The 2019 Porsche Macan S has landed with a new engine, sharper handling and more technology to boost its appeal as the brand’s best-seller. And we've driven it.
Leading the updates is its new single-turbo 3.0-litre V6. It differs to the old twin-turbo unit by housing a twin-scroll turbocharger in its vee, fattening its angle to 90 degrees and flipping the cylinder head’s intake ports within the valley.
Its tech specs are identical to the Audi SQ5’s and S4’s engine, with a bore of 84.5mm, stroke of 89mm, and compression ratio of 11.2:1. Porsche says its engineers lead the development project, but Audi had the platforms ready for the engine first.
The firewall and the wind screen’s plenum have been redesigned to fit it in. More importantly, it produces 260kW and 480Nm, up 10kW and 20Nm on the old S, but 20Nm down on its cousin from Ingolstadt that doesn’t have one.
Understandably, it’s different in character to the old oversquare twin-turbo six. While the old engine liked to rev, soaring to a 6900rpm redline, the new six prefers to surf its fat mid-range then fizz out before the 6500rpm ceiling.
This tractable surge of acceleration suits the car’s more practical, urban-dwelling concept, but that’s not to say that it’s suited only to those environments. Porsche likes to boast the Macan is the ‘sportscar’ of its segment, and while that’s a ridiculous idea, it’s not entirely untrue.
On one hand, you’re perched so high that there’s no mistaking its SUV DNA. But then it holds the road with the lateral stability and grip of a well-sorted hot-hatch, before adding the turn-in and front-end response you’d find in something typically rear-driven.
There are things at work only Porsche’s engineers know the secrets behind. Its dampers and springs are retuned and its multi-plate centre clutch, updated for 2019, prefers to drive the wide 295mm rear tyres. The fixed-ratio steering is positive and fluid, making it easy to manoeuvre at low speeds, but then assured and scalpel sharp at higher speeds.
New aluminium damper supports dropped unsprung weight until bigger front brakes, up from 350mm to 360mm discs, add as much as they saved. Its kerb weight without driver remains at 1865kg, and it hauls down its mass well through a lightened brake pedal that acts on a shortened lever arm.
Three-mode adaptive damping is now standard and for the large part the ride is comfortable. It absorbs mid-corner undulations with amazing stability and the primary ride is always well-judged while being tolerable at all times. It’s only the secondary ride, over the finer stuff, that suffers.
Upgrading to 21-inch wheels from the stock 20s will only worsen the problem, as you’d expect with a smaller sidewall, and while air suspension is available, the fact it never really settles down on either wheel suggests damping is not the problem.
Inside, the S gets aluminium door sills and a Piano Black finish on top of the base model, whereas both cars score a larger 10.9-inch infotainment screen. A bigger effort has been made to deaden road noise and improve fit and finish. But we think softer front seats would go a long way to improving its touring comfort.
More obvious changes have been made to its exterior, where new LED headlights peek through its clamshell bonnet. The front bumper’s cleaned up its grille design, with new vertical slats, and hides an active radiator curtain that closes when needed to aid warm-up.
Porsche has linked the brake lights with a single lighting strip, like most of its models, and employed braking LEDs in the same four-point style of the front Daytime Running Lights. All this freshens the exterior ever so slightly, so if you want to really make a statement, there are paint finishes like Mamba Green metallic and Miami Blue.
You’ll need $97,500 (excluding on-roads) to snag the Macan S. Or $1600 more than you needed for the pre-facelift model and $17,100 more than the base four-cylinder car. But it’ll be worth it. It’s slightly better looking now, more powerful and better riding.
And there are few rivals that can touch it. A BMW X4 M40i? Too remote. The AMG GLC 43? Dunno, we haven’t driven it, but we can imagine it’d be too wooden. And as for its test-tube cousin, the SQ5? Nowhere near as cohesive and complete.
If we were shopping with our money for something practical, fast and luxurious, we’d buy a wagon. Enter the Audi S4 Avant. But if you ever needed proof an SUV can offer involving a drive, this is it. Bring on the Turbo.
2019 PORSCHE MACAN S SPECS
Engine: 2995cc V6, turbo, DOHC, 24v
Drivetrain: seven-speed dual clutch, all-wheel drive
Power: 260kW @ 5400-6500rpm
Torque: 480Nm @ 1360-4800rpm
0-100km/h: 5.1sec (claimed)
Top speed: 254km/h (claimed)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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