July 2, 2014
2015 Porsche Macan S & Macan Turbo. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Brendan McAleer
Pasadena, CA – California sunshine glints off the badge on our deep-chocolate crossover as it takes a set through the sweeping canyon road, earning a Hawaiian shaka from the guy in the tuned 1980s BMW heading the other way. Respec’! Sure, this car/SUV/crossover/whatever marks the point at which sports cars are going to become the smaller portion of Porsche’s sales plan, but at least one enthusiastic driver doesn’t care.
Hours later, on the Streets of Willow race course, the same Macan huffs its way down the front straight, playing tag with an electric blue 911 Turbo. Okay, this is just getting ridiculous – what in the name of Ferdinand is a five-seat crossover with a roof rack doing howling around a track? And why is it sort of keeping up? And where’s that giggling coming from? Oh wait. That’s me. Sorry.
If the 918 Spyder is currently showing the way forward for the future of the hybrid sports car, then here’s the machine that’s the result of the promise made by the 959. That particular 1980s supercar dispatched physics with trickery like clever all-wheel-drive and sequential twin-turbos: it raced at Le Mans and then they jacked it up in the air and screamed across the desert to win the gruelling Dakar and past the pyramids in the Pharaoh rally.
The Macan, a new entry in the compact crossover market, has far more in its toolbox, from adjustable air-suspension to a highly advanced all-wheel drive and a blindingly quick gearbox. Essentially, Porsche’s engineers have dug up the skeleton of Isaac Newton and given him a boot up the backside: Physics? What physics?
Available as either the Macan S or the Macan Turbo (both are turbocharged – try not to think too hard about it), Porsche’s newest family member looks a bit like a smushed-down Cayenne. It’s fairly wide, and the designers have employed a bit of visual trickery to give it the swelling hips and sloping roof to echo a 911. Between you and me and the internet, I wish they hadn’t sloped the rear glass so much, and done something in the style of that concept Panamera Hybrid wagon of a few years ago.
However, it’s prettier than a Cayenne and the egg-crate front grille puts me in mind of a 1950s Chrysler “harmonica” sedan – in a good way. Twin gills just below the headlights give the Macan a bit of a fishy look up front, the optional side-blades (available in three shades including body-coloured) tighten up the flanks, staggered-fitment wheel-sizing gives it an about-to-pounce stance, and the three-dimensional LED taillights finish off a very minimalist back end. Note that there’s no latch – Porsche put the button on the wiper for a cleaner look.
2015 Porsche Macan Turbo wheel & dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Inside, both versions of Macan offer comfortable surroundings up front and slightly tight rear quarters. If you can’t fold yourself into a Cayman, this is the car you’ve been waiting for, and the seats in the Turbo are simply outstanding. But ignore that, you want the S model – more on that in a bit.
The steering wheel, that thing that you’ll touch every single day you drive, is simply lovely. Yes, it’s lifted off the 918, but it’s no alcantara-covered race wheel. Instead, it’s an easy-to-use multi-function device with solid-feeling thumb controls and a comfortable grip. As is typical of Porsche, the paddle shifters attached to it are solid metal, which makes for a quality tactile experience.
2015 Porsche Macan Turbo seating & cargo area. Click image to enlarge
The rest of the cabin echoes Porsche’s design, with more buttons than an airliner and a high level of attention to fit and finish. As with a Panamera, you can select all kinds of custom interior options as long as you’re willing to pay for the privilege, but even a modestly equipped car looks a bit more special inside than an Audi Q5. However, the rear trunk is quite small at 500 L, meaning that you’ll be employing the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats fairly often.
Other gripes include only modest storage, and cupholders placed almost exactly where you’d want to rest your arm. Of course, this being a Porsche, you’re going to have your hands locked at 9-and-3, looking up and through the corner for your apex, even when ferrying the kids to school, right? Perhaps not.