PORSCHE MACAN REVIEW
What’s Hot: Sporty and strong, a relatively cheap price, comfortable.
What’s Not: Still feels bulky, could dilute Porsche brand, six month wait.
X-FACTOR: It has a Porsche badge and costs less than $85,000.
Vehicle Style: 5 door SUV
Price: $84,900 - $122,900 (plus on-roads)
S diesel: 190kW/580Nm 3.0 V6 turbodiesel, 7spd DCT auto
S petrol: 250kW/460Nm, 3.0 V6 twin-turbo petrol, 7spd DCT auto
Turbo petrol: 294kW/550Nm, 3.6 V6 twin-turbo petrol, 7spd DCT auto
Fuel economy claimed: S diesel 6.3 l/100km, S petrol: 9 l/100km, Turbo petrol: 9.2 l/100km
It’s called the Macan, which is Indonesian for Tiger, but could also become known as "the populist Porsche".
The midsized SUV, arriving in dealerships mid-June, is the most affordable vehicle to wear a Porsche badge for a long time.
The range kicks off at $84,900 for the S diesel Macan, which significantly undercuts the cheapest Cayenne, the V6 petrol base model at $100,200.
There are two other Macan models, the petrol V6 S, which costs $87,200, and the more powerful petrol Turbo V6 model that costs $122,900.
Porsche always knew the Macan would be popular and it was right - 600 people have bought Macans without seeing one in the metal. Now, new customers are being told to not expect their cars before Christmas.
There is a very good chance the Macan could outsell the Cayenne and become the brand’s most popular model in Australia.
A more affordable four-cylinder petrol model could boost sales further - a model Porsche Australia is considering but has not confirmed it will take.
The Macan is based on the Audi Q5 platform, although Porsche engineers made major changes to make it more Porsche-like.
There is no sign of commonality with Volkswagen Group siblings in the cabin and the interior is all Porsche.
Slide in and you could easily be tricked into thinking you are sitting in a Porsche sportscar (except you are a long way from the ground). The interior and dashboard layout is clean and crisp with high quality surfaces.
Porsche does not use a control-ball information and entertainment controller, such as BMW’s iDrive, so there are a lot of buttons to control various functions.
Most of these are arranged in columns at either side of the gear-shifter on the centre console. There are so many that it can be initially overwhelming, although this may not be such a factor in time.
All Macans feature a 7-inch control screen, which, among other things, displays footage from the reversing camera (which is standard).
The standard heated leather-lined seats are extremely supportive and almost infinitely adjustable (with 14-way electric adjustment for S models, 18-way for Turbo).
A leather-wrapped steering wheel, modelled on the wheel from the 918 supercar and which features sturdy alloy gearshift paddles, is standard.
There are five seats, although the centre rear seat is small and its cushions are hard, and there is no third row option.
The legroom and headroom in the rear is more than adequate.
Porsche measures the bootspace at 500 litres, which is reasonable, although the space may not be useable as that number suggests.
This is because the hatch slopes at such an angle that moving larger items, such as big boxes, could be problematic.
A space saver wheel sits below the cargo floor and an auto opening and closing boot hatch is standard on all models.
ON THE ROAD
Porsche says the Macan is the sports car of its segment; just a little time at wheel confirms that claim.
Even so, it still feels like an SUV because not even Porsche engineers can escape the laws of physics.
After all, the Macan weighs more than 1900kg with a driver onboard and it sits high off the ground to allow for both the 'command driving position' and reasonable ground clearance (should you ever want to tackle a bumpy dirt road).
Although it might share its base with an Audi, Porsche has worked hard to give the Macan its own character and has succeeded.
The car is extremely well tied down and while there is still some inevitable body roll, it is limited.
There are two types of suspension, steel spring and airbag, and both deliver good body control and limited roll while remaining generally comfortable.
The electric-assisted steering is also quick acting and accurate and doesn’t feel isolated like some systems in other cars and SUVs.
That Macan’s considerable weight however is ever-present, especially on the slippery roads chosen for the media launch near Apollo Bay, along with its size.
Large A-pillars also affect the will to push hard by impeding vision in some corners.
There are three engine choices and all deliver strong performance - there is no dud in this range - and they all send their power through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to all four wheels (using a constantly variable torque split).
The entry-level diesel is a 3.0-litre V6 with a single turbo that manages 190kW and 580Nm. With so much torque, it really slings the Macan along with seemingly little effort.
A 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol is the next model in the tree and it revs more freely and delivers 250kW and 460Nm. It is faster than the diesel, but the engine has to make more of an effort.
The engine note is more ear pleasing, which could sway some customers, but none of the Macans are particularly loud.
The range-topping Turbo model also has a twin turbo V6, but it has been stroked to 3.6-litres. This means the power total is 294kW and the torque peak is 550Nm.
This is enough to rocket from 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds, 0.6 seconds faster than the petrol V6 S and 1.5 seconds faster than the diesel S.
That's quite a difference. But performance alone doesn’t justify the $35,700 premium over the V6 petrol S and $38,000 premium over the diesel S.
However, the Turbo model does come with a swag load of extra features, which helps explain the price spike.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL:
More than 70 percent of the 600 early Macan customers have not previously owned a Porsche, and that’s the point of this car.
It will have no problem finding buyers, especially among those who lust after the badge but can't quite make the stretch to a Cayenne.
The Macan should satisfy them. It is stylish (for an SUV), practical, and handles well (for an SUV). The Turbo model is also damn quick.
It is also easier to park and manoeuvre than the larger Cayenne.
If you are in the market for a family SUV that also handles and has some real street cred, the Macan could well be the vehicle for you.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Macan S Diesel - $84,900
- Macan S Petrol - $87,200
- Macan Turbo Petrol - $122,900