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Can the highly popular SUV retain traditional Porsche qualities as it enters the age of EVs?

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The new Porsche Macan Electric has an unambiguous but also potentially thankless assignment ahead of it: it needs only to be The Porsche Macan, just powered by electricity.

If only this was as simple as it sounds. For many, the existing, combustion version of Porsche’s junior SUV represents a class-dominating spider chart of performance, space for the family, long-distance road manners and just enough fun to ensure you don’t regret passing up that Cayman build slot, not to mention residuals of a strength that makes King Kong look like the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Macan’s a rare thing in that it really does have no obvious weaknesses.

But even the best electric cars have weaknesses. Excellent as many now are, there are compromises in terms of range, price or weight. It means the electric Macan’s biggest challenge may not be in defeating the imminent Polestar 4 or the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, but matching for broad appeal the combustionpowered Macan, which will soldier on until retirement in 2026. 

So how have they gone about evolving this model for the electric world? Let's found out.

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DESIGN & STYLING

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porsche macan 4 electric review 2024 02 rear tracking

Building the most capable zero-emission Macan possible has involved not shoehorning a battery pack into the floorpan of the ICE car but developing an entirely new platform.

It’s called the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) and it means that while the Macan and Macan Electric appear closely related, in reality they’re different cars from an engineering perspective. According to Jörg Kerner, chief of the Macan model line, not a single part – not even the badge on the bonnet – is shared between the two.

The 800V PPE has been developed with Audi and will shortly reappear underneath the Audi Q6 E-tron. It will also underpin the upcoming electric Cayenne, which is now in testing before a likely 2026 launch. The full-size SUV will be only Porsche’s third EV, but it will be another crucial car if 80% of sales are to be accounted for by EVs by 2030, as is the aim.

When you consider that the piston-equipped Macan and Cayenne are Porsche’s two best-sellers, representing more than half of total sales, you realise how critical the PPE platform will be for the marque’s bottom line in the years to come – and it makes its debut right here.

The Macan Electric arrives in two guises: 4 and Turbo. Both feature an electric motor on each axle, but while the 400bhp 4 uses a Bosch unit on both axles, the rear motor on the 630bhp Turbo is an in-house job built in Zuffenhausen, with an integrated, electronically controlled limited-slip differential.

Strip away the bodywork, as Porsche had done for a static exhibit at the car’s launch in the south of France, and you’ll also see that all these motors are positioned conspicuously behind their respective axles, in a nod to the 911 that should also pave the way for more expressive handling. The Q6 E-tron, by the way, doesn’t do this.

The car’s 100kWh NMC battery uses prismatic cells (unlike the Taycan, which uses pouches) and has a maximum charging speed of 270kW for a theoretical 10-80% charge time of just 21 minutes.

Such capacity does not come lightly, mind, and the 4 Electric weighs 400kg more than its most closely related petrol sibling, the Macan S. However – and get this – the centre of gravity for the electric model is 140mm lower. In an industry that would generally pat itself on the back for even a 10mm drop, that really is something.

As for suspension, the 4 uses steel springs (air optional) while the Turbo is furnished with air springs as standard, with rearwheel steering also being an optional extra for the first time on any Macan. For now, the Macan Electric is four-wheel drive, but a purely rear-driven version, as we saw with the Taycan, is apparently in the works. 

INTERIOR

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Inside, the Macan Electric takes its lead from the recently revised Cayenne (that is, the one that still has an engine).

There’s no cowling for the 12.6in driver’s display and there are a further two displays neatly recessed into the dashboard – one of 10.9in in the centre and, optionally, another one for the passenger.

It’s a lovely cabin, with a driving position that can be either fantastically low-slung or usefully perched. We’d also option the 18-way Sports Seats Plus, which are fit to grace any 911 GT3, being so firm yet comfy and sculpted.

An extra 96mm of wheelbase compared with the ICE Macan also gives rear occupants a touch more leg room, if still not enough to match the Ioniq 5 N. What the Hyundai can’t match is the Porsche’s 84-litre ‘frunk’, but don’t get too excited, because that’s less than you get in a Lamborghini Huracán’s knapsack-proportioned compartment. 

In terms of tech, the car comes with four USB-C outlets and integration for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as the new generation of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system, with voice assistance and slick charging-network information. 

There's also the option of an augmented reality head-up display, which projects navigation prompts at an effective distance of 10m ahead of the driver. Some will love this, though there's no doubt the graphics can feel overly dominant in your view forward – hardly suprising given that that 10m distance corresponds to an 87in display.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

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Porsche Macan Electric drifting

Drivability in everyday environments is first-rate. The Macan’s combination of steering speed, weight and accuracy, the gentle heft in its intuitively sprung accelerator pedal and the way in which it takes up what limited roll is permitted result in a cohesive whole.

This makes the car, which is 103mm longer and 15mm wider (but also 2mm lower) than the ICE model, supremely easy to place and control.

Those who bought the petrol Macan Turbo for its effortless midrange shove will warm to the Turbo Electric. It makes 427lb ft – that is, an entire 911 Carrera GTS’s worth – more.

Some may rue the lack of adjustable regenerative braking modes. For your scribe, the Macan Electric’s approach of freewheeling as a default and only slowing with pressure on the brake pedal (though the slowing itself is largely via the motor, not brake pads) has an enjoyable consistency and purity about it.

