- 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.
2016 Porsche Macan
The Porsche Macan offers no styling surprises outside, a parliament of buttons and switches inside.
The Porsche Macan shares many of the angles, curves, and cues of the larger Cayenne, but the combination of a smaller size, a more dramatic slope to its roof, and body-side sculpting make it the better-looking of the duo.
Inside, the Macan's easily identified as a Porsche, thanks to a plethora of controls. The Macan's cabin is smothered in buttons and switches, not incomprehensible screens, and it feels as appropriate as the left-mounted ignition. At least a dozen buttons flank either side of the shift lever. There is a central screen, but it hosts secondary controls—the primary functions represent in the gauge binnacle, with a high-resolution screen in the right pod serving as a redundant display.
A simple black-and-gray scheme gives way on more polished Macan SUVs, which wear aluminum or carbon-fiber or dark walnut trim. You can have Alcantara seat inserts, full leather trim, a leather key pouch—the Macan has a relentless list of pay-up touches.
From the outside, the Macan takes its resemblance to the bigger Porsche SUV as a challenge. The cues from the Cayenne just work better on the shorter span of body the Macan affords—and that's unusual, since it usually works the other way around. The massive strakes and front-end air intakes of the Cayenne scale down nicely to fit the Macan's front end—and the hood itself only has cutouts for the big headlights. It drapes over the front corners of the vehicle, taking the place of separate stampings, giving the front end a finely finished look.
There's more generic crossover-SUV handsomeness in the side profile, where the Macan most closely resembles the Cayenne and even the Audi Q5—that is, until it reaches the rear end, where the smaller Porsche's faster rear glass gives it a more athletic look. The rear end's simple and spare, with LED taillights banded slimly on the wraparound tailgate.
Spotters can pick out body-color brackets on the front air intakes on the Macan Turbo, and gray-metallic ones on the Macan S, unless they've been replaced with optional carbon-fiber inserts. It's easier at the rear, where the Macan S has four round exhaust outlets, and the Turbo four squared-off tips.
2016 Porsche Macan
All Macans offer sharp sport-utility road manners, but the classic Porsche driving experience requires the Macan Turbo.
The Porsche Macan offers performance that defies the usual surly SUV bonds to the earth. And even though the Macan S offers road manners above and beyond those of just about any utility vehicle, the Macan Turbo is another thing entirely, offering scalding acceleration, effortless grip, and impeccable balance.
The entry-level Macan S draws its thrust from a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 340 horsepower. Porsche's 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is standard, and so is all-wheel drive, set for a power bias to the rear wheels. Porsche pegs 0-60 mph runs at 5.2 seconds, and dials in a governed top speed of 156 mph. By topping off the Macan S with a Sport Chrono package, drivers get quicker transmission shifts and throttle tip-in—and a sport-'ute with 0-60 mph acceleration in 5 seconds. That's a keen number for a car that weights more than 4,100 pounds, neck and neck with SUVs like the turbocharged V-6 BMW X3 and the Audi SQ5.
Handling is exceptional. The Macan S builds speed swiftly, and its 7-speed dual-clutch doesn't dither during shifts. The steering is responsive, without the usual SUV dead spots. And yet, in normal driving modes, the Macan is truly relaxed. It handles beautifully, settling briskly into corners, powering out with a flicker of torque to the outside wheel. We'd still upgrade it with optional, three-mode adaptive shocks, a torque-vectoring system to help tighten cornering lines, and that Sport Chrono package for something closer to the full Porsche effect.
Porsche Macan Turbo performance
But for the ultimate connection to Porsche's sports cars, the Macan Turbo is the only way to steer.
It's not just the added power, though the Macan Turbo's 60 extra horsepower make a big difference. Porsche 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 165 mph.
The acceleration times of the S and the Turbo don't differ more than a second, but the perception of speed in the Turbo is vastly different. A bare dip into the throttle opens up Amtrak-sized spans between the driver and the car left in the dust behind. All the while, the Turbo pops off plenty of wastegate noise and a deep-throated exhaust.
It's almost impossible to get the Macan Turbo flustered, even if said Macan is riding on all-season tires. All Macans ride on standard 19-inch, 55-series tires staggered 235/55 front, 255/50 rear. Wheels can be sized up to 21 inches, or downsized to an 18-inch lightweight design at no cost. With either set, it's at home on the track or on winding roads that get you there. Yank it into a steep right-hander, and it falls into line, complying with a bare second of tire noise. Paddle down, and crank out of a corner, hopping curbs to save a hundredth of a second, and it resets itself, shuffling torque to the outside wheel, passing briefly through a mild stage of understeer.
Massive brakes are the picture of confidence—upsized a half-inch in front on Turbos to 14.2-inch rotors, and 1.2 inches to 14.0 inches in back, all with six-piston front calipers.
