Introduced as a 2015 model and carrying over unchanged for 2016, Porsche Macan technically seats five, but four occupants is more realistic, on a length of 185 inches and wheelbase of 110.5 inches. Families who need a five-passenger vehicle are likely better served by the slightly larger Porsche Cayenne.
The all-wheel-drive Porsche Macan crossover SUV was a success out of the box and is now a close second as the best-selling Porsche, behind the Cayenne.
Macan is based on the Audi Q5, with more room, stronger performance, and better looks, because it takes its styling from the handsome Cayenne. Actually, the base Macan S has stronger performance than the base Cayenne as well.
The standard engine is a 3.0-liter V6 making 340 horsepower and using a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, able to accelerate from zero to sixty in a swift 5.2 seconds, or 5.0 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package with its launch control and tighter transmission program. Macan S tops out at 156 miles per hour.
Macan Turbo offers 400 horsepower from a turbocharged 3.6-liter engine to shoot to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, or 4.4 seconds with Sport Chrono. It will go 164 mph. Even with the bigger engine and more power, Macan Turbo gets the same fuel mileage as the Macan S, with an EPA-estimated 17/23 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined.
Under the chassis there’s a lot going on to keep the Macan handling quick, tight and stable. Traction control moves the torque from its rear bias to the front when needed for grip, while available torque vectoring moves it from side to side, while the electronic locking differential across the rear axle pinpoints the power. Adaptive dampers and air suspension are available; the suspension lowers the ride height on the highway or raises it off road, where the Macan is quite capable with up to nine inches of ground clearance.
With long lists of options, the Macan buyer should allow plenty of time to carefully choose equipment.
Macan comes with a full array of safety equipment, and options that include lane departure warning, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control.
Macan S ($52,600) comes with a 340-hp 3.0-liter V6, seats trimmed in partial leather and Alcantara with Piano Black trim. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Macan GTS ($67,200) has a slightly more powerful 360-hp 3.0-liter V6 and an air suspension with 20-inch wheels, special exterior trim, heated sport seats.
Macan Turbo ($73,900) features a 400-hp 3.6-liter V6 and adaptive sport seats.
Porsche Macan shares Cayenne’s curves and angles, but it looks better because it’s shorter with a more dramatic roofline, has sharper sculpting on the side, and scales down Cayenne’s massive front intakes to merely extra large.
The headlamps fit into cutouts in the hood, which hangs with a tight finish over the corners. The rear end is simple and spare, while being fast and athletic, with slim LED taillamps on the wraparound tailgate.
There’s little to distinguish the Macan Turbo from the Macan S, other than four square exhaust tips instead of four round ones. The mid-level Macan GTS is the most distinctive, with its sporty black trim.
No doubt from the cabin that Macan is a Porsche, even with the touchscreen, which at least is comprehensible. The ignition is on the left, a Porsche tradition that either started to make running Le Mans starts easier or to save on wiring, depending on whom you believe. The Macan dash is slathered with switchgear, with at least a dozen buttons on each side of the shift lever. There’s a bright LCD as well as a high-resolution screen that takes care of secondary controls and redundant gauge information, with the main functions displayed and handled by the regular gauges.
The Macan S uses a simple black and gray, while the upscale trim is aluminum, carbon fiber, or dark walnut, with Alcantara leather bits. There’s a never-ending list of higher-priced optional trims.
The standard seats are nice, but the 18-way seats on the Turbo are especially supportive. (We haven’t sampled the GTS seats.) The rear bench seat splits in three sections, with the middle being an armrest when there are one or two passengers back there.
The seatbacks fold flat to increase cargo space to 53 cubic feet, and make the Macan a two-seater, dare we say as it should be. Behind the rear seat there’s a tidy 17.7 cubic feet.
The 340-horsepower Macan S offers performance and handling better than any SUV this side of a Cayenne, while the 400-horsepower Macan Turbo is in a league of its own, with blistering acceleration, effortless grip, and impeccable balance. But even without the turbo, the Macan will run with the turbocharged six-cylinder BMW X3 and the Audi SQ5. And it’s no lightweight, weighing 4100 pounds.
The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission doesn’t mess around, especially with the Sport Chrono option that quickens the shifts. The steering is quick, like no SUV we’ve driven, and absent of the expected SUV dead spots, though it feels numb and lacking in feedback.
In normal driving mode, the Macan is relaxed and easy to live with. It drops briskly and beautifully into corners, and accelerates out of them using the available torque vectoring, with a dab to the outside wheel. We would still go for the upgrade to the adaptive dampers with their three modes, as well as the Sport Chrono package. If you own a Porsche, it might as well feel like the best available Porsche.
Acceleration performance from the Macan Turbo is only 0.6 seconds quicker from 0-60, but it feels quicker than that, partly because of its turbocharger wastegate noise and deeper exhaust note.
It’s hard to get Macan sideways, even on the standard all-season tires 235/55R19 front, 255/50R19 rear. If you don’t like the 19-inch wheels, you can go up to ugly 21s or down to lighter 18s, same price. Macan GTS gets 20-inch wheels.
We have a lot of seat time in the Macan, on the road, off the road, and on the track, and it feels unflappable. It falls into line in steep curves, and cranks out of faster corners with a quick flick of the paddle shifter. You can feel the torque steer correcting a mild brief understeer.
The massive brakes offer cocky confidence, but the brake pedal feels soft. Turbo brakes are even bigger than those on the Macan S, with 14.2-inch rotors in front (six-piston calipers) and 14.0 inches in rear.
The available air suspension not only lowers the car for freeway fuel mileage, or jacks it up to carry loads, but it also widens the possibilities for off-road use.
All Macans have an offroad driving mode that adjusts shift patterns and torque distribution at speeds below 50 mph. With the big ground clearance and hill descent control, the Macan might think it’s a Range Rover, but it isn’t.
The Porsche Macan crossover is faster, smaller, and better looking than the Cayenne, all of which make it more like a Porsche and less like a Porsche SUV.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. Words by Sam Moses.