From £43,5538
New Macan is more high-riding Cayman than junior Cayenne - in fact it's the most fluid and engaging SUV we've ever driven; but it doesn't come cheap...

Our Verdict

Porsche Macan

New 'junior Cayenne' promises to be the most sporting SUV yet

11 February 2014

What is it?

The Porsche Macan, a smaller sibling to the Cayenne, aims to carve out a more lucrative slice of the market for itself when sales begin in April. It’s driven here in range-topping Turbo form.

First impressions on first viewing the Macan are of its relatively moderate size. The dimensions vary slightly between models, but the Turbo tested here is 4699mm long, 1923mm wide and 1624mm high. That makes it 146mm shorter, 17mm narrower and 76mm lower than the second-generation Cayenne.

Whereas the Cayenne shares its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Touareg, the Macan is based around a modified version of the high-strength steel platform that underpins the Audi Q5. The two share a 2807mm wheelbase – 88mm shorter than the Cayenne’s – but they have little else in common.

The Macan receives its own mechanical hardware, consisting of specially tuned or unique engines, new gearboxes and a revised version of the Cayenne’s multi-plate-clutch four-wheel drive system. The Macan’s MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension is also described as unique, with track widths that are up by 35mm at the front and 36mm at the rear over the Q5’s.

The Macan’s bold styling takes a number of cues from the second-generation Cayenne, including a rather bluff front end that varies in look depending on engine. A large clamshell-style bonnet aids engine bay cooling and features oval-shaped cut-outs for the headlights, plus sides that run all the way down to the front bumpers.

Predictably, the interior has an upmarket feel. The look again draws heavily on the Cayenne, but subtle changes help set the Macan apart, including a multi-function steering wheel similar to the 918 Spyder’s. The rest is familiar, with a three-dial binnacle, touchscreen multimedia system and a high-set middle console housing a sea of switches. It looks cluttered, but the ergonomics are excellent.

The early Macan line-up will offer the choice of three V6 engines. Included is a Porsche-developed twin-turbo 3.0-litre petrol unit delivering 335bhp and 339lb ft in the Macan S and an Audi-sourced 3.0-litre turbodiesel with 254bhp and 427lb ft in the Macan Diesel S.

This Turbo is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre petrol engine that is described as being all new, although a naturally aspirated version of the same unit has appeared in the Panamera. Here, it produces 394bhp at 6000rpm and 405lb ft from 1350rpm. 

What's it like?

Pleasingly smooth, with an engine that pulls well from the front, is potent through the mid-range and accepting of high gears at low speeds.

There’s some low-end lag, but the new V6 is terrifically energetic on boost. With a short-stroke design, the engine also revs with great conviction for a forced-induction unit, rushing up to 6700rpm without feeling remotely breathless before hitting the limiter.

It is just a pity that the new V6 sounds so characterless no matter which driving mode – Standard, Sport or Sport Plus – is chosen. There is an entertaining burble to the exhaust, but it is more often than not drowned out by excessive induction blare. You wouldn’t call it bland, but the noise is rather insipid.

The engine impresses, but it’s the standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that really shows its class. It is fast, smooth and intuitive and has the ability to perfectly match revs on downshifts. The four-wheel drive system directs torque to the rear wheels and, when the conditions call for it, to the fronts, giving the Macan a distinctly rear-drive bias. 

Despite a kerb weight of 1925kg, the Macan Turbo driven here can hit 62mph from rest in a claimed 4.6sec and 100mph in 10.9sec. Porsche doesn’t limit the top speed of its production models, and the same is true of this SUV, which is claimed to reach 165mph. Even so, this most powerful of Macans is also relatively economical. Official figures claim 31.7mpg combined. Driven briskly over a mix of urban streets, autobahns and country roads, we returned an indicated 25.8mpg. 

The defining aspect of the Macan Turbo, however, is its handling. If there is a more fluid and engaging SUV, I’ve yet to drive it. Sitting on firm yet forgiving steel-sprung suspension, this SUV delivers an unusually high level of interaction and exceptional dynamic qualities.

You can fling the Macan Turbo down a back road at a decent clip and it responds beautifully, offering generous feel and a good deal of feedback through wonderfully weighted and engaging electro-mechanical steering. The overall agility and poise is outstanding for a car of this weight.

