- 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.
2017 Porsche Macan
The styling cues from the larger Cayenne work better on this smaller package.
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.
We give it an 8 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
From the outside, the cues from the Cayenne just work better on the shorter span of body the Macan affords. That's unusual because 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. The hood 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 as well as the Audi Q5. At the rear end, the Macan's faster rear glass gives it a more athletic look. The rear end's 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. The new base model has matte black window surrounds, black brake calipers, and unique dual exhaust pipes finished in stainless steel. The GTS gets window trim finished in gloss black, a matte finish on the lower body, 20-inch wheels finished in satin black, and matte black inserts on the doors.
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. Piano black is the trim for the new back model. You can have full leather trim and a leather key pouch—the Macan has a relentless list of pay-up touches.
2017 Porsche Macan
Road manners are sharp for a crossover, perhaps the sharpest, but you can't get the Porsche sports car feel in the Macan.
The Porsche Macan offers performance that defies the usual surly SUV bonds to the Earth. It's worth a 9 on our performance scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
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, which is available between 1,600 and 4,500 rpm. 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 quotes a 6.1-second 0 to 60 mph time when equipped with the optional Sport Chrono Package, which features a stopwatch gauge and launch control. The base model's top speed is 142 mph.
We haven't driven the base model yet, but the power seems like it is more than adequate. We will report on it when we get some time behind the wheel.
The Macan S gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 340 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. Porsche pegs 0-60 mph runs at 5.2 seconds, and reports a governed top speed of 156 mph. The optional Sport Chrono package brings quicker shifts and throttle tip-in, both of which help to cut two tenths of a second off the 0-60 mph time. That makes for a keen number in a car that weights more than 4,100 pounds. With or without the Sport Chrono package, the Macan S builds speed swiftly, and its 7-speed dual-clutch doesn't dither during shifts.
The Macan GTS 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. We also haven't driven the GTS.
In any Macan, the steering is responsive, without the usual SUV dead spots. The Macan handles beautifully, settling briskly into corners, powering out with a flicker of torque to the outside wheel. In normal driving modes, the Macan is truly relaxed. 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
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.
It's not just the added power, though the Macan Turbo's extra horsepower does make a big difference. Porsche pumps up the V-6's displacement to 3.6 liters, pushing horsepower to 400 and torque to 406 lb-ft. The Turbo can launch to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, or 4.4 seconds with Sport Chrono. The top speed is 165 mph.
The acceleration times of the S and the Turbo don't differ more than a second, but real-world response is significantly different. A dip into the Turbo's 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 note.
All Macans ride on standard 19-inch, 55-series staggered tires, 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 any wheels and tires, It's almost impossible to get the Macan Turbo flustered. It's at home on winding roads or even a racetrack. 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. They are upsized a half-inch in front on the GTS and Turbo to 14.2-inch rotors with six-piston calipers.
All Macans have an off-road mode that reprograms 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 a Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. All Macan buyers can opt to swap out the steel coil suspension for air springs with adaptive shocks, opening up a wider range of all-terrain ability. 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.
2017 Porsche Macan
Comfort & Quality
The Macan is roomier than its Audi Q5 cousin and almost as spacious as the Cayenne. That makes it easy to live with in urban driving.
The Porsche Macan represents the next wave of mid-size SUVs from the VW empire. It's related to the Audi Q5, but it's longer, wider, and lower than that vehicle. It's not the biggest SUV, but it's a useful one--worth a 7 on our ratings scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Even though it's six inches shorter than the Cayenne, on a wheelbase some 3.5 inches shorter, it's nearly as spacious inside as the Cayenne, and more roomy than the Audi. It can easily tote four adults, or up to five passengers.
In front, 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, as the doors have deep bottle pockets, and the Macan's center console is more generously sized than that of many German SUVs.
Front occupants sit on 8-way power-adjustable seats, which can be upgraded to 18-way adjustments. Those terrific 18-way seats have thick lumbar and side bolstering, and can be heated and cooled.
Rear-seat head room and knee room are where the Macan fades in comparison to the Cayenne. The bottom cushion is low and short, adult knees will make contact with the front seatbacks if they are holding six-footers, and the sunroof puts the headliner to the heads of big back-seaters. It's not a huge difference in space, though, and it gives the Cayenne room and incentive to grow.
The rear bench splits 40/20/40 so that a slim middle section folds independently to create an armrest. All three sections fold down to expand the cargo space to 53 cubic feet. With the rear seat up, there's 17.7 cubic feet of space. There's storage below the cargo floor, the liftgate is power operated, and the available air suspension has a low mode for easier cargo loading.
2017 Porsche Macan
While Porsche offers plenty of safety technology, there is no crash-test data to give owners peace of mind.
The Macan offers the usual set of expected safety features and options. Standard safety features include the requisite airbags, stability control, all-wheel drive, a rearview camera, and lane departure warnings.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has crash-tested the Porsche Macan. We'll update once data is available, but until then, we're taking a mulligan on rating its safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
On the options list are 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.
2017 Porsche Macan
A new 4-cylinder Macan brings the starting price under $50,000, but our favorite versions hit the roof at more than $80,000.
The 2017 Porsche Macan is offered in four models: base, S, GTS, and Turbo. All are well equipped and the base model starts below $50,000, but the top models are priced to 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.
It deserves a 10 for feature availability alone, though we cringe every time we spec one out to our tastes. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Macan base model comes standard with bi-xenon headlights, 8-way power front seats, leather and Alcantara seat upholstery, the Porsche Communication Management (PCM system, piano black interior trim, and all-wheel drive.
The GTS comes standard with the otherwise optional air suspension and adaptive dampers, as well as a 10 mm lower ride height. Inside, it has sport seats with alcantara inserts and GTS logos on the headrests.
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 navigation, mobile connectivity, a fantastic 16-speaker Burmester sound system, distinctive leather and suede trims for the interior, carbon-fiber trim for the interior and exterior, adaptive and air suspensions, summer tires, bigger wheels and tires, and off-road packages.
There's a separate subset of safety options, including blind-spot monitors, lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control.
With such a variety of options available, we suggest going with a middle position. 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. The GTS would also be a good way to go. Choose everything and a Macan Turbo can easily pass the $100,000 mark. This vehicle is nice, but it's just not worth that kind of money.
2017 Porsche Macan
The 4-cylinder offers decent fuel economy, but the V-6s can't surpass 19 mpg combined, which isn't a surprise given their 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 thriftiest choice is the new base model with its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It is EPA rated at 20 mpg city, 25 highway, 22 combined.
V-6 versions of the Macan—the Macan S, GTS, and Turbo—compare 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.
The Macan S and Turbo are all rated at 17/23/19. The figures are identical because the upgrade to the Turbo involves only a small increase in displacement, using the same transmission and all-wheel-drive system. The GTS does not have ratings yet, but we expect it to match the other two V-6s.