Tick your bucket list with the genius Porsche Macan

By Ged Bulmer, July 12 2019
Tick your bucket list with the genius Porsche Macan

The 2019 Porsche Macan is more than just ‘any’ Porsche – it’s also now the legendary sports car maker’s global best-seller, turning the sales turnstiles at a ratio and a profitability that more than justifies the brand’s controversial leap into the SUV genre back in 2002 with its big brother, the Cayenne.

But if history has shown the Cayenne to have been an inspired move, then the Macan must be sheer bloody genius, outselling its stablemate by almost three to one in Australia last year.

It received a facelift earlier this year, which presented a good opportunity to get reacquainted.

At a list price of $81,400, the Macan is by far the cheapest way to buy into the storied Porsche brand. The nearest other Porsche in pricing terms is the single other Macan model, the 3.0-litre turbocharged Macan S (pictured), at $97,500. After that you need to look to the entry-level Cayman sports car at $114,900.

On some levels that makes the Macan a screaming bargain, even when wearing nearly $20,000 worth of extra kit that Porsche applied to our test car including 20-inch wheels ($5720), a panoramic sunroof ($3790) and Bose surround sound ($2650).

On the outside

Porsche has done a masterful job of carrying over some of the signature styling cues from its iconic 911 Carrera to both the Cayenne and the Macan; in the process creating a distinct design graphic that ensures these SUVs will never be mistaken for anything other than a Porsche. 

The Macan’s rear-end now features a full-width LED light bar, embedded with cool 3D Porsche lettering. The new light bar creates a distinctive night-time graphic while accentuating the Macan’s curvaceous rear end, wide hips and pinched waistline.

Under the bonnet

Lift the clamshell bonnet and instead of the horizontally opposed flat six you always dreamed would power your Porsche, you’ll find a longitudinally-mounted 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder that musters 185kW and 370Nm.

By comparison, the same capacity engine in a turbocharged flat four configuration, as fitted to the 718 Cayman, produces a meatier 220kW and 380Nm, all while powering a car weighing 460kg less than the 1795kg Macan.

No surprises, then, that the Macan accelerates to 100km/h in a brisk but less-than-breathtaking 6.7 seconds, which is some four-tenths slower than rival BMW’s X3 xDrive 30i.

If you want to put that pesky Bimmer in its place you’ll need to opt for the turbocharged V6-equipped Macan S, which cuts a far more scintillating 5.3-second sprint.

Still, the 2.0-litre turbo four-pot is smooth and willing, with decent punch off the bottom end and a pleasing willingness to chase its 6750rpm redline – even if it’s not overly sonorous in the audio stakes.

Power travels to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – or PDK, as Porsche refers to it. The gearbox is effortless in its shifting and barely noticeable as a twin-clutch until you get stuck into it, at which point the speed and precision of its shifts make it clear it’s not a conventional auto.

On the inside

At a time when many prestige car makers are decluttering their interiors, the Macan is characterised by a wide center tunnel that’s festooned with a dazzling array of switches, button and knobs. If the goal is to give the driver the impression they’re in command of a flight deck instead of an automobile, then mission accomplished.

This year’s facelift brings a bigger 10.9-inch infotainment touch-screen running the latest Porsche operating system, so you can avoid some of that switchgear, at least. The new screen features excellent quality graphics as well as pinch-and-slide mobile phone-style operation.

Ahead of the driver is Porsche’s classic three-dial cluster, with the over-sized tachometer taking pride of place in the center, flanked by a smaller speedo on one side and a configurable screen on the other, which can display mapping or other vehicle-specific information.

The leather-trimmed steering wheel is beautifully sized and hides compact paddles for manual shifting; while the sculpted leather seats provide decent support and good comfort.

On the road

While you mightn’t buy this Porsche for its outright pace, you may well buy it in the belief that some of the marque’s legendary sports car suspension smarts will have trickled down. And you’d be right, because the Macan is the class benchmark when it comes to dynamics.

Porsche has done an impressive job of dialling in just enough discipline to ensure the Macan feels controlled and well connected to the road, but avoided making it so taut for Aussie conditions that it’s punishing to drive.

Even riding as it does on those big and devilishly-handsome 20-inch wheels, the Macan manages to blot out all but the worst road blemishes, making it an easy car to live with across a variety of road conditions.

Where the Macan really shines, however, is in the quality of its steering, the weight and feel of which are just right and rarely found in the SUV genre. The combination of accurate steering, disciplined body control and strong all-wheel-drive grip mean you can drive the Macan with proper enthusiasm and feel rewarded for the experience.

In summary

For many of us, Porsche ownership is a bucket-list item we hope to achieve some day. The Macan brings that dream closer to fruition for more people than ever before. Accept that it’s not a 911, a Cayman or even a Boxster, and enjoy the Macan for what it is – a compact SUV with great looks, great handling and a badge on its snout that grants access to a very exclusive automobile club.

Ged Bulmer

Executive Traveller motoring correspondent Ged Bulmer is one of Australia's most respected motoring experts and a former editor of Wheels, Motor, WhichCar and CarsGuide

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