What is it?
How important is the Macan to Porsche? I think the following, based on the most recent annual sales figures, answers the question nicely.
Five years ago, Porsche didn’t have a Macan: last year, it outsold not just the Porsche 911, the 718 Boxster and Cayman and the Porsche Panamera, but also all of the above, combined. Fully 40% of all cars made by Porsche in 2017 were Macans.
What’s more, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Almost all cars follow similar sales curves through their lives: a sharp spike when introduced followed by gentle decline as other, newer rivals become available. Not so the Macan. Launched in 2014, it has outsold itself in every consecutive year it has been on sale.
So you can imagine that the briefing pack for those charged with developing this new Macan came with a command on the cover not to cock it up. Probably in gold embossed letters. I can conceive also that when it came to signing off the budget for this second-generation Macan, the phrase ‘don’t fix what ain’t broke’, or its Swabian equivalent, was wheeled out more than once. Which is why this new car plays it bullet straight.
Unsurprisingly, then, the car is more refreshed than renewed. Visual changes – including the new wraparound rear lighting that has become part of the Porsche design motif, new bumpers and headlights, the grille and rear diffuser – are restricted to those that can be achieved without the massive retooling costs required for alterations to the body-in-white.
Inside, you’ll find Porsche’s new corporate architecture or, at least, most of it. Analogue instruments are replaced by a 4.8in TFT screen, while Porsche’s 10.9in central touchscreen is now responsible for all information, navigation and entertainment functions. But it stops short of providing touch-sensitive panels for switchgear and continues to rely on buttons instead.
Porsche has also filled the car with the latest electronic refinements such as LED headlights, a ‘traffic jam’ mode offering far better low-speed cruise control in stop-start traffic, impressive-sounding ‘swarm-based’ traffic data and a dedicated off-road navigation app.
What you’ll not find in this or any of the other Macans that will be introduced over the next year or so is any kind of diesel engine. Porsche has turned its back on the black pump despite the fact that the latest diesels are as clean as petrol engines, come with torque characteristics ideal for SUVs and have far better fuel consumption and 20% lower levels of CO2 emissions. You might speculate that, post-Dieselgate, the suppliers to Porsche of such engines within the Volkswagen Group no longer enjoy the unquestioning confidence of Zuffenhausen, but I couldn’t possibly comment.
Whatever the truth, the fact is that the absence of a diesel Macan when almost all its rivals remain faithful to the fuel is going to make its life harder, at least in the UK and mainland Europe, where diesel sales may be in decline but are still strong, especially in the high and heavy world of SUVs. Bear in mind, too, that unlike the Cayenne and Panamera, there will be no hybrid Macans in this generation to take up the slack.