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In the grand scheme of Porsche as a brand, an SUV like the Macan is as controversial as it is inevitable.
I mean, we’re talking about a brand with a fan-base which turned its nose up at the entire concept of water cooling, let alone having the Stuttgart crest defiled with a bloated SUV body.
The march of time and changing tastes of the world have had their way with Porsche though, and the reality is, if those fans still want to see the iconic 911 continue much further into the future, they’ll just have to accept the only reason the storied automaker can stay alive at all is because of SUVs like the Cayenne, and the car tested here, the Macan.
Is it all bad news though? Does the Macan earn the Porsche badge? Would you really sit one next to a 911 in an all-Porsche garage? We took a second-from-the-top GTS to find out…
|Porsche Macan 2020: GTS|
|Engine Type||2.9L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Price does not matter to Porsche buyers. This isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s simple fact as confirmed by the brand’s 911 boss, Frank Steffen-Walliser, who told us recently: not only are Porsche acolytes happy to pay the tall prices set, but they tend to dive deeply into the options catalogue while they’re at it.
So then, it seems far from cynical that our Macan GTS which wears an MSRP of $109,700 also had $32,950 worth of options fitted for a grand total (sans on-road costs) of $142,650.
Much of what you pay for at GTS trim is the walloping 2.9-litre V6 drivetrain, which we’ll explore later, but the price puts our Macan in the luxo-performance SUV ballpark of the Maserati Levante GranSport ($144,990), Jaguar F-Pace SVR ($140,262), and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrofoglio ($149,900).
What’s in the box? You’ve got headline items like active suspension management (ours had the additional self-levelling function and 15mm lowered ride height - $3100), 20-inch alloys in satin black, sports exhaust, LED headlights (this car had the tinted ‘Plus’ light system - $950) and tail-lights, 10.9-inch multimedia touchscreen with DAB+ digital radio, built-in nav, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support (ours also had the Bose surround stereo - $2470), full leather seat trim (ours was in ‘Carmine Red with Alcantara highlights - $8020 with a heated GT steering wheel - $1140 and heated front seats - $880), silver and brushed aluminium interior trim (again, ours also had the carbon package - $1770).
A lot of gear then. But there’s more, not surprisingly, optional stuff. Power Steering Plus is $550, the Sport Chrono Package (lap timing stuff with the cool analog wrist-watch dash element) is $2390, the panoramic opening sunroof is $3370, keyless entry system is $1470, lane change assist is $1220, Light Comfort Package is $650, and, finally, the red exterior paint to match the interior trim is a whopping $4790.
Again. Porsche buyers are the kind of people who don’t baulk at these prices to get exactly the car they want, even though some of those items are a little rudely priced, for instance, does lane change assist really need to be a $1220 option on a $109,700 car?
Regardless, at least the Macan truly feels like a Porsche on the inside with its beautiful fit, trims, and finish. It’s a far cry from a cynical VW Tiguan with a fancy body and different badgework as it so easily could have been.
The Macan was a coupe SUV before the genre really existed as it does today. A bold trailblazer? Perhaps not, but I remember it at least being far less controversial than the larger Cayenne which came before it.
It makes a bit more sense for the badge, at least dimensionally. The GTS trim is particularly macho with the gloss black highlights, fat quad exhausts, and blacked-out wheel trim helping to accentuate its low and wide profile (for an SUV…).
While the front of the Macan has had more grille space and complexity added over time, the most recent facelift really added extra appeal to the rear with the new light-strip across the back adding familiarity with the rest of the brand’s range.
Inside certainly feels a bit more claustrophobic than many SUVs in this size bracket, thanks to the visual effect of the high dash line, the raised button-laden centre console, and dark trim items.
Everything is wonderfully finished though, with leather lining running across the dash topper, nicely bolstered seats with thick leather and Alcantara trim (consider the longevity of this particular item before you tick the box…) and the slick three-spoke steering wheel, which is easily one of the best on the market, even at this tall end of the price spectrum.
There’s nothing fancy about the dial cluster, with Porsche’s modern interpretation of a classic dial design replacing the now-more-commonly-accepted whiz-bang digital dash designs.
Things like this and the basic plastic function stalks are oddities in an otherwise slick, luxurious, and modern cabin. It’s as though Porsche still wanted to have those little nods to its weight-saving, analogue history in a a two-tonne and heavily computer-assisted, performance SUV.
For an SUV I’d hardly say the Macan is a particular practicality hero. A (correct) decision has been made here to lean into the coupe sportiness of the Macan’s design, rather than the wagon touring practicality of, say, Land Rover’s Discovery Sport.
Porsche has gone to great lengths to make the Macan feel like a Porsche. This means a slightly claustrophobic cabin space, with the raised console taking up a huge amount of space, which could otherwise have been for storage. The console box and glovebox are shallow, the door trims provide only a small bin and bottle holder, there’s no extra nooks or crannies for loose items, It’s all really just built around being an engaging space for the driver and front passenger.
At least the primary cupholders are large with variable edges and a slot for your phone. Porsche has even thought to leave a tiny slot for the key and 12v power outlet to sit at the base of the huge function-centre of a console.
I hope you like USB-C because it is your only option for connectivity in the Macan. Porsche have deleted the USB 2.0 ports.
The screen is neat in the way it seamlessly integrates with the dash, and I like how big shortcut touch panels for the major functions surround the Apple CarPlay window. My complaint here, though, is similar to this car’s cousins at Audi, the screen is so high-resolution that navigating the icons within the CarPlay space can be a real pain while you’re moving.
