Two Macans, one rapid and the other not so, are the new bookends of the range. The enhanced Turbo is quite something, but will you be happy with a four-cylinder Macan?
The Macan might be Porsche’s little SUV but it’s a big part of the business. While the sportscars build the image, it’s the SUVs that bring home the bacon, accounting for 70 per cent of sales here. The trucks have not hurt Porsche’s image; it’s one for which customers happily pay a handsome premium and the high-end prestige brand is still ranked as the most profitable manufacturer per unit sold. So a couple of new Macan variants can’t hurt, even one that lowers the cost of entry to the Porsche world. Helping balance the Macan scale is the arrival of an enhanced, range-topping Turbo model to remind us Porsche is still mad on performance.
The four potter
Known simply as Macan, the new four-cylinder entry model brings the admission price to Porsche ownership down to $109,900, and this a $15k saving on the next cheapest Macan, the S Diesel. The Macan uses an in-line four that also sees duty in various Audis, the 2.0-litre turbopetrol making 185kW with 370Nm rustled up from 1600rpm through to 4500. It works with Porsche’s seven-speed twin-clutch, and AWD is still standard fare with the fully variable system directing the torque flows between the axles via an electronically controlled clutch pack up front.
Porsche is never generous with the fruit, and so you can expect to fork out more cash on options. Macan buyers get a powered tailgate, parking sensors and reverse camera, power adjust for the driver only and seats trimmed in leatherette and alcantara. There’s a full infotainment system with nav and CarPlay, but the only active safety feature is lane departure warning. We’d be wanting stuff like smart key operation, active cruise and AEB, maybe adaptive dampers while most will lust after bigger wheels too. Macan buyers spend a further $15k on average on options here in NZ, so everyone is well conditioned to the Porsche premium. Those in the market may possibly consider the vastly better equipped GLC 250 Coupe at $104k or the X4 20d, even cheaper still at $97,600. But neither of those is a Porsche, is it?
So will you be disappointed with the base model Macan? We don’t think so. Sure, it’s expensive and lacks stuff that should be standard, but it’s still a great drive. Most love the look of the Macan and it is hard to spot the differences between models without spying the badge on the tailgate. So most won’t know you’ve bought the base model, especially if you upgrade the wheels.
It’s when you try to outmuscle something in a straight line that you’ll be found out. We couldn’t better 7.0sec for the sprint to 100km/h, the claim is 6.6sec, so hot hatches will have you done easily. Golf R drivers will be laughing. There’s more chassis than power here but it’s a good chance to appreciate the talent of the active AWD set-up while using the full extent of the engine’s potential. There’s a rear-wheel drive feel to corner entry and with less weight on the front axle, this four-cylinder Macan turns superbly, understeer not really part of its character. With an excess of traction, you can get into the gas before the exit proper and it pulls itself out with no hint of power-on understeer. The steering satisfies in its weighting and direct nature, and there’s enough feel too. With fixed rate dampers, the ride-to-roll ratio is well balanced and it’s only the brakes that feel underdone, getting a bit warm after a while. There’s a solitary Sport mode (Sport Plus is on the option list as part of the Sport Chrono pack) but it gives the drivetrain enough of a kick to get it done without having to resort to the paddles.
The four needs to work awful hard to move Macan, which is the lightest in the range but still a beast at 1890kg. The four is fairly uncharismatic as these two-litre turbos tend to be, but there’s torque enough in the midrange, and it revs well to 6500rpm. Figure on fuel use of about 12 overall, and high teens when flogged.
While the steering is on the heavy side around town, it’s light enough in the car park and the urban ride, while not as supple as something with adaptive dampers, is still fine. Set to D, the transmission is economically minded, so Sport mode has its uses if falling a little behind time on the school run. If one were to never sit in the high-end Turbo, you won’t know what you’re missing in the base Macan. There’s the usual Porsche precision build, even if most of the surfaces are just (high-end) plastic. There are however plenty of blank switches to remind that you bought the base model.
However, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with Macan; it’s a sweet handler in the SUV world, and, with a few options ticked, it’ll be perfectly suited to urban life for those with many a luncheon to attend.
The turbo with more
The jump from the bottom rung of Macan ownership to the top is a doozy, requiring a further $70k. For that you get the new Turbo with Performance Package, this w.PP model building on the run of the mill Turbo and costing a further $14,900, at $180,100. Porsche rearranges a few ones and zeros in the ECU to liberate another 30kW to take the total count to 324kW, and torque is up 50 to 600Nm. Bigger, 390mm slotted front brake discs are added and lowered is the ride height of the adaptive air suspension. You also get the sports exhaust and Sport Chrono pack thrown in. There are 21s, LED headlamps, and black exterior detailing. Inside there’s more of everything, including real leather trim, though the active safety gear is still on the options list. Expect also air suspension with three settings, three drive modes, and a bogan button for more exhaust noise.
The boosted V6, a proper Porsche developed unit, is brimming with go from 3000rpm and it lives for revs, racing fast to its change-up point just shy of 7000rpm. It’s super responsive in Sport Plus mode, and yowls properly with the sports exhaust active. With the added thrust (0-100 in 4.4sec no worries), things happen considerably faster than life in the lesser Macan, the cornering forces greater and the chassis with much more work to do. The P Zeros deliver the grip but still with a heavier engine hanging further ahead of the front axle, you’ll encounter a whiff of understeer when forcing the issue with the Turbo w.PP, though it’s quickly sorted with a slight steering adjustment and gentle throttle lift. It’s much faster, but even heavier, rolling at 2050kg, though with stiffer sidewalls, the lowered ride height and firmer adjustable damping via the Turbo’s air springs, the responses are sharper still. While the fully stiffened Sport Plus mode can be too much for a bumpy road, you can relax the springs to Sport mode with the prod of a button for smoother yet still well controlled progress. The brakes are far superior in feel and power, while the transmission in full attack mode reacts to your wants almost telepathically, down shifting smartly under brakes and holding a gear when it’s appropriate.
The ride is well settled in Comfort mode though there’s a bit more road roar from the Pirellis, but these high riders are far quieter than the sports cars which are crazy loud on our coarse chip.
With the extra leather cladding in the cabin, and the added features, there’s a better sense of luxury in the Turbo. We could do without the overly hard bolstering of the seat squab, but appreciate the added adjustments. While the driving position is sound, storage isn’t especially plentiful, particularly for an SUV. The Macan has form-led styling, proportions more important than outright versatility. While the boot space is useful, the sloping fastback tailgate erodes ultimate load capacity, and the rear seat space is adequate without being overly generous either.
So, two handy additions to the Macan range, one that’s destined to become the best selling Porsche here, and the other for those who want insane levels of go but not a Cayenne’s worth of space. The only thing we wonder is what the Macan Turbo S will be like?
|Engine||1984cc, IL4, T/DI, 185kW/370Nm||Drivetrain||7-speed twin-clutch, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||7.4L/100km||C02 Output||172g/km|
|Model||Porsche Macan Turbo||Price||$180,100|
|Engine||3604cc, V6, T/DI, 324kW/600Nm||Drivetrain||7-speed twin-clutch, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||9.7L/100km||C02 Output||224g/km|