Audi SQ7 VS Porsche Macan
- Exhaust sound actuator
- Couldn’t match claimed economy
- Warranty off the pace
- Greatness made better
- Such driving thrills, for an SUV...
- Genuine Porsche personality, not just a trumped up Audi
- Lack of standard active safety gear
- Expensive options
Australians can’t get enough of big, burly, luxurious SUVs. Since the Audi SQ7 arrived here in late 2016, a laundry list of high-end, high-performance family trucksters have been refreshed, renewed, or revealed, pushing competition at the top end of the market towards boiling point.
So, after just 18 months in market, how does this brutally quick, seven-seat mothership stand up to a swag of compelling key competitors chasing upper-luxury performance SUV supremacy?
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
When Kenny Rogers gets a facelift, he does the term justice. Have you seen him lately? He’s barely recognisable. It’s probably not often that Kenny and Porsche get mentioned in the same sentence, with the legendary Country singer and iconic sports car brand sharing few parallels.
Particularly when it comes to visual enhancements, that is, with the updated Porsche Macan barely qualifying for a lunchtime Botox analogy, let alone the standard facelift jargon we use to describe a mid-life refresh.
It’s been to the gym and sharpened up its wellbeing though, in an effort to keep what’s now the Porsche brand’s most popular model competitive among a whole host of other SUV rivals that have appeared in the 4.5 years since the Macan first hit down under.
Six months after it was revealed at the Paris motor show, the new Macan and Macan S arrive in Australia this week.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Audi SQ7 is fast, beautifully built, and dynamically outstanding. It’s also practical, flexible, and loaded with useful driver assistance, media and safety tech. Can an SUV costing north of $150k be considered good value for money? Yep.
Is the Audi SQ7 your performance SUV of choice? Let us know in the comments.
The new Macan is only a smidge better in most areas, but it’s brought it up to date in most ways, but make sure you tick the option box for active cruise and AEB. That aside, it’s an astounding driver’s car for an SUV.
Given we haven’t driven the base Macan or any of the future variants yet, it’s impossible to nominate the sweet spot of the range, but the Macan S is a very good option.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
Do you wish Porsche had done more to the Macan? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, the SQ7 is large. At a little under 5.1m long, just shy of 2.0m wide and over 1.7m high, it’s a beefy bus.
But Audi has applied its cool, calm and collected design language to this expansive canvas, resulting in a neat, relatively conservative look that masks the car’s oversize proportions.
A huge version of Audi’s signature ‘single frame’ grille dominates the nose, with confident, straight character lines defining the bonnet shape and the top of the car’s flanks.
Another clue to the SQ7’s size is the fact the optional 21-inch rims fitted to our test example, sitting under gently flared arches, look (proportionally) smaller than the 16s fitted to a Mazda CX-3 Neo.
The rear broadens slightly, while the turret and glasshouse taper distinctly towards the back, and the simple rear end treatment echoes the other 'numbers' in Audi’s SUV line-up (Q3, Q5, and the soon-to-arrive Q8) - although the recently released compact Q2 breaks the mould with a chunkier, more geometric approach.
The interior is all class, with a beautifully finished, swooping dashtop rising over a compact instrument binnacle that houses Audi’s all-digital ‘Virtual Cockpit’ display. The only other interruption is the standard 8.3-inch high-res colour media screen rising proudly from the centre of the dash.
Air vents live inside a long section of horizontal lines across the face of the dash, and ‘our’ car had optional brushed metal and chrome-finish highlights underneath and across the broad centre console.
Standard ambient lighting adds subtle illumination to the centre console and door sill trims, with no less than 30 colours available.
Attention to detail in the look, feel and finish of the ‘Velcona’ leather-trimmed seats is hard to fault, and overall, it’s clear quality was a key driver here.
If you’re wanting to pick the updated Macan from the old one, it’s the full width tail-light that’s you’re biggest clue, with Porsche giving the typical “if it ain’t broke” approach to the rest of the exterior styling, despite a whole bunch of other changes under the skin and on the inside.
Aside from the rear light treatment which brings the Macan into line with Porsche’s more recent Panamera, 718 Boxster and Cayman, Cayenne and 992 911 designs, there’s also new LED headlights, subtle tweaks to the lower body details and some new wheel options rounding out the exterior differences.
