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- 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 2017 Porsche Macan may be smaller than the Cayenne, but it has almost all of the space and most of the rippling, muscular performance in a slightly less expensive package.
The Porsche Macan was new for the 2015 model year, and didn't take long to become the brand's best-selling vehicle. For 2017, a new 4-cylinder base model and a performance-oriented GTS model join the S and Turbo models.
Based on the 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.
On our scale, the Macan scores a 7.8 out of 10. It's an amazing performer and has oodles of features, but fuel economy isn't great—and that's actually a thing, when practicality intrudes on the Porsche performance dream. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Porsche Macan styling and performance
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 exterior wears the usual massive set of front-end intakes, but it has a quicker slope to its rear roof pillars. The rear end is spare, with LED taillights barely intruding on the wraparound tailgate.
Inside, the cockpit is positively festooned with switches, buttons, knobs, and rockers. The broad center console connects to the dash just beneath a brightly lit LCD touchscreen, and there is another screen in the instrument cluster. Porsche's lengthy custom-trim list allows almost anything to be painted, stitched, or matched to your taste.
Porsche's 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is standard on all models, and so is all-wheel drive, set for a power bias to the rear wheels. The new entry-level Macan is motivated by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder that puts out 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. When equipped with the optional Sport Chrono package, which adds a stopwatch gauge and a launch-control mode, Porsche quotes a 6.1-second 0 to 60 mph time. The top speed is 142 mph.
Next up the ladder is the Macan S, powered by a 340-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6. Porsche pegs 0 to 60 mph at a swift 5.2 seconds, or 5.0 seconds with the Sport Chrono package. Top speed is 156 mph.
The Macan GTS, added in spring 2016, ups the 3.0-liter V-6 to 360 horsepower, cutting the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.8 seconds and raising the top speed to 159 mph.
The Macan Turbo feels closest to Porsche sports car roots. 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.
The Macan S is quite fun, but if any SUV could be called unflappable, the Porsche Macan Turbo is it. It flows like mercury; it's almost impossible to get it flustered.
There's a lot going on beneath the skin as the Macan dances its pavement hustle. It offers a torque-vectoring system, with an electronically locking differential across the rear axle that gives precise control over power delivery. Porsche offers an optional set of adaptive dampers, and on top of that, an air suspension can lower ride height on the highway, or raise the Macan when it's dialed into off-road mode.
Speaking of off-roading, 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 off road, and found that it acquits itself just fine.
Macan utility, features, and safety
For those in the cabin, the Macan behaves like a useful family wagon. It can carry up to five passengers, but four adults will be most comfortable. Eight-way power front seats are standard, and exceptionally supportive 18-way front seats are available.
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.
The Macan has no crash-test data, but it does have the expected safety features and options. A rearview camera and a lane departure warning system are standard, and the options list offers blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control.
Standard equipment includes bixenon headlights, leather and alcantara seat upholstery, the Porsche Communication Management system, a power tailgate, and 19-inch wheels. It also has a standard 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 standard on the Macan Turbo. It's integrated with an infotainment system that accesses web feeds and Internet streams through the Aha Radio app. The Macan also mates up with Porsche Car Connect, a mobile app that enables remote unlocking, vehicle location tracking, and other data.
Base prices start from about $48,000, but a Macan S with the features we'd like to see is more like $63,000. A Macan Turbo starts from about $74,000; 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. The new base model comes in at a slightly better 20/25/22 mpg.