A sports car on stilts, or a luxury off-roader? Somehow, Porsche's newest SUV manages to be both at the same time
26 December 2014

It’s hard to imagine that car makers could dream up yet another new type of car. But Porsche has managed to wrestle out another niche vehicle, one that really does rewrite the rulebook and offer a genuinely new – and extremely impressive – driving experience.

The glib summary would be to call the Macan a Cayman on stilts, but that would fail to do justice to how exceptionally clever Porsche has been with the conception and execution of this car.

When news first emerged that Porsche was working on a baby sister for the fantastically successful Cayenne and that it was loosely based on the Audi Q5, there was concern. Would Porsche really adapt the natively front-wheel-drive Audi in the way that it had adapted the Volkswagen Touareg to create the Cayenne?

I was at the Porsche technical seminar where the Macan was first unveiled and I remember being bowled over by the audacity of Porsche’s engineers, who had simply fitted a proper rear-wheel transmission into the architecture. 

It means that the longways-mounted engine is well back in the engine bay and, in normal situations, 80 per cent of the engine’s torque is sent to the rear wheels. Power for the front wheels is taken off the Macan’s transmission and piped forwards by a supplementary propshaft.

That’s as much as you need to know about the Macan’s technical layout because, for driving dynamics, it is effectively ideal. The weight of the engine and transmission is closer to the centre of the car and most of the engine’s wallop goes to the rear wheels.

But the second part of the Macan’s conceptual genius would have been much less easy to pin down at that technical seminar.The driving position is so brilliantly crafted that piloting this car along, say, a fast, sweeping country A-road becomes a genuinely new type of driving experience. There are two main reasons for this. First, the way that the driver sits in the Macan is uncannily sports car-like, especially the stretched-leg position.

Second – and this really makes the Macan a special place to be – there is the position of the ‘H-point’. The hip point (measured from the ground) is always in the same position, no matter the size of the driver, and it has been positioned to perfection on the Macan. Not SUV high, but high enough to work perfectly with the sports car driving position.

It all adds up to this: the Macan handles with extraordinary verve and imparts the kind of driving pleasure that no SUV has a right to deliver.

The first roundabout that you encounter – which the Macan skates through flatly with no more than a couple of wrist flicks from the driver – tells you what to expect on more challenging roads. 

In diesel form, it is super-quick and very frugal. On the open road, the combination of the view ahead and the Macan’s agility and pace makes it a superb car for achieving rapid and safe progress.

To date, I haven’t driven a car that so brilliantly harnesses utility, sports car agility and long-range comfort. I suppose you might say that it’s a bit like a Cayman SUV…

Come back tomorrow as we reveal another star car of 2014

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Our Verdict

Porsche Macan

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

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Comments
10

26 December 2014
Agree that this is really a great set of wheels - just I love the big brother a bit more :-))
Delighted wasnt in the COTY list because looking back over the decades of total rubbish - with maybe one exception - all COTY cars have been rubbish dogs of one kind or another, this award really should be named
CRAP of The Year

what's life without imagination

26 December 2014
.. the pictures are so small and no longer zoom it could be a pic of a Cayman, Cayenne or Macan I can't tell......

 

 

 

26 December 2014
It's laughable to call this one of the best cars of 2014. It's laughable to call it a car. It's an utter dog that's nothing but a badge engineered version of an Audi that was a dog in the first place. Please try to get some kind of grip.

27 December 2014
Chris576 wrote:

It's laughable to call this one of the best cars of 2014. It's laughable to call it a car. It's an utter dog that's nothing but a badge engineered version of an Audi that was a dog in the first place. Please try to get some kind of grip.

Have you driven a Macan? Actually, don't bother replying, it's obvious you haven't.

27 December 2014
Chris576 wrote:

It's laughable to call this one of the best cars of 2014. It's laughable to call it a car. It's an utter dog that's nothing but a badge engineered version of an Audi that was a dog in the first place. Please try to get some kind of grip.

I wondered where the trolls had got to! The Macan is a technically excellent car - I have driven one and it is as good as they say it is. Doesn't move me emotionally yet though. Hm.

26 December 2014
Anyone at Autocar going to fix this pathetic excuse for a website anytime soon????? As Deputy says, pictures too small, please revert to previous method. Also if the comments posted runs to more than one page, then subsequent posts are not shown as the first page of posts is just repeated on all pages. Please sort soon.

26 December 2014
Anyone at Autocar going to fix this pathetic excuse for a website anytime soon????? As Deputy says, pictures too small, please revert to previous method. Also if the comments posted runs to more than one page, then subsequent posts are not shown as the first page of posts is just repeated on all pages. Please sort soon.

26 December 2014
erly5 wrote:

Anyone at Autocar going to fix this pathetic excuse for a website anytime soon????? As Deputy says, pictures too small, please revert to previous method. Also if the comments posted runs to more than one page, then subsequent posts are not shown as the first page of posts is just repeated on all pages. Please sort soon.

+1 for this. There's no point in adding comments when you can't see whats been said before by other posters. This forum is a waste of time and space at the moment.

26 December 2014
Quote: "It means that the longways-mounted engine is well back in the engine bay ... Power for the front wheels is taken off the Macan’s transmission and piped forwards by a supplementary propshaft.

That’s as much as you need to know about the Macan’s technical layout because, for driving dynamics, it is effectively ideal. The weight of the engine and transmission is closer to the centre of the car..."

According to the technical drawings, the basic layout (including the engine position relative to the front axle) is identical in the Audi Q5. In my view, this highlights the brilliance of Porsche engineers who were able to transform the handling by changing the suspension geometry and the center differential (multi-clutch instead of crown-gear diff).

Rodrigo

27 December 2014
Hilton summed it up nicely in his opening paragraph - "It’s hard to imagine that car makers could dream up yet another new type of car. But Porsche has managed to wrestle out another niche vehicle, one that really does rewrite the rulebook and offer a genuinely new – and extremely impressive – driving experience."

The Macan would have been my choice for the top award of 2014.

It seems that the usual crowd of commenters are here in force - without any christmas spirit & complaining about the website.

As far as images are concerned, these zoom perfectly on a Windows 8 Touch screen laptop. Websites, obviously need to perform for a wide variety of web connected technology - but users should not have the same performance expectations for a Phone as compared to a 40in TV/Terminal.

The only justified complaint can be levied not at Autocar but at Mollom the ?sub-contracted company managing site comments. In my opinion the service provided by Mollom does not meet the performance criteria of a professional media outlet such as Autocar.

Malo Mori Quam Foedari

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