The Porsche Macan crossover is the best-selling Porsche. It’s based on the Audi Q5, but it’s longer, wider, and lower, so it’s roomier. It looks like the Porsche Cayenne, but it’s six inches shorter on a wheelbase that’s 3.5 inches smaller. It technically seats five but realistically only four adults, as that center rear passenger must be very small, and even then won’t be happy.
The entry-level Macan uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 252 horsepower and a strong 273 pound-feet of torque. It can accelerate from zero to sixty in 6.1 seconds and reach 142 miles per hour.
The Macan S uses a 3.0-liter V6 making 340 horsepower; it can hit sixty in 5.0 seconds and reach 156 mph. The Macan GTS was new for 2017; it’s a high-performance version that takes the V6 and raises the horsepower to 360. It will do zero to sixty in 4.8 seconds and reach 159 miles per hour. Last but not least is the Macan Turbo, with 3.6 liters and a zero-to-sixty time of 4.4 seconds, top speed 164.
Every model is all-wheel drive with a bias toward the rear, and uses Porsche’s race-bred 7-speed dual-clutch automatic manual transmission.
The only new feature for 2018 is an embedded SIM card.
Fuel mileage for the base model is an EPA-estimated 20 miles per gallon City, 25 Highway and 22 Combined, which is low for a 2.0-liter four. In the Macan S and Macan Turbo it goes down to 17 miles per gallon City, 23 Highway, and 19 Combined, about the same as the Audi SQ5.
The 2018 Macan ($47,800) comes with leather and Alcantara seat upholstery, eight-way power seats, bi-xenon headlamps, 11-speaker sound system, power liftgate, Porsche Communication Management system, twin stainless exhaust tips, and a rearview camera. Things like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors are optional. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Macan S ($55,400) with its V6 engine can be distinguished by its four round exhaust tips.
Macan GTS ($67,800) gets gloss black window trim, a matte finish on the lower body, and satin black 20-inch wheels.
Macan Turbo ($79,200) has four square exhaust tips. One of its standard features is the ability to mate with Porsche Car Connect, a mobile app that enables remote unlocking, vehicle location tracking, and other data. So if your Porsche gets stolen and hidden in a freighter bound for Africa, Scotland Yard can track it for you.
There’s a lot of expensive available equipment and features for each model. For example, there’s a 16-speaker, 1000-watt Burmester sound system. And there’s a Performance Package for the Turbo that jumps the price to $87,700.
The Macan is smaller than the Cayenne crossover, and we think it’s even better looking. The roof has a more athletic slope, and the sculpting is smoother. The front air intakes scale down nicely, and the hood drapes over the front corners to make the big 19-inch wheels look clean. The tail is also tidy, with LED taillamps snug against the wraparound gate.
The Macan barrages you with switches, buttons, knobs, and rockers, more than two dozen of them on the center console, split by the shift lever. But if you imagine you’re a fighter jet pilot, it’s cool. And the alternative could be incomprehensible screens.
The console divides the driver from the passenger and reaches the dash just beneath a bright LCD touchscreen, with a high-resolution screen in the instrument cluster serving as a redundant display.
The trim depends on the model, from simple black and gray on the base, to piano black, to aluminum or carbon fiber or dark walnut. Porsche’s custom list can wear you out with decisions to make, with almost anything available to be painted, stitched, or trimmed to your liking.
The optional front seats are exceptionally supportive, as they should be with 18 ways to support you. Thick lumbar and side bolstering, with cooling as well as heating.
The Macan can’t match the Cayenne in rear headroom and kneeroom. The bottom cushion is low and short, so the rear passengers’ knees might hit the front seatbacks; and the sunroof drops the headliner down on the heads of those passengers. The bench folds 40/20/40, so that skinny middle can fold down and into an armrest, which helps.
With the rear seat up, there’s 17.7 cubic feet of space, as big as a sedan’s trunk; and with it folded, the cargo space hits 53 cubic feet. There’s storage below the cargo floor, as well. There’s a power liftgate, and to further aid loading things, get the available air suspension that lowers the car two inches.
The impressive 273 pound-feet of torque in the 2.0-liter engine comes on at 1600 rpm and lasts until 4500 rpm. And zero to sixty in 6.1 seconds is good, maybe not Porsche great, but okay.
The Macan S gets 339 pound-feet of torque from its 3.0-liter V6. For this model, and the others, there’s an available Sport Chrono package that brings quicker throttle response and transmission shifts, not that the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission dithers.
The Macan GTS raises the horsepower of the S from 340 to 360. As for the Turbo, the larger 3.6-liter engine brings 400 horsepower and a massive 406 pound-feet of torque.
The base Macan handles beautifully, responsive and brisk into corners, and powering out of them with a touch of torque to the outside rear wheel. But if beautiful handling isn’t enough, and you have the money, you can upgrade with three-mode adaptive shocks, a torque-vectoring system to tighten the cornering lines, with an electronically locking rear axle differential that evens the power on the road. And adding the Sport Chrono package makes it still sharper.
The standard 19-inch wheels carry wide tires, 235/55 front and 255/50 rear, but you can size up to 21, or down to lightweight 18-inch wheels at no cost. We like that latter idea, believing that 18-inch wheels are big enough for a compact crossover, especially considering they weigh less, which quickens the suspension response.
The Macan Turbo brings scalding acceleration, effortless grip, and impeccable balance, while popping off a lot wastegate noise and a deep-throated exhaust note. It’s impossible to get it flustered. Paddle down and crank out of a corner, and it shuffles torque to the outside wheel after a moment of mild understeer.
The brakes are massive 14.2-inch rotors with six-piston calipers, same as the GTS and a half-inch larger in diameter than the other models.
That air suspension with adaptive shocks isn’t just for lowering the car to make loading heavy things easier; it also raises the ground clearance from 7.5 to 9.08 inches. So it’s pretty much necessary if you take the Macan off road, where, almost amazingly, it’s comfortable. All Macans have an off-road mode that reprograms shifting patterns and torque distribution at speeds up to 50 mph. And with 7.8 inches of ground clearance and hill-descent control, the Macan S will follow a Land Rover Range Rover Evoque into and back out of the nearest bog.
The air suspension also lowers the car by 0.59 inches for better aerodynamics and fuel mileage at freeway speeds.
The Porsche Macan really has no peers. You don’t have to go beyond the entry-level Macan, with its torquey 2.0-liter turbo four, quick 7-speed twin-clutch, and all-wheel drive. Add great looks, beautiful handling, and offroad ability. The other models with their bigger V6 engines do have a peer: the bigger Porsche Cayenne.
Sam Moses contributed to this report; with staff impressions.