Porsche Macan review

Overview

What is it?

The Macan is the most popular Porsche in the UK. It’s an SUV with a desirable badge, how could it not be a success? The thing is, the Macan has always overdelivered in just about every department. It’ll go further off-road than most owners will ever ask, it’ll hammer down a twisting road with more skill than most drivers would have the nerve to test, and it’ll seat five in front of a class-leadingly big boot. Porsche got the Macan right first time.

NO NEED FOR A BIG OVERHAUL THEN?

The Macan already had one facelift a few years ago when the full-width rear light bar and new infotainment arrived. In 2021, it had another tweak, as Porsche plans to extend its life and overlap it with the next Macan, which will be wholly electric. Because of the current car’s elderly platform, it would be too complex to turn it into a hybrid – it’s petrol only. Yes, this does mean diesel has been canned.

Last time Porsche overhauled its entry-level SUV, it updated the infotainment but left the rest alone. This time we’ve yet again got the latest, greatest Porsche touchscreen, but the flight-deck-style banks of buttons on the centre console are gone, replaced by a glassy touch-sensitive control stack that looks much cleaner… until you leave fingerprints all over it. There are new trim choices, but chiefly the rest stays as it was.

HAS THE ENGINE LINE-UP CHANGED?

With diesel having disappeared the Macan range now kicks off with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, priced from £50,800 and badged simply ‘Macan’. It runs a Porsche-honed, 261bhp tune of the VW Golf GTI’s engine. All Macans arrive fitted with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox as standard (badged by Porsche as PDK), though note this isn’t as modern as the eight-speed PDK used in Porsche’s bigger four-doors.

There are three Macans beyond that, using VW Group-sourced four cylinder and V6 engines. There’s the Macan S (£56,800, 375bhp), and the Macan GTS (£68,800, 435bhp). That’s the same as the old Macan Turbo, which has been skimmed from the line-up. Perhaps because they’re all turbos. There’s also a Macan T, a thousand quid less than the S and fitted with the entry-level engine, but gaining trick sporty bits to improve handling. More on that model in the Driving tab. Hint: don’t bother.

What all this means is that there’s no super-Macan capable of rivalling the 500bhp+ Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio in a straight line. But this is a car that doesn’t need to lean on raw pace to do its talking. It’s a superb all-rounder, even though it’s been on sale – based on old Audi Q5 foundations – since 2014. Some feat.

Our choice from the range

Porsche Macan review

Porsche

5dr PDK

£47,780

What's the verdict?

“Still a hugely capable, desirable package that’s just starting to show its age in places”

It’s some feat indeed from Porsche to have taken an Audi Q5 box of bits all those years ago, worked its magic and created a car that, from 2014 into 2022 (and beyond) remains a real class act.

Rivals have their own small victories: the Alfa Stelvio is lighter on its feet, and the AMG GLC 63 sounds cooler while being caned. But as an all-rounder, a car for all tasks and occasions, Porsche’s effort is unsurpassed. Conversely it’s free of drama, too, but that’s likely what you want spending this sort of money on a family car.

Unless of course, you want an EV. Porsche doesn’t even offer a hybrid, and you may well be tempted by a Tesla Model Y or Ford Mustang Mach-E GT for similar money. The times are changing. But as Porsche’s next Macan will be a full EV sold alongside this version, you wouldn’t bet against Stuttgart having all bases covered for some time to come.

Driving

What is it like to drive?

It’s very much the Macan’s comfort zone, this. Porsche’s been a dab hand at making SUVs handle improbably well since the original Cayenne arrived in 2003, and the refreshed Macan is no different.

But you probably guessed as much, given it’s really not changed a great deal under the skin. Porsche is coy about what’s been tweaked this time around, saying it’s mainly suspension calibration and new tyre designs, which hints that Porsche thinks the same as we do – there wasn’t much wrong with how the Macan went down the road.

WHAT MAKES THE MACAN SO GOOD TO DRIVE?

The body control is the standout aspect. The Macan does without the 48-volt anti-roll active suspension tech of more expensive premium SUVs, but the way it sustains momentum, avoids lean and controls its wheels over road imperfections is deeply impressive. It’s been done slightly at the expense of ride comfort – the suspension feels short travel and firm – but there’s agility, a definite sense of rear-biased AWD balancing the car mid-corner. Just don’t expect it to be as pliant and calm as a Discovery Sport.

But that’s not what the Macan is about. The only SUV that’s wrested the Macan’s throne as king of the handlers has been the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, which is even defter and feels lighter on its feet. For a squirt down a B-road, it’s TG’s favourite, but the Macan topples it as a more rounded, complete product. Not least because it’s better screwed together.

WHAT’S THE SWEET SPOT IN THE MACAN RANGE?

That depends entirely on what you’re after. The 4cyl entry-level version is hugely popular, says Porsche, helping fill the sales hole left behind by the diesel. It’s now up to a healthy 261bhp. But that turbo engine is pretty flat and uninspiring, and struggles a little with the Macan’s near-two tonne weight. 6.4secs to 62mph isn’t slow slow, but this engine doesn’t like being thrashed that hard. And that definitely makes it the wrong power plant for the newly arrived Macan T. This is a recipe Porsche has used to great effect in the Cayman and 911: the base engine fitted with the tastiest handling bits. But it doesn’t translate well to the SUV and isn’t anything like as charismatic and interesting to drive as it pretends to be.