But most importantly, the Macan still has that low, broad, squat stance that looks like a proper Porsche performance machine.
The Macan also now gets the same steering wheel as the 911, which is about as nice as steering wheels get, with a nice size, round shape and sexy knurled control wheels for the volume and menu controls.
There’s a whole bunch of other improvements you’d probably only notice back to back with the old car, including more aluminium in the suspension to reduce unsprung weight, completely new engine platforms and improved sound deadening for a quieter drive.
Kerb weight figures are hardly lithe though, at 1797kg and 1865kg between Macan and S.
No surprises here. There’s plenty of room inside, with heaps of breathing space for the driver and passenger, not to mention two big cupholders in the centre console, with a slot for the weighty key in-between them.
There’s also a decent glove box, a lidded storage box between the front seats, a couple of oddments trays (one covered) in the console and generous door bins with bottle holders in the doors. Connectivity is taken care of with USB and aux-in ports, as well as a 12-volt power socket.
Second-row passengers are also sorted, with ample leg and headroom. In fact, Audi claims more than a metre of space between the rear seat base and the headliner.
The centre seat is split 35/30/35, with each segment able to slide fore and aft to increase passenger and load space flexibility. Again, there are door bins with space for bottles, with other storage running to a flip-down centre armrest with twin cupholders (although they’re appreciably smaller than those in the front), and map pockets on the front seatbacks.
Standard four-zone climate control not only means there are air vents for centre row passengers (in the back of the centre console and the rear of the B-pillars), but individual temperature controls for each side of the car. Nice. Plus, there are two 12-volt power outlets back there, as well.
A simple fold-and-roll mechanism for the two outer centre-row seats minimises the acrobatic prowess required to gain access to the 50/50-split third row. As with most seven seaters, the way-back seat is tight for grown-ups but perfectly acceptable occasional accommodation for kids up to about year-nine size, with cupholders and oddments trays thrown in.
When it comes to load space, the SQ7 scores a big tick for its auto tailgate and the sheer volume of its cargo space. Even with the third-row seats upright there’s 235 litres of space available. Enough to hold the CarsGuide pram, with some room for soft bags left over.
Press the buttons on the wall of the load area and the back seats fold (electronically) to expand that number to 705 litres. More than enough to hold our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres), and the pram.
With the second and third row lowered you will have a mega 1890 litres to play with; enough to open a small shop from which you might sell luggage and prams.
The addition of tie-down anchors, a small netted pocket behind the passenger side wheel tub (complete with first-aid kit), yet another 12-volt socket, strategically placed shopping bag hooks and useful lighting push the practicality factor through the roof. The only snag is the lack of a spare wheel (of any description), a repair/inflator kit your only option in the event of a puncture.
There’s nothing new of note on the practicality front, with the usual dual cup holders front and rear, bottle holders in each door (although the rears are a bit shallow), and a useful, array of 12V and USB points scattered throughout.
The back seat is the same as before, with enough headroom and rear legroom for shorter adults like my 172cm size, and therefore plenty of room for two kids, but the sloping roofline is probably a pain for taller parents loading child seats. Speaking of which, there’s two ISOFIX mounts back there for mounting baby seats as securely as possible.
The boot space is unchanged with a pretty decent 500 litre luggage capacity, with a spacesaver spare tyre under the floor, but in my experience the sloping tailgate that gives the Macan that sexy coupe shape can make it a bit difficult to load beyond cargo cover height.
Price and features
With cost-of-entry sitting at $155,511 (before on-road costs), the SQ7 lines up against five well established, performance-luxury SUV competitors at the ‘around $150k’ price point; namely the BMW X5 M50d ($144,990), a relative newcomer in the shape of the Maserati Levante Gransport ($159,990), the Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 Coupe ($146,200), the recently renewed Porsche Cayenne S ($155,100), and the Range Rover Sport SD V8 HSE ($150,200).
So, it’s fair to expect a big basket of standard fruit, and the SQ7 doesn’t come up short.
Highlights include ‘Valcona’ leather upholstery (with S embossing on the front seat backrest), sport front seats (heated and electrically adjustable with electric lumbar support and memory for the driver), four-zone climate control air, ambient lighting, the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument display, rain-sensing wipers, a leather-covered sports steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and adaptive air suspension.