The most expensive Macans swap out the steel coil suspension for air springs coupled to the adaptive shocks, opening up a wider range of all-terrain ability. All Macans have an off-road mode that diddles with shifting patterns and torque distribution, up to 50 mph. And with 7.8 inches of ground clearance and hill-descent control, the Macan S will trundle through mud pits with the aplomb of an Evoque. The bonus of those air springs is an additional 1.58 inches for more than 9 inches of ground clearance when needed. The air suspension will also drop the Macan 0.59 inches for aerodynamic smoothness at high speeds, or nearly two inches in a luggage-loading mode. If there's a line you must draw in the options sand, it's probably here.
2016 Porsche Macan
Comfort & Quality
The Macan is just a bit less spacious than the Cayenne, but it's more usable in urban driving—albeit not by much.
The Porsche Macan represents the next wave of mid-size SUVs from the VW empire. Lower than the big Cayenne, it's longer and wider and lower, too, than the Audi Q5—a vehicle with which it shares some body structure.
Comparing the Macan and the Q5 on the spec sheet, the Macan is 185 inches long (3.4 inches longer than the Audi), though it rides on an identical wheelbase (110.5 inches). The Porsche is 75.7 inches wide (an inch wider than the Q5), but it's only 63.9 inches tall (1.3 inches lower than the Audi).
By comparison, it's 6 inches shorter than the Cayenne, on a wheelbase some 3.5 inches shorter. Those dimensions are somewhat misleading, as the Macan is nearly as spacious as the Cayenne, and more roomy than the Audi. It can easily tote four adults, or up to five passengers.
In front, the Macan offers eight-way power-adjustable leather seats, which can be upgraded to 18-way adjustment in the Macan S. (The 18-way seats are standard on the Turbo.) Those terrific 18-way seats have thick lumbar and side bolstering, and can be fitted with ventilation and heating control.
Between the driver and front passenger, a console stacked with controls walls off the driver from the front passenger, its two-dozen-plus buttons flagrantly bucking the trend to touchscreen all the things. The utility part of the equation is executed well, despite the sea of switches: Doors have deep bottle pockets, and the Macan's center console is more generously sized than in many German SUVs.
Rear-seat head room and knee room are where the Macan fades in the Cayenne comparisons. The bottom cushion is low and short, still ample for adults to use—but adult knees will make contact with the front seatbacks holding 6-footers, and the sunroof puts the headliner to the heads of big back-seaters. It's not a huge change in space though, and it gives the Cayenne room and incentive to grow.
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 flat, it's 53 cubic feet. There's storage below the cargo floor, the tailgate's power-operated, and with the air suspension, the Macan has a low mode for easier cargo loading.
2016 Porsche Macan
There's an extensive array of safety technology available inside, but the Porsche Macan has no crash-test history.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has put the Porsche Macan through the punishing crash tests that determine how safe it is for drivers and passengers.
The Macan S and Macan Turbo have the expected safety features and options. Along with the requisite airbags, stability control, and standard all-wheel drive, the Macan also gets standard Bluetooth and a rearview camera.
On the options list are lane-keeping alerts, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control.
We'd like to see a set of standard parking sensors and available surround-view cameras. As slim as its pillars seem in the front, the rear pillars on the Macan are thick, and outward vision to the rear isn't that great.
2016 Porsche Macan
A base Porsche Macan has a somewhat reasonable base price—but our favorite versions hit the roof at more than $80,000.
Sure, it's well-equipped, but the Porsche Macan's base price will give any luxury-car buyer pause. Add on trim levels and options from Porsche's gargantuan list of accessories, and the price passes a staggering benchmark.
All the features you'd expect come standard on the base Macan. For about $52,000, you get leather upholstery; all-wheel drive; power heated front seats; Bluetooth; a power tailgate; and a rearview camera.
From that starting point, the race to the stratosphere takes only a few steps. Opt into the fantastic Macan Turbo and you're in for at least the mid-$70,000s—and that's before you select from the dizzying array of options, including adaptive and air suspensions; summer tires; bigger wheels; distinctive leather and suede trims for the interior; carbon-fiber trim for the interior and exterior; off-road packages; navigation; mobile connectivity; and a fantastic 16-speaker Burmester sound system. There's a separate subset of safety options, including blind-spot monitors, lane-keeping alerts, and adaptive cruise control.
We'd settle for a middle position, if we were trying to stick to a budget. A Macan S with navigation, a panoramic roof, three-mode shocks, torque vectoring, the Sport Chrono package, aluminum trim, and Bose audio, can be had for the mid-$60,000s. Go all-in and a Macan Turbo can easily pass the $100,000 mark.
2016 Porsche Macan
No Macan earns more than 19 mpg combined, no surprise given its sheer power.
Gas mileage in the Porsche Macan is low, even for its size—but that's to be expected, considering the power on tap.
The EPA rates the Porsche Macan S and Macan Turbo both at 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 combined. The figures are identical, since the upgrade to the Turbo involves only a small increase in displacement, using the same transmission and all-wheel-drive system.
The Macan compares well with the Audi SQ5, which offers roughly the same power-to-weight ratio as the Macan S. The Audi is pegged at 17/24/19 mpg.
There had been plans for a Macan turbodiesel to enter the Porsche lineup after the 2015 model year, but the current VW diesel-emissions scandal has likely postponed or cancelled those plans.