Away from winding roads, the Macan possesses terrific high-speed stability all the way up to its claimed top speed. 

The Macan Turbo’s on-road excellence goes a long way towards redefining class standards, and the ‘sports utility vehicle’ tag was never applied as fittingly as it is here. It is not so much a junior Cayenne as a high-riding Cayman in sheer handling proficiency.

The brakes are no less remarkable. There is a firm but progressive feel to the pedal, allowing you to confidently tip in the stoppers all the way to the point where the anti-lock begins to cycle. Not that the Macan Turbo is exclusively sporting. 

It is unlikely that many Macan buyers will venture far off-road, if at all, but a brief run in deep snow revealed that it is quite useful away from the asphalt. An off-road button allows you to alter the threshold of the traction and stability control systems as well as the four-wheel drive and optional torque-vectoring systems.

Porsche claims approach and departure angles of 24.8deg and 23.6deg respectively for the Turbo, while nominal ground clearance is put at 198mm and ramp angle is 17.1deg. The optional air suspension extends each of these values.

Should I buy one?

If you fancy a sporty SUV which can handle the occassional trip off-road, then absolutely.

Despite the odd flaw, it is hard not to get wrapped up in the overall brilliance of the new Macan Turbo. Granted, it is no bargain, but when an SUV is this good, it’s easy to believe that it will succeed. If the Macan Diesel and Diesel S are anywhere near as engaging, it won’t be long before the Cayenne is supplanted as the fastest-selling Porsche of all time.

Porsche Macan Turbo (Sport Chrono) 

Price £59,300; 0-62mph 4.6sec; Top speed 165mph; Economy 31.7mpg (combined); CO2 208g/km; Kerb weight 1925kg; Engine type V6, 3604cc, turbocharged, petrol; Installation Front, longitudinal, 4WD; Power 394bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 405lb ft at 1350rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual clutch automatic

Join the debate

Comments
19

11 February 2014
...therefore not very good

11 February 2014
rodster wrote:

...therefore not very good

Did you actually read the article?

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

13 February 2014
....and thank God for that.....

11 February 2014
Putting aside the 'oh, dear' styling, and the VAG group chassis, and the not-very-offroad capability, £59k is an extraordinary price for a small SUV. For that money you can have a Range Rover Sport - better looking, fabulous interior, impeccable off-road, a whole size bigger, and not a bad punt down a B-road either, by all accounts.

11 February 2014
That it would drive well was never going to be in question. Cost is also unlikely to be a hindrance to this type of car with the badge it's wearing. I think this car will live and die by its styling. I like the rear end, love the rear lights, but I don't like the front - there are far too many gaps. I like the interior though. The Evoque has shown that not having universally liked looks is no barrier to success, I can't see this being any different.


11 February 2014
It certainly wouldn't be on my shopping list, but badge appeal alone will ensure it sells.
I do like the rear light styling though.

"Why is http://www.nanoflowcell.com not getting more media attention? It could be the future... Now!"

11 February 2014
...will be the big seller when it eventually hits the market, if the 3.0 litre diesel comes in a £43k then the 2.0 version in the high 30's will do very well and is more in line with a car of this price point - I can see a few people opting for the Turbo to simply have the 'best one' but I cant see the smaller 3.0 litre petrol doing that well, which is a shame as Chris Harris already showed just how much that same engine can be chipped in his used S4 - 400 bhp should be possible easily, which matches this Turbo version at a fraction of the price.

11 February 2014
Look at how many switches there are on the centre consul! Most of them could surely be hidden away in an IDrive/MMI way? There's even space for even more switches if you've ticked all the options :D

It's a bit of munter in my eyes, and I hope the other versions are considerably cheaper. I wouldn't buy it just because of the way it looks, but I'd be wanting a 3.0d with a very good spec for no more than £40k if it was my money.

11 February 2014
I'm sure this if fantastic to drive, and has sky-high brand aspiration value etc etc, but it leaves me a little cold. Having said that, i can't think of any better competitor. They're all an abomination these sports SUVs. Perverse transport.

jer

11 February 2014
Co2 is excellent. Still can't help but think there must be loads of better alternatives and when optioned how much will it be ? I suppose a real world price on an XFR or M5 would be much much lower if you want class RR Sport. Nevertheless I predict it will sell in huge numbers espec the 40k 4cyl models.

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