You’ll also pick up 20-inch alloy rims, Audi’s ‘Parking system plus’ (sensors front and rear with reversing camera), as well as a 360-degree camera (four wide-angle cameras covering the area immediately around the vehicle), a head-up display (in colour with speed, nav and assistance info), auto LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED tail-lights with dynamic indicators.
And before you start scoffing at those ‘show-off’ scrolling indicators, it’s worth remembering their safety value. As you’ve possibly discovered, too, in misty or foggy conditions, knowing a car up ahead on the freeway is not only changing lanes, but which direction it’s heading in is a huge plus.
But we’re not done yet, the standard features column also includes ‘Audi connect’, including an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a Bose 3D Surround Sound System (19 speakers and a 15-channel 558 watt amp), DAB+ digital radio, and ‘MMI touch’ including nav through the 8.3-inch high-res touchscreen (3D maps, voice control and free text search including handwriting recognition).
Worth noting, though, our test example was loaded with an A3 Sportback’s worth of extras, namely ‘Matrix LED’ headlights - $2200, 21-inch Audi Sport alloys - $4000, the ‘Dynamic Package’ (quattro sport differential, all-wheel steering, electromechanical active-roll stabilisation) - $13,500, a Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System - $11,340, Inlays (alternate materials) - $3800, phone box light (wireless charging) - $500, red brake calipers - $950, and premium paint (‘Sepang Blue’) - $7950 (yee-ouch!).
All of that adds up to $44,200, bringing this example within a whisker of $200k.
Pricing has also been discretely modified, with the base Macan now starting $1690 higher at $81,400, and the next rung Macan S shifting $2000 upwards to $97,500. You can calculate a drive away price here.
These are the only two updated models on the price list for now, with the range-topping Turbo tipped to arrive in 2020, and the GTS that sits between it and the S due in 2021.
Both trim levels are now in line with the Panamera and Cayenne the latest version of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) multimedia/infotainment tech with a 10.9-inch touch screen display. This includes Apple CarPlay for iPhone users, but there’s still no Android Auto.
Both Macan and Macan S standard features also include leather trim, three-zone climate control air conditioning, GPS navigation system, Bluetooth, 14-way power adjustable seats, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, Park Assist with surround-view monitors and a power tailgate.
The Macan S adds piano black interior details, aluminium scuff plates, aluminium window trims, a silver tachometer, and a digital boost pressure gauge.
Aside from its stronger engine, mechanical Macan S upgrades include bigger front brakes with an extra two pistons to total six, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive dampers, silver dual exhaust outlets on either side and one inch larger 20-inch ten spoke alloys.
Seat heaters and active cruise control will still cost you more on either Macan, but one omission I find quite surprising is that they still don’t get much in the way of active safety gear as standard. Unlike pretty much every other premium SUV on the market, you’ve got to pay extra to get AEB with the active cruise control pack.
The car we spent most of our time in, which is not the Mamba Green car pictured here, was optioned with Miami Blue paint ($5,800), panoramic sunroof ($3,790), tinted headlights with Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus ($3,410), black 21-inch Sport Classic rims ($3,330), carbon interior package ($3,080), Sport Chrono Package with mode switch ($2,790), Bose surround sound system ($2,650), black exhaust tips ($1,890), Porsche Entry & Drive ($1,690), Lane Change Assist ($1,390), tinted full width tail-lights ($1,340), and gloss black roof rails and window trims ($1,260), heated front seats ($990), Light Comfort Package ($720) and Power Steering Plus ($650). This $34,780 worth of accessories brings its total RRP to $132,280, before on-road costs.
Engine & trans
The SQ7 is powered by a 4.0-litre, double overhead cam, 90-degree, twin-turbo diesel V8 producing a maximum of 320kW (429hp) from 3750–5000rpm, and 900Nm across a broad plateau of just 1000rpm up to 3250rpm (perfectly placed for peak power to take over at 3750rpm).
Featuring common-rail, direct-injection and variable valve lift (on the exhaust side), the engine gets its added oomph from twin, sequential-charging turbos and an electric compressor (EPC) that acts like a supercharger to keep the turbos spooled up when they’re on low pressure, or completely off-boost.
