The identify Porsche conjures pictures of enjoyable time behind the wheel. For me, meaning tooling round in a pal’s 1969 Porsche 912 on sunny Colorado afternoons with the highest down. After all, whereas many people develop up dreaming about cruising winding roads in a roadster, actuality finally ends up wanting like squiring our youngsters and groceries round sprawling suburban streets in one thing with at the very least two rows of seats.
Like each different carmaker that wishes to remain in enterprise, Porsche has embraced the SUV. Certainly, the Macan was the Stuttgart-based OEM’s best-selling mannequin worldwide, with almost 100,000 shifted in 2019. (The Cayenne was second, with 92,055 bought—we really stay in an SUV-ified world).
Launched in 2014, the Macan continues to be in its first technology, albeit with a modest makeover in 2019, the visuals of that are seen principally within the inside and in new entrance and rear fascia. From a efficiency standpoint, final yr’s refresh made the entrance wheels a half-inch wider, added some new tires, and swapped out metal for aluminum within the forks that join the front-axle provider to the spring and damper. There may be little change to the 2020 mannequin.
If you wish to get right into a Macan on a budget, the bottom configuration is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, which begins at $50,900. However these by no means present up within the press fleet. Our assessment mannequin was the $59,400 Macan S—a 3.0L turbocharged V6 with 348hp (259kW) and 354lb-ft (480Nm) of torque. That powerplant will take you from zero to 60mph in 4.9 seconds with the Sport Chrono package deal, topping out at 157mph (253km/h). The engine is partnered with absolutely variable all-wheel drive and a seven-speed transmission. EPA says to anticipate 20mpg (11.76L/100km) total—18mpg (13.06L/100km) within the metropolis and 23mpg (10.23L/100km) on the freeway. We acquired 18.7mpg (12.57L/100km) in per week of blended, early-winter driving.
Based mostly on my transient expertise with the Cayenne E-Hybrid and the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid final summer time, I used to be wanting ahead to per week with the Macan S, Porsche’s subcompact SUV. The Cayenne was all types of enjoyable, and it felt like a well-thought-out and coherent design. The Macan S… not a lot.
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That is to not say that the Macan S is not a very good compact SUV. I might fee the seats to be about probably the most snug I’ve ever settled into, and I’ve no complaints in regards to the Macan’s pace or dealing with. Each had been excellent—the SUV is extraordinarily aware of the driving force’s needs, and whereas it rides a bit excessive and may really feel barely heavy in curves, it steers very properly. So what’s the issue?
Let’s begin with the inside, which is beset by some unlucky design decisions. At the start is the radio. There is no solution to change stations with out interacting with the attractive 10.9-inch infotainment display. There aren’t any steering wheel controls (apart from quantity) such as you’d discover on nearly each different automobile in the marketplace, and no bodily radio controls apart from a quantity knob and tuning knob beneath the show on reverse sides. When you’re like my colleague Jonathan Gitlin, who hops in a automotive, tunes into channel 43 on SiriusXM and by no means modifications the station, that is no drawback. However I am all the time altering stations, if solely as a result of there is likely to be a tune on one other station that I like greater than the one I am presently listening to. In order that requires both touching the suitable a part of the show or primarily reaching over to the passenger’s aspect of the middle console to vary stations. Not solely is that unhealthy ergonomics, it will increase the alternatives for distracted driving.
In distinction, the middle console itself is filled with buttons and switches. There are even six buttons for controlling which vents emit scorching or chilly air. It is extra sophisticated than it must be, and the area may have been higher used for different stuff—like perhaps some bodily radio controls.
Small potatoes? Possibly, however the expertise of poking across the show and console in search of the precise management actually distracts from driving, which is a disgrace.
The opposite concern with the Macan S was extra stunning. It does not really feel very Porsche-like. Sure, it is quick. It handles properly. And it positively appears like a Porsche. However the cabin is very well insulated from exterior noise, and that features the engine. The result’s a surprisingly quiet trip that actually left me feeling disconnected from the street. Driving the Cayenne S Turbo is visceral, the place you expertise the fantastic roar of the engine and connection to the pavement. I by no means felt that means from within the Macan S. I used to be as a substitute left with a sense of disconnection from each winding street and straightaway. Dare I say it felt a bit of too… Audi-like?
When you grew up with a poster of a Porsche 911 (or 356) in your bed room and need your subsequent SUV to have a Porsche badge on it, the Macan S is the plain selection. When you’re merely Porsche-curious, that is the place issues get sophisticated. It may be a enjoyable drive—the throttle is responsive, it is a really snug trip, and it is a sharp-looking SUV.
However Porsche may do higher.
The largest concern I had with the Macan is that I by no means fell for it in the way in which I did the Cayenne. A part of that’s as a result of baffling inside design decisions I discussed above. However actually, the Macan S feels an excessive amount of like an Audi trapped in a Porsche’s physique. I by no means had that instant and visceral feeling of pleasure behind the wheel of the Macan.
And the Macan is pricey.
The obvious competitors comes from the six-cylinder BMW X3 x40i and Audi SQ5, each of which begin out a number of grand lower than the Macan S. And the choices add up on the Macan. Our $74,840 assessment mannequin could be about $4,000 extra if we wished issues like the complete suite of driver-assist expertise and a panoramic sunroof. Including any premium inside choices jacks up the value extra. You are actually paying a premium for the Porsche badge, and I am unable to say it is justified with the Macan S. If it drove—and sounded—like an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio at that value, it will be a distinct story.
Itemizing picture by BradleyWarren Images