Pay £1000 more and you can have the Macan S with over 100bhp more from a more engaging V6 motor. Less toys, but you won’t miss them. Over ten grand cheaper than a GTS while using a lightly detuned version of its engine, it leaves you a lot more wiggle room with the options list. Amusingly, Porsche says most of its buyers pick a sober colour and delete the rear badging, which (pleasantly) surprises us.

The GTS is the sportiest, hardest cored Macan you can buy, and among its chief boasts is that its 10mm ride height drop makes it the ‘lowest Macan to the ground’. Walk up to it in a car park it’ll seem little higher than the hatchbacks either side of it.

Which you could argue completely defeats the point of opting for an SUV, but given Porsche doesn’t make a small, quick estate – just imagine a dinky version of the stunning Panamera Sport Turismo, a Porschefied Golf R wagon – then perhaps this is the closest thing its engineers can sneak through the marketing team.

DOES IT HAVE ANY WEAKNESSES AT ALL?

While the handling and refinement are still impressive, the engines are the weaker link: the last version of the 2.0-litre struggles to top 30mpg in daily driving and the V6s suffer from lag and a strained top end. They’re not pure Porsche engines, after all. And whether or not it’s a ploy to sell more optional ceramic brakes, the standard steel stoppers aren’t Porsche’s best, particularly in the downright fast (0-62mph in 4.5secs) GTS. But you’ll only notice when properly wringing it out. Which we highly suspect you’ll do once or twice then just mooch around basking in the Macan’s general refinement.

Because while the ride is firm, the car feels reassuringly solid and well insulated making it a relaxing family car that is composed and settled if – sorry, when – you do choose to hammer it about a bit. Overall then, this veteran of the SUV world is still buyable for its handling poise alone. Impressive.

Interior

What is it like on the inside?

Here’s where the Macan extends its lead over the likes of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Jaguar F-Pace. Its cabin is more expensive. Its materials are exemplary. It’s more solidly put together than a Mercedes GLC, too.

Very few Macan buyers will push the limits of its uncanny handling, but plenty will be swayed by the designer label ambience of this cabin. And the basics – like a decent glovebox, hidden stowage cubbies and comfortable, supportive seats – are all catered for.

WHAT’S NEW FOR THE MOST RECENT MACAN UPDATE?

Up front, you’ve now got a much bigger, crisper touchscreen to use. It’s now 12.9 inches, possesses all the latest Porsche widgets and connectivity, and while fiddly at first, it’s a fine system once you’ve sussed it out. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work seamlessly and we like the wireless phone charger that clamps your phone sideways under the armrest, so it’s out of sight and distraction range while charging, but also doesn’t take up a whole cubby’s worth of stowage.

Porsche has now transplanted the Cayenne/Panamera glass console into the Macan. We always liked the physical buttons for their tactility, but it was starting to look dated and a Macan not draped in optional extras always had too many blanked-off buttons inside. The new look is less fussy and the tap-buttons work reasonably well.

If anything, this contemporary console only serves to date the instruments, which now look old-hat (much as we love analogue dials). The digi-dial to the right now seems blocky and laggy, and the whole section could do with borrowing the 911 or Taycan’s multi-screen cockpit. Carryover switchgear like the cheapo indicator stalks really clash with the dense, expensive paddleshifters next door. In some areas this is too obviously the most attainable, ‘ordinary’ Porsche.

IS IT PRACTICAL?

Rear space is adult-friendly. Despite the Macan’s clever styling (which hides its bulk with a slightly dipping roofline) it’s plenty roomy for a family, with a big boot out back too – 500 litres with all five seats up, and triple that in seats-down van mode. There is no seven-seat option, but no performance SUVs of this size offer that. It’d be one too many contradictions in a single car.

Buying

What should I be paying?

Prices start at around £49k for a basic model and rise to £69k for a GTS. But that’s just the start…

As usual for a Porsche, watch out for the options list. At long last, heated seats are now on the standard kit list, but you have to pay extra for ruddy seatback stowage pockets. And you can also spend plenty of chassis tech upgrades to tweak the handling (see the Macan T). You certainly don’t need to, we’d argue (see also the Macan T). Stick with the base 2.0 and its lighter front end would make it the most enticing to drive of the lot if the engine didn’t sound so uncouth at high revs.

As the Macan has been doing sterling business for Porsche for a few years, there are a few truths to be confident of if you’re looking to buy. Your money’s safe – residual values are strong and minimal updates for this revised model won’t shock-drop prices of existing Macans.

As ever, don’t expect that speccing the high-end Burmester hi-fi (£3,359) or dubiously hued seatbelts, air vent surrounds, dial faces or body colour-matched alloys will retain your ‘investment’ come resale time. There’s a reason most of the Macans you see prowling the school run are monochromatic examples on big wheels with sunroofs and dark leather.

WHICH OPTIONS ARE THE ONES TO LOOK OUT FOR?

Among the more tempting options are the various handling aids, like the £804 Sport Chrono pack (a stopwatch, Sport mode and a mode-switching dial for ramping up engine and gearbox response) and £1,860 air suspension with PASM (Porsche loves an acronym, that one’s for Porsche Active Suspension Management), which, if anything, makes the Macan handle too well. There’s so little sensation of roll, such mind-pulverising cornering speeds and such clever hiding of weight transfer, it’s likely to give you a headache from contemplating the mathematics involved.

Oh, and if the delectable Carmine Red and Miami Blue (£1,676) hues aren’t to your taste, there are plenty of boring blacks and greys that Porsche will spray your Macan with instead. But go on, be brave. You’re buying the best all-round sporting SUV in the world – why shy away from that?

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