Some say the Porsche Macan is a crossover. Others claim it’s a sportscar. We wouldn’t include it in either of the categories, though. Instead, we’ll label the Macan a time machine.
No, Porsche’s Macan does not take you into the future, but it has arrived at precisely the right time. First of all, if there is something we have learned from all the niches invented over the last decade or so, it’s that we need to keep an open mind. Who wouldn’t want an automobile that drives a bit like a 911
but defies harsh conditions like a Cayenne
Secondly, this is the perfect time for Porsche to launch such a car. People have finally stopped complaining about the Porsche badge placed on vehicles with four doors and many have come to realize the benefits a crossover brings over other types of cars.
When building the Macan, Porsche started off with the Audi Q5 platform, but let’s not allow ourselves to be fooled here. The two cars won’t be too similar. Porsche used a similar scheme for the Cayenne, which borrows the Volkswagen Touareg’s underpinnings and yet the two are entirely different animals.
Numbers alone are enough to clarify this - about 70 percent of the Macan parts are either new or reworked.
We set out to test this with the help of a Macan S.
Porsche designers are never going to be happy about straying too far from the classic 911 shape so they pulled a few stunts to bring the Macan in line with the rear-engined coupe.
The Macan may not have a powerplant at the back, but the aluminum hatch and rear fenders are designed to bring a strong focus on this area. The roof’s slope is gentle and allows the cabin to offer decent headroom. The rear end is gifted with a set of taillights inspired from those of the 918 Spyder. Beautiful.
The Macan comes with a generous ground clearance and, to conceal some of the resulting height, its sides were adorned with longitudinal trim elements. VW Group designers are no strangers to such large add-on visual elements - the Audi R8’s vertical blades are an example as good as any.
Up front, we find an aluminum hood wrapped around the headlights and all the way to the generous front grille. Active shutter grille, to be more precise.
Since the Macan line-up consists solely of turbocharged engines, you will not be able to tell an S from a Turbo judging by its side grilles, as in the case of the Cayenne, where the naturally-aspirated models come with blocked off side air intakes.
By the way, if you open the bonnet, you’ll notice Porsche engineers like bracing. So do we.
The result of all this work is a Macan with a muscular stance, something to let you know this is no average crossover. This is a CUV that does not joke with aerodynamics. OK, it does not generate downforce, but a 0.01 lift value at the rear axle is the only compromise it makes for streamlining.
This overall profile of the Porsche Macan makes you marvel each time you step outside - as you exit, you find yourself higher than you were expecting while being inside. Speaking of the cabin, if you’ve been inside a contemporary Porsche recently, you’ll feel at home in here.
Last time we checked, the industry did not hold any world ergonomics awards. If it ever does, Porsche should receive the grand prize. We love the one-task-one-button layout that allows you to instantly and perfectly connect with the car’s functions.
Reporting from the driver’s seat, we notice the surprisingly low position, something to bring you into the right mood.
The atmosphere in the Macan is a healthy mix between the 911’s cocoon and the space you have in the Cayenne.
Imitating the actual small Porsches, such as the Cayman
, the Macan ditches the usual five-instrument dashboard, leaving us with three dials.
This is not the only element the Macan borrows from Porsche’s sportscars. The steering wheel is also on the list, inspired from that of the 918 Spyder, with both control buttons and ergonomic shift paddles. As most of you already know, the rest of Porsche’s current models force you to choose between a multifunction steering wheel and a paddle-gifted one.
Looking past the aforementioned details, we find plenty of room up front and good visibility. The rear visibility is an exception, but this is the case with most of the fancy cars nowadays. We head for the back seats and find a decent amount of space. Two adults can travel comfortably in here even on long journeys.
Engineering hasn’t reached that point where it actually rivals magic, so the sexy back of the Macan did require a small compromise - while the Audi Q5 offers 19 cubic feet (540 liters) of luggage capacity, the Porsche drops to 17.7 (500 liters).
The atmosphere in here is definitely premium and yet we wouldn’t mind if Porsche came up with an update for its interior design language. Something to make their cabins look cutting-edge.
Until that happens, we’re tackling the city in our Macan S tester and it feels just right. In fact, we could probably use these two words for just about everything the Macan does around town.
For one thing, the size of the vehicle is well balanced. There is enough car around you to bring the feeling of protection and you can glide the Macan through urban traffic. Did we say gliding? We meant coasting. The seven-speed PDK double clutch gearbox, standard across the range, offers this function.
Speaking of the powertrain, it feels relaxed in most conditions. This is a Porsche that allows you to mix the “Sport” button, also standard, with city driving.
“Everybody drives huge SUVs / crossovers in the city. Ridiculous” - this is one myth the Porsche Macan destroys. The only part of it that can’t be dismissed outright targets the fuel efficiency. We recorded 14.7 mpg (16 l/100 km) during the urban side of our drive.
You can’t expect the Macan to be an efficiency monk. Not when a Macan S like the one we drove tips the scales at 4,112 lbs (1,865 kg). We’ll note that this is the only major flaw we found with the car. Out on the open road, the fuel efficiency ranged from 23.5 to 12 mpg (10 to 19.5 l/100 km), depending on how personal we got with the throttle.
The cool part is you don’t actually feel all that weight while driving. The road behind us twists in a way that makes the rear view mirror looks like Dali’s work and the Macan has a smile on its face, so the Porsche agility is definitely here. You can kick the throttle mid-corner and the car is happy to oblige. The chronograph adorning the dash is our witness.
The throttle mapping and the PDK transmission have been tuned to deliver the Porsche-type immediate response.
Once you’re done driving the kids to school, give this thing a good whipping, it likes it.
Let’s not get carried away though, the Macan S can only partially outrun its power to weight ratio. Once that initial thrill passes, the car settles in for what is a warm acceleration pace. You’ll need the Turbo for the obscene stuff. Time to talk engines then.
Take the Panamera’s V8, slice off two cylinders, play with the balancing shafts and you’ll be left with the Macan’s heart. “Which Macan?” we hear you asking. Well, both the S and the Turbo use twin-turbo V6 units. The first has a three-liter displacement, while the Turbo adds 0.6-liter to that. The S delivers 14.5 psi of boost while the Turbo takes that to 17.4 psi.
Europeans also receive the Cayenne Diesel’s V6, massaged to deliver 258 hp between 4,000 and 4,250 rpm and 428 lb-ft (580 Nm) between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm. We only spent a short while inside a Macan S and we weren't dissapointed. Judging by the sound, you could swear this is not an oil burner and the driving dynamics are respectable.
Our Macan S tester treated us with 340 hp between 5,500 and 6,5000 rpm and 339 lb-ft (460 Nm) between 1,450 and 5,000 rpm. This is why you can't talk about turbo lag. As for the Turbo, this comes with 400 horses at the 6,000 rpm, with torque peaking at 406 lb-ft (550 Nm) between 1,350 and 4,500 rpm. Like we said, power is harnessed through the latest update on Porsche’s seven-speed double-clutch PDK.