Sometimes the stars just align. Aussies increasingly prefer expensive cars from premium brands, usually in the shape of an SUV and typically a bit fast. And so – ding ding! – the 2017 Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Package scores a trifecta.
Several premium medium SUV models start from just $60,000 plus on-road costs, but you can add a ‘1’ in front of that pricetag for this particular flagship Porsche medium SUV.
Quite simply, the new Performance Package takes the 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine from the Macan Turbo and raises power by 30kW to 324kW, and torque by 50Nm to 600Nm. A claimed 4.4-second 0-100km/h also becomes two-tenths faster.
The question is whether a quicker, pricier Macan is actually a better Porsche SUV?
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $143,500 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 324kW/600Nm 3.6 6cyl petrol | 7spd automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 9.7 l/100km | Tested: 13.7 l/100km
Priced from $143,500 plus on-road costs, the Performance Package costs $10,000 more than a Macan Turbo. In addition to the extra power and torque, however, a buyer also scores a switchable sports exhaust, Sport Chrono package with launch control, 15mm-lower ride height, beefier brakes and a carbon-inlay engine cover.
Otherwise, in true Porsche fashion there are plenty of options, starting with a $14,290 Turbo Exterior Package with 21-inch wheels (replacing 20s), black tailpipes and exterior inserts, adaptive LED headlights and tinted rear lights, but not much more. It was fitted here along with a ($3590) Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus system.
Safety wise, $2990 adaptive cruise control with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), plus $2780 lane-departure warning and assistance, should be standard.
It really is all too easy to tickle this medium SUV up towards $200,000 – and in this lofty region, practicality must meet with potency and panache.
- Standard Equipment: Keyless auto-entry, multi-function trip computer, power windows and mirrors, tri-zone climate control, cruise control, leather steering wheel and trim, Alcantara rooflining, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and auto on/off headlights and wipers.
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen with digital radio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB/SD-card inputs, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto mirroring, satellite navigation, voice control and 545W, 14-speaker Bose audio.
- Options Fitted: Panoramic glass roof ($3790), around-view monitor ($1660) Power Steering Plus ($650), plus above exterior/mechanical options.
- Cargo Volume: 500 litres.
To some eyes the Macan looks more like a pumped-up hatch than a scaled-down SUV, but that’s perhaps no bad thing. The quintessential high driving position remains, but a Turbo Performance Package driver sinks into a deep and lush seat.
The three-year old dashboard can still divide opinion, though. It lacks the touch-sensitive controls and supersized touchscreen of a Panamera, or the forthcoming Cayenne, and the myriad buttons along the centre stack can initially be confronting.
With familiarity, however, the ergonomics are spot-on thanks to defined buttons that allow the driver to ‘feel’ their way around the cabin without lowering the eyes. The screen menus are simple and intuitive, and the analogue speedometer is flanked by a smaller side screen – an example of stylish simplicity trumping daring design.
Build quality, expectedly, is flawless. The options list may be long here, but the standard leather trim quality is superbly supple, and it makes an appearance both over the tightly stitched doorhandles and across the top of the dashboard.
Only a new Range Rover Velar out-styles it, but whether it goes the distance remains to be seen. A Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 certainly doesn’t feel as immaculately made.
Up front the Macan feels suitably high-end, but the rear quarters are less convincing. The back bench is deep and supportive, though legroom for passengers is disappointingly tight. This is where the Porsche feels most like an inflated hatchback.
It also lacks the sliding seat function of big-brother Cayenne, and storage is limited.
There is nothing special about the 500-litre boot volume either. The space is square and usable with little side intrusion, and there is 40:20:40 split-fold rear backrest practicality. But that figure is near-matched by a similarly priced Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate – or wagon – that is lighter, faster, more frugal and roomier than this Porsche.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 324kW/600Nm 3.6 V6 twin-turbo petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, AWD
- Suspension: Independent front and independent rear
- Brakes: Ventilated front and rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
With the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 not yet in-market, the C63 Estate is indeed most comparable to the Macan Turbo Performance Package. The AMG wagon costs $159,711 (plus orc) with virtually everything standard, it gets 375kW/700Nm from a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, claims 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds, and weighs 1730kg.
Price-aside, the Porsche respectively polls 324kW/600Nm, 4.4sec and 1925kg, though all-wheel drive is standard. Even combined-cycle fuel consumption is 9.6 litres per 100 kilometres here, versus 8.7L/100km for the rear-wheel drive wagon.
As with the options, though, Porsches are often beyond ticking boxes and comparing numbers, and so it proves with the Macan Turbo Performance Package.
Where the above Estate will rattle teeth with brutal ride quality, the Porsche on adaptive air suspension provides among the smoothest and most controlled rides within cooee of this price. Even in the firmest of its three settings it remains comfy.
Incredibly, this is all happening on low-profile 21s and with front wheels connected to brilliantly incisive steering that ideally treads between smoothness and sharpness.
Meanwhile the all-wheel drive system absolutely prefers powering the rear wheels.
As with the limited rear legroom, through corners the Macan is reminiscent of a supersized hatchback – only this time it’s in a good way. It can be thrown into bends vigorously, reliant on vast tyre grip before adding throttle to help shuffle its big SUV backside into place. Depending on how much throttle is used, and if Sport ESC is selected, its attitude can segue from fairly neutral, to oversteer playfulness.
Meanwhile the auto – dubbed Porsche PDK – can be left in Sport Plus without a driver needing to use the paddleshifters. It flawlessly picks correct gears, upshifting hard at 7000rpm and downshifting aggressively under brakes.
The twin-turbo V6 breathes in on country roads and digs deep with plentiful acceleration and a sweet, whooshy note backed by subtle burble from the exhaust.
Yet for all this fun, around town the Performance Package drives like any other model. The PDK is never caught over-revving the engine, or floundering for a gear, and only the tiniest bit of turbo lag – blame the weight here – can be felt off the line.
The Turbo can get thirsty, of course, though being masterful at mundane driving and also towering when toying through corners, really is a special virtue.
ANCAP Rating: The Porsche Macan has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags, ABS and ESC, rear-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres.
Servicing: Porsche does not offer capped-price servicing.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The V8-engined GLC 63 is only around the corner, but hopefully it doesn’t share the C63 Estate’s hard ride quality. The latter AMG is more hardcore and connected with its driver, but it comes at a cost to family comfort.
Meanwhile the new Velar has rock-star looks and an amazing cabin, but even its supercharged V6-engined flagship can only manage 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Macan Turbo Performance Package is not a hardcore, ultra-sporty SUV – best think of it instead as a quick, lush yet dynamic executive (nee family) express.
To be supremely entertaining for the driver, and wonderfully accommodating – in terms of seat and ride comfort – for passengers really is a high art, and on the road this Porsche’s staggeringly broad virtues shine like few others for $150,000-plus.
Viewed another way, a C63 Estate ultimately offers greater driver appeal, specifically. And at this price a Range Rover Sport could deliver similar ride quality with more space inside. But neither quite blends those virtues together.
While packaging improvement and a flashier touchscreen may have to wait for the next-generation Macan, however, Porsche should equip this flagship Turbo Performance Package with more convenience and active safety equipment in the here and now. It really would help align that final scorecard star into perfect place.
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