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Diesel baby Cayenne brings outstanding handling and refinement to the Evoque class but lacks outright performance punch

What is it?

The Porsche Macan S Diesel – an important version of this alluring new 4x4 because it will be the biggest selling variant of Zuffenhausen’s compact SUV in the UK. Porsche expects 60 per cent of British Macan buyers to opt for it.

That’s despite it being caught in something of a petrol pincer movement, with a considerably more powerful S-badged petrol on offer for precisely the same money, and a four-cylinder turbo petrol, cheaper to buy and cheaper on company car tax, available via special order.

Though the equitable showroom tag of the Diesel may not hint at it, our experience with the Panamera and Cayenne ranges does suggest that those Macan buyers stand to pay quite a large price on performance for the sake of that fleet-friendly engine – with the petrol versions of the larger front-engined Porsches tending to be considerably more sporting than their diesel siblings.

So do real-world diesel drivers get the rough end of Porsche’s stick again?

What's it like?

History repeats itself here, to a certain extent. After our first UK drive in a 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.


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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 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.

Should I buy one?

With the right option boxes ticked, there seems little doubt that a Macan S Diesel would serve almost any requirement you might reasonably put on a car like this.

It’s not the most practical car in its class – particularly in terms of rear cabin space – but it’s desirable and substantial of feel and brings new sporting verve to the smaller end of the popular premium 4x4 market.

As it turns out, its handling can be sporting with a big S or a little one. It’s just a shame that its diesel powertrain lacks that knockout punch.

Porsche Macan S Diesel 

Price £43,300 0-62mph 6.3sec Top speed 143mph Economy 46.3mpg (combined) CO2 159g/km Kerb weight 1955kg Engine V6, 2967cc, turbodiesel Power 255bhp at 4000-4250rpm Torque 428lb ft at 1750-2500rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic

Join the debate


14 May 2014
Just wait the 2.0 TDI FWD.

14 May 2014
The reviews on the Macan have been almost universally positive, and it's really good to hear the handling and most importantly the ride is up to scratch. As for the diesel, I'm surprised they haven't dropped in the 313bhp BiTDI from the Audi range.

14 May 2014
I have read somewhere that the twin turbo diesel used by Audi is too tall for the hood the Macan uses. However why don't they put the 300 hp version that he Panamera is now using into the Macan? However this would overpower the performance of the S model and the marketing gurus would probably not allow this.

14 May 2014
Why should you have to tick the right option boxes to get a decent car as implied , I worked out you could easily spend £15 to £16 k extra so it is not a £43k car more like nearly £60k car for a bit more you could a have a Ranger Rover Sport or a 911.
when that is factored in the depreciation will not look as attractive.

14 May 2014
Ski Kid wrote:

Why should you have to tick the right option boxes to get a decent car as implied , I worked out you could easily spend £15 to £16 k extra so it is not a £43k car more like nearly £60k car for a bit more you could a have a Ranger Rover Sport or a 911.
when that is factored in the depreciation will not look as attractive.

I see what you're getting at, but are you mixing up optioned Macans with base price 911s and RR Sports. What would they cost if you ticked similar boxes?

14 May 2014
The Range Rover Sport is fully loaded including special metallic paint the only thing extra would be a Panaramic roof ,the 911 you are probably right there will be some options required.I do not like paying over the odds for options, as a rule you get less than 10% back .I prefer a better car for the money.I presume a base Macan would be hard to sell in the future , say after year two or three, unless the price was very attractive ie big loss.

14 May 2014
Just for fun I looked at the 911 cabriolet with the "base" 3.4 engine then chose a few choice options and the price calculator showed just over £100k from the base £82k.
I expect the Macan has the 255hp diesel fitted due to a combination of marketing and price. The more powerful version produces too much torque for the VW group twin clutch gearbox, the Audi twin turbo and Panamera use the ZF 8 speed torque converter box as fitted to many cars.
All nice cars but very expensive, still we can all dream though.

14 May 2014
Don't really understand the review, the only criticism seems to be that the macan s diesel lacks punch, just checked the figures its as fast as a mercedes e320 diesel and just half a second slower than the BMW 530d to 60, that car autocar says is 'impressively fast', not to mention faster than the x5 30d , ml320 d and cayenne diesel.

Lacks punch?

15 May 2014
I also don't understand this review. The main criticism being that it lacks punch whereas the performance figures are more than adequate. Also Sutters said in his video when comparing the Macan to the Evoque that the engine was very refined and has serious performance? I think communication is lacking at Autocar...

15 May 2014
Having often debated with Mr Cropley the "fit for purpose" aspect of Autocar's tests the concentration on handling and performance is a bit of a puzzle. The key thing to me is the comment about lack of rear cabin space. If it's not very big in the back why the hell buy the thing?If I can't get my racing/sailing.skiing/whatever gear in the back or my dogs I might as well have a saloon. I'd certainly be far better off with that unfashionable concept and estate.Surely the headline should be "Porsche build strange SUV with no room at the back. It is expected that only poseurs will flock to buy this and will be trading it in within weeks of purchase"


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