History repeats itself here, to a certain extent. After our first UK drive in a Porsche Macan S Diesel, two things are immediately obvious.
First, that this isn't just a fine-handling SUV but a surprisingly well rounded one, too, dealing as consummately with the realities of the British rush hour as it will a fast backroad kink.
The second, however, is that the S Diesel won’t dominate its diesel-engined direct rivals from Audi or BMW on performance quite like a Macan Turbo might. It has, instead, a fairly ordinary performance level and a more relaxed temperament than anyone who’s buying into Porsche’s ‘sports car 4x4’ marketing message would expect.
Not that the Macan’s 255bhp 3.0-litre V6 engine isn’t deeply impressive. Mechanical refinement is something it excels on, declining to send any unwanted vibrations into the cabin at all and seeming very quiet indeed at cruising speeds.
Porsche’s standard seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission makes a very good companion for that engine. It has plenty of closely stacked intermediate ratios to haul through, it shifts quickly and cleanly in manual mode and its automatic shifting behaviour can be tailored to your tastes using either Sport or Normal mode on the PASM suspension. It's just that the car doesn’t ever take off down the road as briskly as you might want it to.
Our test car was fitted with optional height-adjustable self-levelling air suspension – a first for the compact SUV niche – which may partly explain its becalmed character. It steered very crisply, had grip, balance and body control way beyond the reach of most 4x4s and still rode very comfortably.
Chassis compliance was generous enough over bad roads to make the cabin feel nicely isolated from the road surface, which is among the primary jobs of a premium-branded 4x4 in our book.
In Sport and Sport+ modes some of that compliance is traded for cleaner response and greater control feedback. But drives in other Porsche Macans suggest that there’s sharper, more entertaining handling still on offer in the steel-suspended chassis – and buyers who really do want that sporting character should ensure they get a car so configured.