Porsche Macan (2014 – ) review
Effectively a baby brother for the Cayenne, the Macan is a sporty SUV to rival the likes of the Jaguar F-Pace, BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe
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Being a Porsche, the Macan is designed to sit at the sportiest end of the small SUV spectrum, and it certainly looks racier than most of its rivals. You can trace the relationship between some of the Macan’s details and those of more exotic Porsches like the 911 and the 918 Spyder. The swooping roofline towards the back of the car, plus its shallow tailgate, give the lines some extra drama. The exact look of the car varies according to the model you buy. The S models have circular foglamps at the front and outboard-mounted circular quad exhausts, where the Turbo has squared-off tailpipes, oblong foglights and four-point LED daytime running lights incorporated into the headlamps, as well as fatter front air intakes. The GTS, meanwhile, has its own look, too, with the Sport Design package fitted as standard, but with all the details – along with the 20-inch alloy wheels – finished in matt black, and the car sitting on lowered sports suspension.
The Macan delivers every ounce of quality you expect from a Porsche. The plush materials, tactile finishes and flawless assembly see to that. The cabin isn’t quite so hot on ergonomics, though. The company’s philosophy of ‘one button for one function’ means that the sheer amount of switches on the dashboard can confuse you. Rear visibility isn’t great, either, but with electric seat adjustment standard on all models, finding a comfortable driving position is easy.
The Macan will be practical enough for anyone who’s going to buy it, even though it doesn’t do the job quite as well as some of its small SUV rivals. Despite that slinky roofline, there’s decent headroom in any of the five seats, but things get much tighter if you specify the optional panoramic roof. More of a problem, though, is the cramped rear legroom in all models. That said, the boot is a decent 500 litres and the rear seats fold down easily to expand that space.
Ride and handling
All Porsches, even SUV-shaped ones, are about handling above all else, so it’s good news that the Macan changes direction as crisply as a Porsche should. On the adaptive dampers that come as standard on the Turbo, and as an affordable option on the S and GTS models (we’re yet to try these on their standard suspension), body roll is extremely well contained under hard cornering, and there’s incredible grip and traction at all times. This makes the Macan unbelievably agile for an SUV – and that’s with the car in Comfort mode. Select Sport or Sport Plus, and it gets progressively sharper, as do the responses of the throttle, steering and gearbox. The ride is more comfortable than you might expect of such a sporty SUV, but things are less settled when 20-inch wheels or bigger are fitted. The GTS model, with its lower suspension, is sharper and more engaging than the S, but even better is the air suspension that’s optional on all models: not only does it make the ride a lot more cosseting, the handling is even sharper, too. With this suspension fitted, you’ll be truly astonished that an SUV can be so nimble, and yet so comfortable.
Four models are available, all with V6 engines, four-wheel drive and Porsche’s PDK twin-clutch gearbox. All petrol models are twin-turbocharged, the S having a 335bhp 3.0-litre, the GTS an uprated version of the same engine, and the Turbo getting a 395bhp 3.6. The diesel, meanwhile, is a 3.0-litre giving 254bhp. Even the slowest of them, the diesel, gets from 0-62mph in a blistering 6.3 seconds, while the Turbo trims that to just 4.8 seconds. In truth, none of the engines feel quite as devastating as those impressive numbers suggest, but there’s still more than enough pace in each case to get your heart racing. All the engines are impressively smooth and quiet, too, while the gearchanges are also quick and slick. Chuck in the Macan’s excellent suppression of wind and road noise, and refinement is top-drawer.
The Macan will cost you a bit more to buy than its rivals and, with only big, powerful engines on offer, it won’t be as cheap to run, either. The S and Turbo models return an official average of just 32.5mpg and 31.7mpg, respectively, and that return will be much lower in the real world, especially if you use regularly all the performance at your disposal. Then again, the diesel’s figure of 46.3mpg makes it a decent everyday proposition. What’s more, few small SUVs, if any, will be able to match the Macan’s stunning resale values, which will bring down your long-term cost of ownership.
Porsche has a reputation for building sports cars that won’t let you down, but the brand’s performances in some reliability surveys don’t exactly back that up. In Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, for example, Porsche is languishing dangerously close to the bottom of the manufacturer standings. However, the study doesn’t carry any data on the Macan itself, so we can only hope for an improvement where this car is concerned.
All Macans come with a stability control system to help prevent a smash, along with six airbags to help protect you if a smash becomes unavoidable. Two more airbags can be added from the options list, along with a whole host of other clever safety kit. This includes a lane departure warning system with lane-change assist. All very effective it is, too, as the Macan (the first Porsche ever tested in this way) scored a maximum five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP.
Porsche has always been pretty stingy with the amount of kit it provides as standard, and there’s been no change of heart with the Macan. All cars feature climate control, electric seats with alcantara trim and a touch-screen infotainment system with DAB radio and 11 speakers, but key equipment such as a Bluetooth phone connection and cruise control cost you extra. These items are provided as standard on the Turbo, along with upgraded seats, more leather in the cabin and a sat-nav system.
If you want the raciest, most enjoyable small SUV going, and you’re prepared to pay handsomely for it, then the Macan is it. Thankfully, the car’s price isn’t justified only by its driving manners. It also has a prestige image, good looks and impeccable cabin quality, so you’ll never be left feeling short-changed.