Porsche Macan review

Open gallery Close by Matt Saunders 31 January 2019 Follow @TheDarkStormy1 Share

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It seems fitting somehow that the Porsche Macan, the compact SUV that showed us so vividly how well a relatively high-sided ‘utility car’ could handle when it was launched in 2014, should have taken so little time to rocket to the top of Porsche’s sales hierarchy.

This is now, by a comfortable margin, the most popular car than Porsche makes. For the past five years, it has been on a remarkable upward sales trend, and it might even become the company’s first 100,000-annual-unit seller.

The Macan’s standard seats aren’t the last word in support or sporting sense-of-occasion, but the driving position is so good – and so low – you’ll hardly noticeMatt SaundersRoad test editor

It’s unwise to tinker too much with a successful recipe, you might think – but change has nonetheless been thrust on the Macan model range with the deletion last year of the Porsche Macan S Diesel model. Will that deletion put a brake on the march of this remarkable driver’s SUV, at least as far as UK owners are concerned? With no petrol-electric hybrid here for diesel owners to switch to, you do wonder.

In a bid to prevent any slowdown of the car’s sales fortunes, however, Porsche has given the Macan a fairly light but significant mid-life facelift. An updated pair of petrol engines is the mechanical meat of it, but new exterior styling, new interior features and a light suspension overhaul are also important factors.

What does the Macan line-up look like at launch?

For now, the Macan range is made up of an upper-level Porsche Macan S derivative powered by a new 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 with 349bhp, and good for 62mph from rest in 5.1sec; and an entry-level Porsche Macan driven by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 242bhp, making for a 6.7sec 0-62mph sprint. The latter gets an updated version of the four-cylinder engine available in the pre-facelifted car by special order, and is expected to be the engine that most Macan Diesel exiles will choose.

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The former, meanwhile, might be considered powerful enough to play the top-of-the-range performance starlet by most makers in the premium SUV niche – but it won’t for Porsche. That role will be played by the updated 400-and-something-horsepower Porsche Macan Turbo, which is set to join the range slightly later on, and will likely leave room for an upper-mid-range, extra-driver-focussed Porsche Macan GTS model to come later still.

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Each of the Macan’s engines mount longways and low under the bonnet, and drive the rear axle primarily through a seven-speed twin-clutch ‘PDK’ gearbox – with a clutch-based ‘hang-on’ four-wheel system vectoring torque to the front wheels when the rear ones begin to slip.

For suspension, the car has fully independent axles and, in most cases, steel coil springs as standard, with Porsche having replaced the steel front struts of the pre-facelift car with aluminium ones and, it claims, consequently improved steering feedback and ride comfort. The car’s anti-roll bar rates have been reappraised, too, for even more balanced, neutral handling, while its front discs and brake pedal assembly has been redesigned for better stopping power and pedal feel.

As an alternative to fixed-height coil suspension, meanwhile, Macan owners can have height-adjustable air suspension, just as they could before – only now with new spring characteristics as a result of new rolling pistons and shock absorbers being fitted.

The interior of the Macan is little changed.  By comparison with Porsche’s newer, bigger models, it’s a cabin that’s beginning to look a touch antiquated, the transmission tunnel particularly being so busy with switchgear that a motoring journalist partial to the odd benign cliche might reasonably describe it as ‘festooned’ with buttons.

The car’s reshaped air vents, and the upgrade of its ‘PCM’ infotainment system, at least mean there are places where the cockpit looks more up to date, however, and it’s entirely well-built and comfortable. Although there are richer-feeling luxury SUVs you might spend Macan money on, there’s almost nowhere that the car’s cabin looks or feels anything but solid and expensively hewn. The driving position is great – much more recumbent and sporty-feeling than the SUV norm – and the placement of the major controls and instruments are spot-on. Second-row occupant comfort is decent, with taller adults more likely to notice a shortage of under-thigh support than of headroom: a result of the Macan’s fairly low hip point.

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