- Hot accel numbers
- Cayenne-like spec sheet
- PDK all the way
- Excellent interior space and utility
- A supreme all-arounder
- Pricing is stiff, venturing into painful
- "Five-seater" is really four
- PDK-only, if that offends you
The 2016 Porsche Macan has almost all the rippling, muscular performance of the bigger Cayenne, in a slightly more compact, slightly less expensive package.
The Porsche Macan didn't take long to become the brand's second-best-selling vehicle. It was new for the 2015 model year, and already, it's running just behind the bigger Cayenne in the dollar-denominated popularity contest.
It could eventually become the most popular Porsche model, but it has somewhat humble roots. Based on the current Audi Q5, the Macan is a spin-off that makes for a superior compact crossover SUV, one with more room and better performance than its kin.
At first glance, the Macan promises both Porsche performance and SUV practicality. That's because there's little difference in the essence of its styling from the bigger Cayenne—it's simply scaled down to more urban-friendly dimensions. The Macan wears the usual massive set of front-end intakes, but it has a quicker slope to its rear roof pillar. The rear end's simple and spare, with LED taillights barely intruding on the wraparound tailgate. Turbo models have squared-off exhaust tips, while Macan S models have round outlets.
Inside, there's a cockpit positively festooned with switches, buttons, knobs, and rockers, in the latest Porsche idiom. The broad center console connects to the dash just beneath a brightly lit LCD touchscreen, while the gauges offer a traditional pair of dials teamed with a high-resolution screen that duplicates some displays for navigation, phone, and audio. Porsche's lengthy custom-trim list leaves nothing to the imagination; virtually anything can be painted, stitched, or matched to your taste.
Performance, however, follows one of two paths on its way to injecting a little more of a performance flair into a nearly Cayenne-sized package. There's a base Macan S, powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 with 340 horsepower, all of it routed through standard all-wheel drive and a dual-clutch transmission. Porsche pegs this version at a swift 5.2 seconds in 0-60 mph runs, with a top speed of 156 mph—but adding an optional Sport Chrono package drops acceleration times to 5.0 seconds and adds its own stopwatch gauge as well as a launch-control mode.
The Macan Turbo puts the exclamation point on the SUV's performance declarations. It pumps up displacement to 3.6 liters; its V-6 can launch to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, or 4.4 seconds with Sport Chrono. Top speed is 164 mph.
There's so much going on beneath the skin as the Macan dances its pavement hustle, it bears some study. There's a traction-control system that can send torque front and rear as the need arises; there's an available torque-vectoring system, where an electronically locking differential across the rear axle gives even more precise control over power delivery. There's a set of adaptive dampers available, and on top of that, an air suspension that can lower ride height on the highway, or raise the Macan when it's dialed into off-road mode. Even there, the Macan is far more capable than it probably needs to be: it has 7.8 inches of ground clearance, which rises to just over 9 inches with the optional air suspension.
We've driven the Macan S extensively on and off road, and have found that it acquits itself just fine on all those surfaces. But it's the Turbo that truly feels worthy of the Porsche name. If any SUV could be called unflappable, the Porsche Macan Turbo can. It flows like mercury; it's almost impossible to get it flustered.
When the roadholding's been toned down, the Macan behaves like a useful family wagon. With an overall length of about 185 inches, and a 110.5-inch wheelbase, the the Macan can carry up to five passengers, but four adults will be most comfortable. Eight-way power front seats with leather trim are standard, and available on the Macan S (and standard on the Turbo) are exceptionally supportive 18-way front seats.
The Macan's rear bench splits so that a slim middle section folds independently to create an armrest. All three sections fold down to expand the cargo space and to render the Macan a two-seater, in true Porsche style. With the rear seat up, there's 17.7 cubic feet of space; seats folded, it's 53 cubic feet.
Since it's new, the Macan has no crash-test data, but it does have the expected safety features and options. Alongside airbags, stability control, and standard all-wheel drive, it also gets Bluetooth and a rearview camera. On the options list are lane-keeping alerts, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control—and a panoramic glass roof.
Along with power features, a power tailgate, and 19-inch wheels, the Macan comes standard with an 11-speaker audio system with a USB port and a 7.0-inch touchscreen display. Option one is a 14-speaker, 545-watt Bose audio system—while the spendy versions get a Burmester setup with 1,000 watts and 16 speakers.
A navigation system with a music hard drive is an option on the Macan S, and standard on the Macan Turbo. It's integrated with an infotainment system that accesses web feeds and Internet streams through the Aha Radio app. Finally, the Macan mates up with Porsche Car Connect, a mobile app that enables remote unlocking, vehicle location tracking, and other data.
Base prices start from about $52,000, but a Macan S with the features we'd like to see is more like $63,000. A Macan Turbo starts from about $73,000; with competitive features, it's $81,000. It's not that difficult to blow past $100,000 when ordering a Macan Turbo—which says to us that a little restraint may be the only thing left off the options list.
The EPA rates the Porsche Macan S and Macan Turbo both at 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 combined. That's on par with the comparable Audi SQ5, which is pegged at 17/24/19 mpg.