Skip advert
Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Porsche Macan - Engines, performance and drive

The S and GTS’s twin-turbo V6 is an excellent powertrain, but the turbo-fours in the base and T models just aren’t potent enough

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£55,805 to £74,105
Find your Porsche Macan
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

It’s worth remembering that like Porsche’s other SUV, the Cayenne, the Macan isn’t a bespoke model like its sports cars. Instead, the Macan actually sits on a platform borrowed from the previous-generation Audi Q5. Yet despite this less-than-idea start point, Porsche did a comprehensive job of re-engineering the elements it had to work with, giving the Macan a distinctive feel peppered with plenty of Porsche-like traits in its steering, handling and chassis balance. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

All of its basic dimensions and suspension components are bespoke to the Porsche, with a wider track, longer wheelbase and lower roof height all giving the Macan an almost coupe-like stance on the road. As well as looking different, it also helps the Macan feel exceptionally stable at speed, underpinned by impressive body control and very high grip levels on account of its wide tyres. 

It’s equally as impressive at slower speeds in and around town, where you notice the smoothness of the dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It doesn’t fuss or lurch as you move away from a standstill which means it’s more usable and relaxing to drive than some rivals. 

Conventional steel coil springs and passive dampers are standard on the base Macan, with T and S models upgrading to three-way PASM adjustable dampers. Like many Porsches, the Macan’s ride quality is always firm, but rarely deteriorates into being brittle or uncomfortable. Its main priority is to keep the body under complete control, something it does with great success despite weighing between 1,845kg and 1,930kg, depending on the engine. Models fitted on PASM dampers widen the suspension’s bandwidth without going too far in either direction.   

Top-spec GTS models swap this arrangement out for an air-spring setup, again fitted with corresponding adjustable dampers. The GTS has the most dynamically focused setup, sitting 15mm lower than cars on steel springs, dropping another 10mm when you press the Sport button. It’ll also rise by 40mm when you select the off-road mode. Unfortunately, despite the extra variability, the air-springs themselves take away a certain level of connection from the road, and in combination with the GTS’s standard 21-inch wheels can be a little too stiff in Sports mode. 

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Of course, the different suspension systems are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Macan’s chassis, with high-spec inclusions like a torque-vectoring rear differential (PTV Plus), Power Steering Plus and even carbon ceramic brakes (PCCB) on the options list.

Yet it’s the fundamentals that the Macan gets right. The heavily 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 a jacked-up car this size. But, it’s worth mentioning that the Macan isn’t as refined as many premium rivals, especially on larger wheels.

There are huge reserves of grip, and combined with standard four-wheel drive, the Macan unlocks a level of confidence that few rivals can match. The chassis needs a certain level of performance to unlock its potential – a level of performance that the four-cylinder Macans just don’t have – with the capable GTS dynamically closer to a high-end hot hatchback, than a high-riding SUV. Its explosive V6 engine is a delight to exploit as you accelerate out of corners, making a full-blooded noise as it revs right up to the red line.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

The Macan’s engine range is a story of two halves, split between in-line four-cylinders and a V6. Putting it simply, the four-cylinder engine found in the latest Macan and Macan T just aren’t powerful enough to overcome the car’s weight or offer a dynamic driving experience to challenge the car’s outstanding grip levels. The engine itself is an impressive unit in other applications, namely the Golf GTI and Audi S3, but when trying to fight around 400kg of extra mass, 261bhp just isn’t enough. Some clever launch control antics, all-wheel drive and a sharp-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission do make for an impressive-sounding 0-62mph acceleration time of 6.2 seconds, but on the road it does not translate, often hunting through gears trying to find power that’s just not really there. 

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The Macan S and GTS are a different case. Rather than a VW-sourced four-cylinder, the V6 is a through-and-through Porsche unit, co-developed with Audi for use in some of its RS models. In the Macan S, the twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine produces a much more substantial 375bhp, and thanks to a clever hot-V turbocharger layout, is both more responsive and surprisingly efficient, making it only 2mpg thirstier than the four-cylinder Macan T. This is reflected in its 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds (with the Sport Chrono package), but felt even more acutely on the road as the same PDK transmission doesn’t have to work nearly as hard to deliver considerably more performance. 

Sitting at the top-of-the-range is the Macan GTS, packing an even more potent 434bhp tune, essentially replacing the now-defunct Turbo model. It manages the 0-62mph sprint in 4.3 seconds – a hugely impressive time – but if you’re under the impression that it will keep up with rivals like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio or BMW X3 M you might be disappointed because both of those admittedly more expensive rivals deliver considerably more performance from their own turbocharged, six-cylinder engines. 

Don’t bother looking for any hybrid or diesel options, though, as the Macan is strictly petrol-powered only.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    5dr PDK
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £55,805

Most Economical

  • Name
    5dr PDK
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £55,805

Fastest

  • Name
    GTS 5dr PDK
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £74,105
Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

No more EV! New BMW X3 gets petrol, diesel and PHEV power only
BMW X3 - front
News

No more EV! New BMW X3 gets petrol, diesel and PHEV power only

The all-new premium BMW X3 SUV has a sharp new look and cutting-edge tech, but no iX3 EV this time around
18 Jun 2024
Ford Explorer review
Ford Explorer 2024 - front
In-depth reviews

Ford Explorer review

Ford’s long-awaited electric SUV drives well, has some neat touches and impresses for efficiency
18 Jun 2024
New Audi e-tron GT facelift ups the power to a colossal 912bhp
Audi RS e-tron GT Performance - front
News

New Audi e-tron GT facelift ups the power to a colossal 912bhp

The Audi e-tron GT has been updated for 2024, while new entry-level S and flagship RS Performance models join the line-up
17 Jun 2024