2015 Porsche Macan S. Click image to enlarge
Story by Justin Pritchard, photos by Chris Koski
The Porsche Macan, like almost all premium crossover models, comes with all-wheel drive, a few engine options, five seats, some off-road capability, Bluetooth, navigation and a bunch of automatic and self-activating features designed to make it all comfortable and relaxing and fancy.
Of course, as a Porsche, and the brand’s second utility vehicle offering below the larger Cayenne, the Macan (it means Tiger in Indonesian) does have a few attributes that help set it apart in the marketplace. Not surprisingly, most of these attributes make Macan a compelling choice for the driving enthusiast. Or a current, former, or aspiring Porsche owner or enthusiast.
The look is one. Family styling elements are all here – the rounded, steeply-raked rear roofline calls the silhouette of the Panamera and 911 models to mind, and the wide-mouth grille and swept-back headlights make it look like a baby Cayenne. Big breathing openings with heat exchangers beneath subtly convey the presence of some high-performance hardware behind them, and the inset taillamps with LED light rings and a smoked finish call Porsche’s nearly-million-dollar hybrid wonder-rocket, the 918 Spyder, to mind, too.
So, it looks like a Porsche.
On board, same thing. The same styling ideology launched by the Panamera before sweeping across the model range sees a lengthy centre console flanked with two rows of buttons that put the gear shifter centre stage. Each front passenger gets their own climate control system, and there’s a centre-mounted analog clock, some carbon fiber, some metal, and a beautiful instrument cluster with a great big tachometer in the middle, where it belongs. Passersby and friends and family will peek into the Macan’s cabin and marvel at the number of buttons and switches, and typically say something about a fighter jet or a space-ship.
So, it looks like a Porsche on board, too, which is good stuff. Looks alone don’t make a sports luxury crossover great though – and delightfully, Macan feels and behaves and reacts like a Porsche, too.
Even a base-model Macan like the tested Macan S gets a 3.0L V6 with twin turbochargers that’s good for 340 hp. Go with the Macan Turbo, and you get a bit more displacement and more boost output, making it 400. With 340, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than hardcore performance buffs needing any more juice.
2015 Porsche Macan S driver’s view, cabin, centre stack. Click image to enlarge
As turbocharged Porsche engines tend to do, this one makes heaps of torque in the low and mid-range, pulls strongly to redline, and sounds tastefully restrained – albeit pumping a subtle, semi-exotic howl into the cabin at full throttle. It’s also decent on fuel – the low mileage tester was far from completing break-in, and managed a 10.8 L/100 km measured-by-hand test average consumption figure.
So, the engine sounds like a Porsche engine, delivers surprisingly decent fuel mileage as Porsche’s tend to do, and turns in acceleration that rockets the Macan S along on a rich and meaty wave of thrust.
2015 Porsche Macan S steering wheel & wheel detail. Click image to enlarge
To that engine is attached another piece of engineering Porsche fans and owners will be familiar with – the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. It functions like a regular automatic mostly – though in its paddle-shifted manual mode, it fires off millisecond gear changes that are perfectly rev-matched in both directions, and executed with instant response and blinding gearshift speed. Even downshifts that send the tachometer needle careening for redline are heard, but not felt. Shift up at full throttle, and a little ‘burp’ from the exhaust separates each gear, aurally, for further entertainment value.
This and the speed at which the tachometer flits around during hard driving, add massive entertainment value and involvement with the Macan’s performance experience, and browsing the gears while driving the Macan S hard is an experience not to be missed.
Handling fits the brand’s promise, too. With a weight-optimized body, track-validated suspension and carefully-calibrated steering, Macan is frisky bit of fun to throw around. The suspension does feel stiff and busy over rougher surfaces, though composure and stability benefit in a disproportionately positive way. Body-roll occurs as you dial in a steering input around a bend, after which point the Macan takes a set, stays flat, and flings itself around. That’s backed by a steering that’s heavy but quick – which is to say, confidently mischievous. It feels locked on and stable and surefooted, but simultaneously eager and playful. Drivers can explore and exploit the limits here with a grin – not a common attribute of most crossovers.
Brakes are similarly confidence-inspiring. Even in very hard driving, fade is negligible, and the system boosts brake pressure when the pads and rotors do manage to get some heat buildup, perhaps while towing over hilly terrain, to ensure consistent pedal feel. In virtually every situation, the brakes bite hard from an initial press, provide the opportunity for precise modulation, and, like the steering, suspension and transmission, connect drivers directly with the Macan’s capabilities. And stopping power? In a panic stop, you’d probably go through the seatbelt if it were any thinner.