Launched as a 2015 model, the Porsche Macan is now the brand’s best-selling model. Macan is a compact crossover 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 better be small.
The 2017 Porsche Macan lineup includes a new entry-level model with 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.
Also new is the 2017 Macan GTS, a high-performance version that takes the 3.0-liter V6 that’s in other models and raises the horsepower to 360. It will do zero to sixty in 4.8 seconds and reach 159 miles per hour.
The other two models are the Macan S, using that V6 but making a bit less 340 horsepower, and able to hit sixty in 5.0 seconds and reach 156 mph; and the Macan Turbo, with 3.6 liters and a zero-to-sixty time of 4.4 seconds, top speed 164.
So there you have it: pick a Porsche. How fast do you want/need your SUV to go: 142, 156, 159 or 168 mph?
Porsche’s 7-speed dual-clutch automatic manual transmission is used on every model, and they’re all all-wheel drive with a rear-drive bias.
Fuel mileage for the new base model is an EPA-estimated 20 miles per gallon City, 25 Highway and 22 Combined, Not so hot 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. There are no crash test ratings.
The 2017 Macan ($47,500) comes with leather and Alcantara seat upholstery, eight-way power seats, bi-xenon headlamps, 11-speaker sound system, power liftgate, Porsche Communication Management system, and a rearview camera. Things like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors are optional. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
There’s a lot of expensive available equipment and features for each model. To give you an idea, think 16-speaker, 1000-watt Burmester sound system.
The base Macan has twin stainless exhaust tips, the Macan S ($54,400) has four round pipes, and the Turbo four squared ones.
The new Macan GTS ($67,200) gets gloss black window trim, a matte finish on the lower body, and satin black 20-inch wheels.
One of the standard features of the Macan Turbo ($76,000) 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.
Usually when two cars look alike, the bigger one looks better; but not so with the Macan, which we think is prettier than the Cayenne. The front air intakes scale down nicely, and the hood drapes over the front corners in a tidy manner. The black window trim and black brake calipers, seen through the standard 19-inch wheels, look clean. The roof has a more athletic slope, and the sculpting is smoother. The tail is also tidy, with LED taillamps snug against the wraparound gate.
The Macan murders you with switches, buttons, knobs, and rockers, more than two dozen of them on the center console, split by the shift lever. But maybe you like that sort of thing, so it might be sweet murder, 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.
Macan GTS raises the horsepower of the S from 340 to 360. As for the Turbo, the larger 3.6-liter engine brings a massive 406 pound-feet of torque and 400 horsepower.
We drove the base Macan and found it 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. Also don’t forget to add that Sport Chrono package just so it’s 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 if they weigh less (unsprung weight).
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 two 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 falls into its own niche, so if you can justify the price, it will be a vehicle without peers. At least the new base model will be, with its torquey 2.0-liter turbo, quick 7-speed twin-clutch, and all-wheel drive. It boasts great looks, beautiful handling, and offroad ability. As for the other models with their bigger V6 engines, you might as well get a Cayenne, or at least compare.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.