2015 Porsche Macan – First Drive

CARPHOTO-3587

Highlights

0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds with Sport Chrono
Sports car handling
Excellent quality and comfort
Aggressive styling
Good off-road ability
Comfort for four people and luggage

Technology 400 hp 3.6L V6 biturbo engine or… | 340 hp 3.0L V6 birtubo engine | Standard PDK dual-clutch auto | Active AWD | PASM active suspension | Optional air suspension

Electronics Porsche Traction Management | Torque Vectoring option

+ Pros Excellent performance and handling | Wonderful interior | Good looks | It’s a Porsche

– Cons Options add up quick
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When Porsche announced the Cayenne back in 2002, you could argue the company deserved the flak it got from enthusiasts who were upset at the apparent dilution of the brand and rather dismayed by its challenging design.

Of course, sales justified Weissach’s decision and perhaps kept the 911 assembly lines open during the recession. However, you can’t help but think things might have gone smoother if they started with the Macan.

Undoubtedly, time has softened opinions, but still the Macan’s smaller dimensions seem better suited to the sports car company. Its lower weight also makes it a more convincing sport truck.

Obviously, the new Macan is a product of the lessons learned from the Cayenne, so it’s a stronger proposition from the outset. However, I’d suggest the new Turbo model is perhaps the first truly practical sports car Porsche has ever built (please address letters of dismay to the editor, Mike Febbo, who disagrees).

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You don’t want to talk about the Macan’s Audi Q5 genes around any Porsche personnel because they’ll take a swing at your ear. Very little of it remains, although the platform is obviously shared. Porsche’s designers and engineers did a thorough job of separating them.

Visually, the Macan appears far wider and lower, thanks to its 38-pound aluminum, clamshell hood that houses wide-set 911-style headlights. Then there’s the wide center air intake and brake ducts pushed into the corners of the front bumper; the claw-like strakes giving the car extra menace.

From the rear, the Macan has 911 Turbo-esque hips, with the narrow glasshouse flaring out around the 918-style horizontal taillights. The profile shows a sloping roofline, reminiscent perhaps of the company’s sports cars, while the trim insert on the lower door panels can be finished in black, carbon fiber, or color-matched to suit your taste.

In the right body color, with the black trim package and 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheels, the Porsche Macan is an attractive car that will undoubtedly dominate the style-conscious crossover segment, outgunning the Evoque with more power, and being more distinctive than BMW’s offerings.
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The interior is typically Porsche and an interesting alternative to the aforementioned machines. The driver sits 2.75 inches lower than in the Cayenne, and you feel more integrated into the machine.

Where most manufacturers are taking the minimalist approach, the Macan cabin is still unashamedly button-heavy. The console is lined with a dizzying array of buttons that require you to take your eyes off the road for a considerable time when first searching for a particular function. Familiarity will inevitably alleviate the problem, and the styling is undoubtedly sporty in nature.

Yet Porsche has never been solely about appearance or style. Form follows function and, by definition, the Macan has to perform at the highest level. But how do you demonstrate the breadth of capabilities of a machine like this?

Fortunately, Porsche had devised a test that would let us go from city to freeway to canyon roads. We’d then climb steep, rocky hillsides and take high-speed laps of a demanding racetrack, sampling the Macan in almost every environment imaginable.

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Fitted with the optional $2,745 air suspension, the vehicle can be raised to increase ground clearance. It has a series of off-road traction and hill descent technologies that allowed it to tackle some very challenging terrain on the same tires we’d use on the track. The off-road button affected gear selection, traction control, and ride height, making it surprisingly adept in difficult terrain. Its ability to clear large ruts and straddle troughs was impressive, as was the way it found grip despite a very loose, dusty surface. We had the active all-wheel drive and Porsche Traction Management (PTM) systems to thank for our forward momentum and we can only imagine that, with the right tires, the Macan will be a useful tool in winter.

The same air suspension, when equipped with the $1,490 Torque Vectoring system, made the Macan unbelievable nimble on the handling course, being able to turn tightly at high speed without suffering understeer-something that wasn’t true of models without this technology. But at 4,300 pounds (depending on spec), some understeer is inevitable when pushed really hard. And yet, the most remarkable memory of the experience was the Macan’s agility. It really was like a taller, heavier car rather than a lowered SUV.

Our choice of engine would undoubtedly be the 400hp 3.6L V6 biturbo in the Macan Turbo. But with an MSRP starting at $72,300, and several of the well-equipped test vehicles exceeding $100k, the Macan S will inevitably be more popular.

Boasting a respectable 340 hp from its 3.0L V6 biturbo engine, the S starts at $49,900, which compares well to the $51,900 Audi Q5 3.0TFSI Prestige model.

If you’re going to buy the S, we advise you not to sample the Turbo. In fact, don’t go anywhere near one. It’s better looking with its deeper chin spoiler, and the performance is intoxicating. In fact, the Sport Chrono package fitted to the Turbo model will propel it from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Even the S will reach 60 mph in 5 seconds with the Sport Chrono pack, making it capable of terrifying the wife, kids, and dog!
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Although these cars will rarely find a racetrack, we couldn’t resist a few hot laps, and were extremely impressed at the Macan’s poise and stability. There were times when its weight was an encumbrance, but the optioned Torque Vectoring allowed you to hold a tight line and throw the SUV into turns with merry abandon.

The cars are equipped with staggered wheels to give the handling a rear-wheel bias for mid-corner balance. And it works, but again, it’s the ability of the Torque Vectoring that’s worth its weight in gold if you intend to drive the Macan hard.

The S model comes with standard, non-adjustable suspension, while the Turbo is equipped with Porsche’s PASM active suspension, which adapts to road conditions, creating a significantly more capable machine. Yet the optional air-ride is the ultimate solution for sports handling, being 15mm lower and seemingly better able to respond to hard cornering.

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The Macan is a handsome, capable, efficient means of transport that will do extremely well in the compact SUV segment. It brings oodles of class and delivers in every respect. Inevitably, it will become the ultimate family car for school runs, but it’s prowess is probably better suited to the 911 owner who likes to get away with the family, or sometimes needs extra cargo capacity for work.

Make no mistake, the Porsche Macan is a sports car with a tailgate. It will humiliate the vast majority of cars in any environment you care to name, and be more stylish, comfortable, and enjoyable.

The only thing I’ve found that comes close to the Macan Turbo would be the Range Rover Sport or BMW X5M, which will probably option out at a similar price once you’ve specified all the toys. It’s also the four-door, four-seat Porsche I’d choose over the Cayenne and Panamera.

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