Car review: The Porsche Macan is your only man

The Porsche Macan S is a real contender in the premium compact SUV market, with two impressive petrol models and a must-own diesel

Make: Porsche

Model: Macan

Year: 2014

Fuel: Diesel

Date Reviewed: May 19, 2014

Wed, May 21, 2014, 01:00


Porsche has entered the growing premium compact SUV segment with the arrival of its latest model, the Porsche Macan. This pint-sized Cayenne goes head-to-head with the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Range Rover Evoque.

Porsche is continuing to expand its market, with global sales up 5.2 per cent for the first four months of 2014. The addition of this all-new Macan is sure to further increase these figures. The firm has invested €500 million into its production plant in Leipzig, Germany, in order to facilitate the production of the Macan, with an annual capacity to produce 50,000 units.

And it’s not just this small SUV that’s due on the market this year. Along with the arrival of the Macan, the new Porsche 911 Targa, Boxster GTS and Cayman GTS will all go on sale in 2014. It’s a busy time on the Porsche forecourt.

The design team for the Macan claim to have taken some inspiration from the 911 and 918 Spyder. There are elements of both visually; the headlights in particular follow the design of the lights on the 918 Spyder. The rear of the car features 3D taillights, and the switch for the electric tailgate is neatly concealed at the bottom of the windscreen wiper, leaving a clean look for the tailgate.

The interior of the Macan is a highlight. The driver sits low and snug, with the steering wheel and pedals in line with one another. The rev counter takes centre stage within the driver’s instrument binnacle, the speedometer is on the left-hand side, and a neatly integrated 4.8-in colour screen sits to the right of the rev counter.

This multi-function display has various screens including one for your trip computer, radio station details, telephone information and satellite navigation directions. You can toggle through these menus easily via a switch on the steering wheel.

The cabin offers luxury, with a high-quality feel to the materials used throughout. Headroom for rear-seat passengers is plentiful, considering the sloping roofline. Our test car had the optional panoramic roof, which adds to the sense of space by allowing a vast amount of light into the cabin.

There are three variants of the new Porsche Macan available: two petrol and one diesel model. The petrol line-up consists of the Macan S and Macan Turbo. The Macan S (€77,964) is powered by a three-litre V6 biturbo engine, the same you will find in a Panamera S. It produces 340hp and 460Nm of torque. The range-topping Turbo variant (€106,366) utilises a 3.6-litre V6 biturbo engine to deliver an impressive 400hp and 550Nm of torque. We drove both models at launch on the road and around the renowned Goodwood high-speed race circuit.

All models are equipped with Porsche’s seven-speed PDK transmission – Porsche Doppelkupplung, to give it its full title. It’s a superb piece of engineering and, in combination with the drive profile, can be tailored to suit your driving style. Gear changes take a fraction of a second. Our test cars were equipped with the optional sport chrono package; this includes the additional Sport Plus button on the centre console. When selected, it tunes the engine, chassis and gear shifts to deliver optimum performance. You can also change gear manually with the gear level, or – our preferred method – by using the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. The gear changes are far more noticeable in this mode and somewhat harsh; we preferred the smoother setup that’s delivered in Sport mode, which is standard across the range. Porsche’s PDK transmission has the ability to coast; when you lift off the accelerator it automatically decouples the engaged gear and the Macan will coast in neutral, improving fuel consumption.

The Macan handles more like a regular car than an SUV on the road. It’s reassuring to drive and feels planted even when you push on through the corners. The body roll is minimal and it therefore instils confidence in the driver. The Macan Turbo comes equipped with Porsche active suspension management as standard; this system automatically regulates the damper force on the front and rear axles.

On the racetrack we could notice an improvement in cornering with this system installed on one of the test cars. Nonetheless, on the road, the steel-spring struts on the Macan S and Macan S Diesel are amply sufficient.

Both petrol-powered Macans offer impressive performance and handling traits over their competitors – it’s just a pity the sound from their quad exhausts is so muted. A sports exhaust is a definite must-have on the extensive options list.

Sweet spot
Our favourite model is the Macan S Diesel. It’s a true all-rounder, offering abundant performance and fuel efficiency for a vehicle of this size. Its sweet spot is low down the rev range, where you can take advantage of its strong torque: 580Nm from just 1,750rpm. It boasts 30Nm more torque than the range-topping turbo model, and when you consider it’s some €35,000 cheaper, it truly makes sense as the Macan to own. This S Diesel’s performance is only surpassed by Audi’s sporty SQ5. We look forward to pitching these two power horses to a twin-test.

The Macan personifies Porsche’s ethos of producing high-performance vehicles that are rewarding to drive. The only dilemma I can foresee for Porsche is producing enough Macans to meet demand. In the UK all their allocation of Macans for 2014 is already sold out. As the economy shows signs of recovery don’t be surprised to see a few Macans appearing on Irish roads.

Porsche Macan S diesel: The lowdown

2,967cc six-cylinder turbo diesel putting out 258hp at 4,000-4,250rpm and 580Nm at 1,750-2,500rpm with a seven-speed automatic transmission

0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds; max speed 230 km/h

Combined 6.3l/100km (44.8mpg); Emissions (motor tax):
164g/km (€570)

Audi SQ5 3.0 Diesel 313hp €74,850 (motor tax €750); BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport 3.0 Diesel 258hp €70,810 (motor tax €570); Range Rover Evoque SD4 2.2 Diesel 190hp €50,550 (motor tax €390)


Our Verdict
A superbly capable premium compact SUV