It’s an amazing set-up that virtually eradicates turbo-lag, with Audi claiming the EPC can accelerate the turbos up to 70,000rpm in less than 250 milliseconds! The arrangement is powered by a 48-volt electrical sub-system delivering a peak output of up to 13kW.
The eight-speed torque converter auto transmission features a Tiptronic function for manual changes via the main selector or wheel-mounted shift paddles.
Drive goes to all four wheels via Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive with asymmetric torque split and self-locking centre diff. Default drive distribution is 40 front/60 rear, with up to 85 per cent able to go to the rear, and 70 per cent to the front axle as required.
The biggest mechanical news so far is that there’s no more diesel, along with all Porsche models, and the Macan S’s 3.0-litre petrol V6 loses one turbo in favour of a single, but more high tech, twin scroll unit.
This engine is already found in the Panamera, Cayenne and several Audi models.
For Macan S it means an extra 10kW more power and 20Nm more torque over the old version to now total 260kW between 5400-6400rpm, and 480Nm available between an impressively broad 1360-4800rpm.
This has knocked just a tenth off the 0-100km/h claim, which is now 5.1s in Sport Plus mode with the Sport Chrono Package optioned.
The base Macan’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine specs are unchanged, with 185kW available from 5000-6800rpm and 370Nm between 1600-4500rpm, with it’s 0-100km/h 6.7s 0-100km/h claim remaining.
The seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission continues as the sole transmission available with either Macan, but has been recalibrated to suit the new engine in the Macan S.
The Porsche Traction Management (PTM) active all-wheel drive system continues to send power to all four wheels in either Macan grade.
Both versions have been prepared for towbar fitment, and carry maximum braked towing capacity of 2000kg and 2400kg for the Macan and Macan S respectively.
There’s still no sign of a plug-in hybrid or EV Macan, with the second-generation Macan set to at least offer an all-electric version in around 2023.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 7.2 litres per 100 km, emitting 190g/km of CO2 in the process. They would be outstanding figures for a hefty, high-performance, seven-seat SUV.
Even with the help of the SQ7’s standard stop-start system, over roughly 300km of city, suburban and freeway driving we couldn’t match the claimed number, recording 11.3L/100km (at the bowser). And speaking of filling up, you’ll need 85 litres of diesel to brim the tank.
With the diesel gone, you shouldn’t expect the Macan to set any benchmarks here, but the base Macan still carries a reasonable 7.4L/100km official combined fuel economy claim. The Macan S’s 8.9L figure is even more impressive given its performance advantage, however.
Both engines require top-shelf 98 RON Premium Unleaded to do their best, and their 75-litre fuel tank capacity suggests theoretical ranges between fills of 1013km and 842km for the Macan and S respectively.
With every one of its 900Nm available from just 1000rpm, the SQ7 feels like an erupting volcano from step-off. Audi claims 0-100km/h in 4.9sec, and there’s no doubt it’s properly quick. No 2.4-tonne SUV has a right to accelerate this fast, and the mid-range thrust is formidable, too.
And when it comes to transferring that forward thrust into lateral grip, the SQ7 pulls off a better than passing impression of a much smaller, lighter, lower vehicle.
The electrically-assisted steering delivers satisfying road feel, and the standard air suspension (working in parallel with a five-link independent set-up front and rear) manages to combine excellent ride comfort with impressive body control (thanks in no small part to electromechanical active roll stabilisation) and cornering accuracy.
In ‘enthusiastic’ cornering, grip from the (optional) 21-inch 285/40 Continental ContiSportContact rubber is tenacious, without any discernible penalty in terms of noise or harshness at lower speeds.
The eight-speed torque converter auto transmission features a Tiptronic function for manual changes via the main selector or wheel-mounted shift paddles. It’s quick and smooth in auto mode, and shifts rapidly in the manual setting.
The front sports seats are as comfortable as they are grippy (how good are heated seats on cold mornings, by the way?), and the big ventilated brakes slow this big car calmly and progressively.
While it may not bother you, one thing I’m not a fan of is the sound actuator in the exhaust system. The SQ7 sounds gruff and grunty, more like a petrol V8, but that’s because the system is modifying the noises. It’s like (spoilers) learning Santa Clause isn’t real. Once you know, things are never the same.
This is where it gets good. I’m yet to meet a performance SUV that surpasses the need for a qualifier at the end of every element of praise for its driving attributes to the tune of “for an SUV.”