At some point, however, you will want to uncork the thing. How does the 883lb ft of the Turbo feel? Unsurprisingly, quite lively, as the 3.3sec 0-62mph time suggests. It’s not as discombobulating as you might expect, though, and there’s little to no drama in the form of wheelspin or, even more impressively, torque-steer.

The car’s new electronic architecture allows the torque-split between the axles to adjust in response to wheel slip in just 10 milliseconds, and you can believe it.

Combine this with remarkable discipline in terms of vertical body movements and wheel control, plus that accurate steering, and you have the makings of one of the fastest point-to-point cars around.

For those who dream of Alpine switchbacks, the differential in the Turbo is worth having too. In slower bends, it lends neatness and predictability to the car’s joyfully easy-access throttle adjustability, which on first impressions would seem to be a match for the hot Hyundai Ioniq 5. Or, indeed, a BMW M5.

The 400bhp 4 is less theatrical but, for most people, offers more than enough pace and composure. In fact, the 4 we tested, on air suspension and the basic 20in wheels, was a real star.

It’s less tightly wrought than the Turbo, on good roads finding a flow more easily, and if anything this makes the Macan Electric’s rear-biased torque-split shine through more clearly in the handling. If it's true that the Macan Electric's 2.3-tonne mass never truly leaves your conscienceness, it's also true that this weight is supremely well managed, and in the sensibly-powered 4 especially you'll find a car that can really be enjoyed and even goaded a little on the right road. It reminds me a little of Audi's RS3.

If there’s a chink the armour of a what is a roundly convincing family performance EV – one that relative to rivals is also quite keenly priced, if you’re judicious with your options spend – it concerns ride quality. The Macan Electric’s motorway gait is superbly supple but there’s a reactivity on smaller, choppier routes that might prove tiring in the UK. This is more pronounced in the Turbo but the smaller-wheeled 4 isn’t immune to restlessness. Both stop short of feeling brittle, mind. 

RIDE & HANDLING

Porsche Macan Electric front driving

It’s the handling precision and overall breadth of the dynamics that really got our attention the first time out in the new Macan, though.

Meier says a lot of effort has gone into ensuring its characteristics have a genuine Porsche feel, and indeed it’s terrifically fluent by EV standards, with a defined rear-biased apportioning of power and an ability to make quick changes of direction with loads of confidence-inspiring grip at both ends – even though our test cars were wearing all-terrain tyres. (Aiding this agility on the Turbo is a rear-wheel steering system.)

The steering is very precise and weightier than that of the SQ6 E-tron, which we recently drove in prototype form. The Porsche Active Suspension Management system that will come as standard on the Macan Turbo gets air springs and new twin-valve dampers, providing outstanding body control and self-levelling. There’s a firmness to the ride and some excessive road roar at times.

However, it takes care of pockmarked and broken bitumen with deft control, rarely requiring more than a single cycle of compression and rebound to dissipate road shock. (Note, though, that lower-grade Macans will ride on less sophisticated steel suspension.)

Further praise should be heaped on the brakes. They deliver lots of feel by EV standards, blending in the recuperation functions well without resorting to a decoupling of drive to the front axle, as some do. 

“We don’t talk about one-pedal driving at Porsche; we talk about one-pedal braking instead,” says Meier, in reference to many EVs’ heavy use of regenerative braking.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

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porsche macan 4 electric review 2024 01 front tracking

With a maximum charging speed of 270kW, the Macan Electric doesn’t quite match the 320kW of the revised Taycan. However, it has another trick up its sleeve: bank charging.

If the rapid charger in question is specified to only 400V (rather than the ideal of 800V), the car essentially splits its 100kWh battery in two, charging each half at 135kW.

Elsewhere, the Macan Electric deploys Porsche’s Integrated Power Box (IPB). This combines the on-board AC charger, highvoltage heater and 12V DC-to-DC converter into one 19kg package squeezed between the rear seats and the battery below, freeing up space for the ‘frunk’ – something plenty of EVs don’t have.

As for price, the Macan 4 Electric starts at £69,800 while the better-equipped Turbo Electric costs £95,000. For us, what the 4 offers in terms of all-round appeal is more than adequate and, sensibly optioned to an overal cost of less than £80,000, the car seems to be priced commensurately with other options, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N and alternatives from Mercedes and Jaguar. 

Note also that the Turbo's claimed range of 322-367 miles is fractionally lower than the 321-381 miles of the 4. 

VERDICT

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Porsche Macan Electric rear

If the greatest challenge facing the Macan Electric comes in its task of matching the everday appeal of the existing, combustion-engined Macan, it would seem to have made a good start. 

This is seriously complete and capable EV – one that hits real high notes in many of the areas you'd expect. It's also one that, just like the flagship Taycan, has a reassuringly deepseated Porsche feel about it. 

Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017, arriving from Evo magazine, and is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests, performance benchmarking and supercar lap-times, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found on Autocar's YouTube channel

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year, and focuses mainly on the more driver-orientated products, as is tradition at Autocar. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat. 

Away from work, but remaining on the subject of cars, Richard owns an eight-valve Integrale, loves watching sportscar racing, and holds a post-grad in transport engineering.