The Porsche Macan is Porsche's first new crossover SUV since the one that started it all, the controversial but highly successful Cayenne. Arguably, the smaller Macan's mission is less daunting. Although the midsize Cayenne debuted to howls of dismay from Porsche purists, its popularity in the marketplace has made the idea of a Porsche SUV seem perfectly normal. All the Macan has to do is prove that Porsche can do compact crossovers, too.
While the Macan has some underlying mechanical similarity to the Audi Q5, Porsche has subjected it to a comprehensive makeover. The result is a lower, sleeker vehicle that provides a unique interior, a choice of turbocharged V6 engines, impressive athleticism and even respectable off-road chops. The Macan does suffer in terms of passenger and cargo space compared to some roomier compact luxury crossover rivals, but nothing else on the market can match its overall performance.
Current Porsche Macan
Introduced for 2015, the Macan is offered in S and Turbo trims. In fact, both are turbocharged, but the base Macan gets a 3.0-liter V6 rated at 340 horsepower, while the Turbo boasts a 3.6-liter V6 that's good for 400 hp. The only transmission available is Porsche's seven-speed automated manual, known as PDK. All Macans feature an all-wheel-drive system that sends most of the power to the rear wheels by default for a sportier driving feel.
Porsche is notorious for its expensive options, but the Macan actually comes nicely equipped from the get-go. Standard features on the S include 19-inch wheels, active bi-xenon headlights, a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen and an 11-speaker sound system. The main attraction with the Turbo is what's under the hood, but there are also some exterior styling tweaks, more power adjustments for the front seats, an upgraded audio system and a navigation system.
Even the absolute entry-level Macan S, then, is still a desirable package, and possibly the best value in the Macan lineup. To wit, check out the price gap between S and Turbo; it's not for the faint of heart. But many Porsche customers revel in being able to personalize their vehicles with custom add-ons, and Porsche obliges with extra-cost items like 20- or 21-inch wheels, variable rear-wheel torque vectoring for more precise handling, an adaptive air suspension, a panoramic sunroof, tri-zone climate control, an upper-crust Burmester audio system and all manner of interior trim upgrades.
With the Macan, Porsche has built a focused performance machine, one that can keep up with most sports cars on a winding road. From the driver seat, the Macan feels hunkered-down and intimate, with Porsche's trademark rising center console creating a cockpit-like feel. Materials quality is excellent, giving up little if anything to other Porsche models. At highway speeds, the Macan is remarkably quiet, but big-time fun is just a squeeze of the throttle away. Even the base engine accelerates with verve, while the Turbo is either totally awesome or overpriced, depending on your perspective. On the downside, though, the Macan is fairly tight on the inside. A relatively small backseat and cargo hold make it less practical than the still sporty Audi SQ5 or BMW X3.