For a two-tonne 4x4, it’s remarkable how poised, taut, balanced and plain enjoyable to drive the Macan is. It’s very nearly amazing. There is a cutting edge to its dynamic make-up that no other SUV on the market can approach, never mind equal – and you need a really good rear-drive sports saloon or two-seater to beat it.
Its sporting handling is even more striking than the outright performance. It doesn’t quite survive the transition from road to track, but circuit handling is of limited relevance to five-seat 4x4s. Of greater importance is that the Macan is a very habitable, well mannered machine that you’d happily use every day of the year.
The 21-inch wheels and stiff-sidewalled tyres create some road roar and surface patter that you wouldn’t get in, say, a Range Rover Sport. Even so, the Macan is at all times an effective luxury SUV – albeit one quite unlike any that you’ve ever driven before.
Straight away, its weighty, direct, feelsome steering confounds your expectations. Most premium 4x4s make life easy for the driver via a slower, lighter wheel that hides mass and makes manoeuvring more manageable but also communicates very little. The rim here is as precise as it is talkative, thanks to a chassis tune that keeps supreme control over any kind of body movement but also exhibits delicacy as well as firmness.
Porsche’s adaptively damped, steel-sprung sport suspension set-up gives you a choice of three ride settings, and both Comfort and Sport work well on the road. Bumps are absorbed quickly, quietly and with subtlety.
The car’s overriding sense of grip and composure on a cross-country road is never threatened – and it’s strong enough that you can drive this car as hard as you dare, almost anywhere, in total confidence. No matter the road – no matter your speed, really – the Macan just feels ready to go faster.
The Macan Turbo proved itself fully four seconds quicker around MIRA’s dry handling circuit than an Audi RS Q3. That’s full-bore hot hatch pace. When you finally reach the Macan’s adhesive limits, physics take over. The balance you sense on the road is replaced mostly by understeer.
A slower-in, faster-out style can give a neutral cornering attitude, but it’s fairly fleeting. Meanwhile, in the wet, the 4x4 system can cause as many problems as it solves in its attempt to vector torque after a slide begins.
Being tuned for peerless roadholding doesn’t make the Macan as compromised over the mud as you might expect. On 21-inch wheels, our test car’s low-profile tyres weren’t ideal for clawing through wet mud.
But on a smaller wheel, on one of the all-season tyre options offered by Porsche, there’s no reason to shy away from fairly serious off-road use. If you opt for the height-adjustable air suspension and select ‘high level’, then its off-road capabilities improve even further.