In-depth reviews

Porsche Macan review

The Porsche Macan has many premium SUV rivals, but none can match it for driver appeal

Porsche claims that the Macan is “the sports car of the SUV segment”; it’s not exactly an out-and-out sports car, but the Macan certainly is the best-driving SUV on sale today.

Four-wheel drive means there’s lots of grip on offer, so it’s a strong performer regardless of road conditions, while the standard-fit seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox means the Macan is a beautifully relaxed car to drive.

The Macan isn’t quite as large and practical as some rivals, but on the road it’s fast and a lot more fun to drive. Opt for adaptive dampers and the Porsche will offer plenty of comfort, while it has a high-quality feel and offers an exclusive, upmarket image.

About the Porsche Macan

After the runaway success of the larger Cayenne, which many pundits reckon is the car that saved Porsche from financial ruin, it was pretty clear the German sportscar firm couldn’t afford not to extend its presence in the SUV sector.

More than a million Cayennes have left the Porsche factory gates since its launch in 1996, but its baby brother the Macan could reach that milestone even faster. The Macan entered production in 2014, and 350,000 had been sold by 2018 when the car was facelifted for the first time. It’s due for another mild refresh in 2021, and although there’s a brand new electric Macan in the works next year, Porsche has confirmed this existing model will be sold alongside the new Macan EV for as long as enough people want to buy it. 

And want to buy it they do, for the simple reason that the Macan is still the best handling and most fun to drive SUV available, which is a pretty remarkable feat after seven years in production. It also benefits from the halo effect of one of the most highly-regarded performance car badges of all time on its nose, notwithstanding the fact that many of Porsche’s more puritanical sports car fans still roll their eyes at the mere idea of a Porsche SUV. Most of the rest of the world has got over that philosophical hurdle, as the sales figures attest.

The Macan swims in a very talented pool, and rivals the Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Evoque, BMW X3, Audi Q5Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Mercedes GLC. Nowadays there’s even a rival from the Spanish arm of the VW Group, in the shape of the Cupra (nee SEAT) Formentor, which as our Auto Express triple test against the Macan and Alfa Stelvio proved, is able to run the Macan pretty close in many respects.

Where the Macan excels is with its driving dynamics. It focuses on sporty handling, but it can still perform as a comfortable family car when necessary. It doesn't quite have as much space as its rivals, but that's a price many owners are willing to pay so that they are at the wheel of the best-handling SUV on sale.

The 2018 update initially saw the range pared back to standard and S models, but a Turbo version arrived soon after, and now there’s a more driver-focused GTS variant also included in the line-up.

One significant change is the removal of the Macan S Diesel. Porsche no longer builds diesel versions of its cars; instead there is likely to be a hybrid version of the Macan launched in the future.

Updates for the revised Macan include a new tailgate that features a light strip joining the tail-lights – similar to the 911 and latest Panamera - and that's about it for exterior styling updates. The big changes have taken place under the skin, where Porsche engineers have adjusted and updated the running gear to deliver a more focused and efficient driving experience.

The standard Macan is now powered by a 242bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that delivers similar power to the old Macan, but is also more efficient. The Macan S still gets a V6 engine which is 3.0-litres in size and packs 349bhp. Both cars have a seven-speed PDK auto gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard.

The GTS version doesn’t have as much power or torque as the Turbo, but it rides 15mm lower than any other Macan, Turbo included, while visually it’s by far the most extrovert model in the range. The twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 produces 375bhp and 520Nm, which is enough to send the GTS to 62mph in 4.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 162mph.

The quickest model in the range is the Macan Turbo, powered by the same V6 as the S albeit with 434bhp and 550Nm of torque – 0-62mph takes as little as 4.3 seconds with the optional Sports Chrono pack.

Whichever Macan you choose, you're ensured an enjoyable driving experience – yet the Macan is a pretty efficient SUV, too.

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