But in my opinion, the Macan is the closest, with its relatively low body and broad stance bringing the driver closer to the centre of gravity (and action) than any I recall.
We’ve only driven the updated Macan S so far, but any Macan is likely to share the fundamentals that give it incredible stability at speed and make it genuinely good fun to drive fast.
The steering has nice feel, the wall of acceleration from the turbo engine is really good and the seven-speed PDK transmission is beautifully calibrated, particularly in the sport modes - I didn’t reach for the paddle shifters once.
If there’s one criticism of the drivetrain it’s a lack of aural theatre. Surely any Porsche with an S badge should be capable of roaring when asked, but the standard Macan S delivers little more than a muted growl. There is a sports exhaust system on the options list, but you’ll have to shell out $5,390 for it.
There was one particular run along a river bed on our drive route that strung dozens of varying radius bends together, with a mix of cambers that enabled the Macan S to truly shine. Aside from slightly accentuated fore and aft movement because of its short, but still tall body, it was almost as planted as an Audi RS 4, but with a more lively feel than I recall.
And when you’re not driving it like a Porsche, as most of us spend about 99 per cent of out time on the road, it’s still a really comfortable car. I had to look under the guards to make sure our particular example wasn’t fitted with the optional air suspension, even though it was riding on the bigger 21-inch wheels. Why can’t everyone do suspension like this?
As you’d expect, the SQ7 pulls out all stops on active safety tech, featuring ABS, EBD, ESC, ASR, as well as ‘Audi pre-sense city’ with Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection (detects impending collisions at up to 85 km/h), and ‘Attention assist’ (alert tone and visual signal if the system senses the driver’s attention may be lapsing).
There’s also an Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), adaptive cruise control with ‘Stop & Go’ function, side assist (including pre-sense rear), rear cross-traffic alert, active lane assist, and ‘Exit warning’ (detects cars and cyclists when opening doors and provides a visual warning to occupants).
Plus, you can expect the Parking system plus system, 'Park assist' (self-parking for parallel or perpendicular spaces), the 360-degree camera, and a head-up display.
But if all that isn’t enough to avoid an impact, passive safety features include airbags for the driver and front passenger, side airbags (seat-mounted for front and rear passengers), head level curtain airbags (for front and rear passengers) and an active bonnet to minimise injuries in the event of a pedestrian collision.
The current (second-gen) Q7 scored a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was assessed in late 2015. And amazingly, top tether and ISOFIX child restraint anchor points are provided for all five seating positions in the centre and rear rows.
The Macan is an excellent example of why it’s important to look past a maximum five star safety rating. It carries no safety rating from ANCAP, but five stars from Euro NCAP based on a 2014 test.
Since that test, the Macan has introduced side and curtain airbags for rear passengers, so it’s in fact safer, but the test criteria has changed significantly in the past five years.
Australian versions of the new Macan come with dual front airbags, chest side and curtain airbags for all outboard passengers, reversing cameras covering 360 degrees with Park Assist front and rear, parking sensors and lane departure warning.
As mentioned above, they’re surprisingly lacking active safety features as standard. Unlike pretty much every other premium SUV on the market, you’ve got to pay an extra $2410 to get AEB with the active cruise control pack, and a further $1390 to get Lane Change Assist as two key examples.
Audi offers a three-year/unlimited-km warranty (as well as roadside assist for the same period), which is starting to lag the market when even Ford and Holden are at five years/unlimited km now, without even thinking about Kia’s seven years and Tesla’s eight.
On the up-side, Audi also offers a three-year paint warranty, along with a 12-year rust perforation guarantee.
Maintenance is scheduled by the on-board service indicator (up to 12 months/15,000km), and a three-year/45,000km ‘Audi Service Plan’ fixed-price service plan is available for $1900.
The Macan is covered by Porsche's standard three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is par for the course among premium brands, but lags behind the five-year-plus terms offered by most mainstream manufacturers these days. An extended warranty of up to 15 years can be arranged through Porsche, at a price.
Service intervals are a generous 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, but Porsche does not offer capped-price servicing to take the guesswork out of service costs or maintenance costs.
If there are any common problems or complaints, reliability issues or faults, they’ll likely appear on our Porsche Macan problems page.
You can calculate the Macan’s projected resale value via our Price and Specs page.