It’s not often I get nervous driving at less than walking pace. But when I saw the boulder-strewn, ditch-riddled, steep and rocky ridge I was supposed to climb, I got really quite nervous.
Nervous about being revealed as the inexpert off-roader I am, more nervous about damaging a rare and valuable prototype on one of its final sign-off drives and, I guess, most nervous about tripping over a crag, falling over the edge and having enough time on the way down to calculate the terminal velocity of a 2019 Porsche Macan before it and I splatted ourselves into a pristine patch of South African veldt.
Porsche, it seemed, had decided to show me that the Macan was more than just the most entertaining SUV ever to be put on the market and that in this, its second generation form, it was also a formidable off-roader.
What had been done to achieve this? Had a low-ratio transfer ’box been fitted? The suspension raised? The approach and departure angles radically enhanced? No, no, thrice no. It seems Macans could always peddle this shtick, just nobody knew.
But in an environment requiring monster traction, manoeuvrability and driver interaction it was outstanding, as the fact that I survived to tell the tale attests.
What did that tell me about how Porsche has transformed this car after three years in the marketplace? To be honest, not a thing. Truth is, the car is not transformed. The car has been disgustingly successful these last few years and done more than any other to turn Porsche into the most profitable car company on earth. Why would you transform that? Or even much change it?
Except that Porsche can’t help itself. More than any other mainstream company on earth, Porsche loves to tinker, even when there’s no apparent need. And tinker it has, far more than the blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em revisions to the Macan’s exterior suggest.
And now you’re going to have to forgive me for being a little less statistically precise than usual, because at the time of writing the car does not actually exist, officially at least. The cars I drove were partly disguised and there is no press information, so what follows is based on unattributable gen gleaned from the various development drivers with whom I shared the cars.
Even so, I believe that what follows is absolutely what will be announced nearer the car’s official autumn unveiling, or as near as makes no difference.
The biggest changes come under the bonnet. Sadly, in line with Porsche policy the diesel Macans have gone (and rumours of a hybrid in this generation appear exaggerated) but the base Macan, the Macan S and Macan Turbo all receive considerable engineering upgrades.
The standard car retains its 2.0-litre turbo motor, but with its output raised from 248bhp in the current version to something close to the 300bhp the same engine generates in the likes of the VW Golf R.