Rear-seat passengers haven’t been forgotten with the same contoured seat trim, dual USB-C ports for phone charging, big cupholders in the drop-down centre console and their own climate control module with adjustable vents.
Legroom was okay for me at 182cm tall, but headroom was notably tight. The plastic seat backers, while great for those with kids, seemed uncharacteristically cheap, and had no storage pockets. Thanks to the tall transmission tunnel, I would not want to be a passenger in the centre seat…
Where the Macan does score points, however, is in the boot, with a whopping 488 litres of space available (expanding out to 1503L with the second row down). Not bad at all for something with such a swooping roofline, but that’s thanks to the depth of the load area. Under the floor there’s even a space-saver spare wheel.
The GTS brings a 2.9-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 to the Macan line-up, and, oh boy, is it a strong unit. On tap is an absurd 280kW/520Nm, which can propel the (two tonne, did we mention?) SUV to 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds; 4.7 seconds with the Sports Chrono package installed.
The Macan is all-wheel drive (with a variable torque-split) via Porsche’s Doppelkupplung seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Further performance enhancements come in the form of variable height and self-levelling active suspension as fitted to our car, and variable power steering tied into the drive modes, which we’ll touch on later.
As though proving this is not just another commuter SUV, the Macan is a thirsty unit.
The 2.9-litre twin-turbo is rated to consume a hardly impressive 10.0L/100km, but our weekly test had it drink 13.4L/100km.
The Macan has a large 75-litre tank, so at least you won’t be constantly filling up, and another fact which a Porsche buyer is unlikely to blink at is the fact it requires top-shelf 98RON petrol.
Safety is an odd one on the Macan.
Features which you might expect to be standard on a circa-$100,000 automobile in 2020 are optional, like auto emergency braking, which is packaged together with adaptive cruise control at a cost of $2070. (We’d argue it's well worth it if you’re already spending this much – adaptive cruise transforms freeway driving.)
Blind spot monitoring (in this case called ‘lane change assist’) is also optional at a cost of $1220, although rear cross traffic alert (which blind-spot systems are usually paired with) is absent.
The Macan has also never been assessed by ANCAP, so it has no safety stars. On the expected front it has all the electronic systems for braking, stability, and traction, as well as rollover detection, six airbags, and dual ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the outer rear seats.
The GTS also scores a surround parking system with top-down camera and lane departure warning as standard.
It’s not unusual for premium automakers to package away safety items, but it would be nice to see the inclusion of lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, and rear cross traffic systems for the Macan to be considered as one of the safer vehicles in the segment, particularly as these systems exist across the VW group.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
Porsche now lags behind with a three-year warranty which, annoyingly, still seems to be the standard with luxury automakers. Will Mercedes-Benz change the tide with its announcement it would move to a five-year warranty as is accepted by the rest of the non-premium market? Only time will tell.
I somehow doubt Porsche buyers are lining up to demand a warranty increase, and I understand that it makes a big difference to bean-counters, yet it’s still a glaring oversight when it comes to owning one of these sorts of vehicles past the three-year period.
Porsche does offer extended warranty options (up to 15 years) provided you are willing to pay a significant premium for the peace of mind.
You’ll also be left guessing on the service front, with Porsche offering no capped price service programs for its vehicles.
The Macan is stupidly fast considering its shape and weight, but you wouldn’t know it kicking around town.
Things like the fiddly dual-clutch auto, emissions-reducing stop/start system, and heavy stock steering make it a tad cumbersome in stop-start traffic and when you’re just trying to maneuver in the confines of a city.
Get out on the open road though, and the Macan comes alive. There’s the soul of a sports car in its V6 drivetrain, with lightning-fast gear shifts, dead accurate steering, aural assault from its sports exhaust, and once it’s rolling you can really start to feel the depth of capability.
Plant it, and suddenly the sub five-second 100km/h sprint time becomes quite vividly real, but what blew me away the most was the almost unreal levels of grip on offer.
Sure, it has the advantage of being heavy but ‘wow’ doesn’t quite cover the feeling this car gives when pushed in the corners. It just sticks like no other SUV I’ve driven.
If the computer’s AWD torque indicator is to be believed, the Macan routinely sends much of the drive to the thick rear tyres, helping curb the imminent understeer, or front-heavy feel which many SUVs in this class are plagued by.
The steering, once heavy at low-speed, becomes a pleasure at high speed. The weight is still there but goes from being a burden to a confidence-inducing wrestling match between you and sheer physics.
Mind you, this is all without turning the dial to Sport, or Sport +, which makes the steering even heavier, and with the suspension package fitted to our car, lowers the ride further, for seemingly unnecessary further performance cred.
And that’s the issue, really. You can’t utilise the Macan’s performance on Australian roads, and it’s not quite the right bodystyle for the track. This is the kind of car which yearns to stretch its legs on the autobahn … I couldn’t help but feel like it’s like buying a thoroughbred racing horse and chaining it up in a yard.
Porsche purists can turn their noses up all they like – there’s still enough sports car trapped in this SUV to keep any driver happy.
The Macan is much more than just another SUV with a Stuttgart badge. In fact, I think it could still well be the best performance SUV in its size bracket. At the very least, there would be no shame in parking this GTS next to a 911 in a particularly wealthy garage.
|(base)||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$84,300||2020 Porsche Macan 2020 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|GTS||2.9L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$112,300||2020 Porsche Macan 2020 GTS Pricing and Specs|
|S||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$100,800||2020 Porsche Macan 2020 S Pricing and Specs|
|Turbo||2.9L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$145,200||2020 Porsche Macan 2020 Turbo Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|