonstration, and while the Macan isn’t likely to see much rough stuff it’s more capable than you might think.

Pushing a button marked off-road raises the body by 40mm (if you specify air suspension) and adjusts the gearbox, throttle response and ESP accordingly. It’s enough to climb steep slopes and negotiate rutted paths with ease, while a hill descent mode will help you get down safely on the other side.

There was a worry that with the sensible Audi Q5 as a starting point, the Macan would lack dynamic sparkle, but the engineers have done a wonderful job infusing it with Porsche DNA. Porsche plans to build 50,000 cars a year at its plant in Leipzig Germany – we’d be hatching plans to make a few more.

  
Porsche Macan Turbo 
Price£59,300
Engine3.6-litre V6 bi-turbo
TransmissionSeven-speed PDK twin-clutch auto, four-wheel drive
Power/Torque394bhp/550Nm
0-62mph4.6 seconds
Top speed165mph
Economy31.7mpg
CO2208g/km
  
Porsche Macan S Diesel 
Price£43,300
Engine3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
TransmissionSeven-speed PDK twin-clutch auto, four-wheel drive
Power/Torque254bhp/580Nm
0-62mph6.1 seconds
Top speed143mph
Economy46.3mpg
CO2159g/km
  
Porsche Macan S 
Price£43,300
Engine3.0-litre V6 bi-turbo
TransmissionSeven-speed PDK twin-clutch auto, four-wheel drive
Power/torque335bhp/460Nm
0-62mph5.2 seconds
Top speed158mph
Economy32.5mpg
CO2204g/km

Recommended

Cupra Formentor vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio vs Porsche Macan
Cupra Formentor vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio vs Porsche Macan
Porsche Macan SUV

Cupra Formentor vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio vs Porsche Macan

Can the new Cupra Formentor stack up to the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Porsche Macan in this sporty SUV battle?
17 Apr 2021
New Porsche Macan GTS 2020 review
Porsche Macan GTS - front
Porsche Macan SUV

New Porsche Macan GTS 2020 review

The new Porsche Macan GTS has impressed us overseas - now it's time to test it out on UK roads
8 Dec 2020
Porsche Macan review
Porsche Macan - front tracking
Porsche Macan

Porsche Macan review

The Porsche Macan delivers SUV practicality in a package that stays true to Porsche's performance car heritage
2 Nov 2020

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e
Fiat 500 vs Honda e vs MINI Electric
Car group tests

Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e

The new Fiat 500, MINI Electric and Honda e are three retro-inspired electric superminis - but which is best?
19 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now
Hyundai Tuscon N Line - front
Hyundai Tucson

New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now

Hyundai names price for new Tucson N-Line hybrid duo with plug-in offering 38 miles of electric running
18 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021