Price and specifications
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel, 190kW at 4000-4250rpm, 580Nm at 1750-2500rpm
Transmission and 4WD system: 7-speed auto, high range on-demand
Braked tow capacity: 2400kg
Spare tyre: Inflatable space saver
Fuel tank: 65 litres
Fuel use (claimed): 6.1L/100km
Fuel use on test: 9.1L/100km
Approach/departure angles: 24.8 degrees, 23.5 degrees
Ground clearance: 198mm (can be raised 40mm with optional air suspension system)
WHAT’S THE DEAL?
With prices starting at $84,900 (plus on-road and dealer costs) the Macan is the only Porsche for less than $100,000. Little wonder it’s proving popular and currently has a waiting list for owners.
It sits below the Cayenne in the now two-pronged Porsche SUV lineup, with a smaller body and less space inside.
That price is for the diesel tested here, which gets dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, auto tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, electric driver’s seat, partial leather seats, satellite-navigation, reversing sensors front and rear and a reversing camera. The standard tyres are 19 inches in diameter, although you can opt for 20s or 21s.
There’s also plenty of top end features, such as active headlights that peer around corners, distinctive LED daytime running lights and sleek LED tail lights.
There’s also a petrol-fed Macan S ($86,700) which gets the same level of kit as the diesel.
The flagship Turbo S is a $122,400 proposition but gets 20-inch wheels and more equipment, including a decent Bose sound system, with a better Burmester one available as an option.
At 4681mm long (4699mm for the Turbo, with its longer, more aggressive bumpers) the Macan is relatively long but its cabin isn’t huge thanks to the heavily tapered rear windscreen.
So space isn’t great, at least for those sitting in the rear. It might suit smaller families but is unlikely to keep adults content on longer journeys.
Up front there are no qualms, and the levels of comfort are excellent, from the electrically adjustable steering column to the snug but supportive seats. The array of easily accessible buttons and associated colour touchscreen make it easy to operate.
Boot space is also generous, with a long, wide compartment complete with split-folding seats and a good luggage cover.
ON THE ROAD
If cornering ability is high on your agenda look no further than the Macan. It’s a seriously impressive device through corners, hunkering down and hanging on tenaciously.
It’s helped in part by its huge, sticky tyres. Ours came with optional 20-inch units shod in Michelin rubber.
While many modern SUVs send most of their drive to the front wheels and apportion it rearward as required the Porsche Macan does it the other way around, all in the name of boosting that driving experience. Most of the drive is sent to the rear, with the front wheels brought into play as required, but most of the time there’s less than half the drive going to the front.
The ride, too, isn’t bad considering the capability. However if you selected the firmest of the three damper settings it’s too stiff for B-grade country roads.
The diesel engine is grunty enough without being particularly exciting. There’s 190kW of power and a solid 580Nm of torque, the latter available from just 1750rpm.
Teamed with a slick seven-speed automatic it makes for a decent combination and one that shifts quickly and decisively; choose the Sport or Sport Plus modes and the transmission will hold lower gears and downshift sooner.
But it’s not as fiery as some may expect from a Porsche. While petrol-powered Macans have a bespoke Porsche V6, the V6 diesel engine is a Volkswagen/Audi unit (in those more mainstream cars it produces the same torque and just 10kW less – 180kW/580Nm).
Acceleration to 100km/h is claimed at 6.3 seconds, but you can option a Sport Chrono pack that brings a launch control system and lowers that time to 6.1 seconds.
Fuel use is claimed at 6.1 litres per 100km but in regular driving expect to use closer to 9L/100km.
On paper the Macan has plenty going for it. The approach and departure angles are respectable, which helps ensure those sleek bumpers are less prone to damage. And the circa 200mm ground clearance is also reasonable.
It you choose the optional air suspension system (the standard independent setup uses traditional coil springs) you can raise the body by another 40mm.
Peer underneath, though, and the underbody protection is minimal. There’s a smooth plastic shield covering the sump and gearbox, but it’s flimsy and unlikely to protect against even a moderate strike; it’s more about high speed aerodynamics than protection of mechanical vitals.
There are also other limitations, especially with the tyres. Like many sports cars the Macan runs a staggered tyre setup, whereby the rear tyres are wider than the fronts. In the case of our car with its 20-inch tyres the fronts were 265mm wide and the rears 295mm across.
They are also very low profile, with the fronts 265/45 and the rears 295/40.
So apart from being prone to damage, you can’t carry a spare that will suit both ends. Indeed the spare tyre is an inflatable space saver that will be close to useless out of town.
The Macan’s wading depth is also limited to 300mm.
During out off-road testing the Macan was OK without being spectacular. Wheel articulation is below average so it quickly hangs a wheel in the air. Even in its Off-Road mode the traction control takes a while to apply brakes to the wheels that are spinning, meaning plenty of wheelspin before you get going.
But if you keep feeding on power it will eventually work it out and surprise in the sort of terrain it will traverse.
For those looking to tow, the Macan is rated to lug up to 2400kg, but the towball weight is capped at 96kg. It’s a neat setup, though, with an electrically retractable towball, making it easier to park and helping maintain those good looks.
If you want to make a statement and have fun doing it, the Macan is an excellent choice. It’s brilliant to drive, brisk and surprisingly comfortable and easy to live with.
But it’s best suited to light dirt tracks or some snow-covered roads. Unless you’re planning to make some modifications it’s unlikely to get too adventurous on more challenging roads.