What is it?
This is the Porsche Macan. Period. There’s no suffix, no number and no code after the product name. It’s the base Macan and the new entry point to the SUV’s line-up and, in fact, Porsche’s entire India range. And that’s thanks to its price tag. At Rs 76.84 lakh (ex-showroom, Maharashtra), the Macan is roughly Rs 30 lakh cheaper than the next Macan, the S Diesel. What’s helped bring down the price is the relatively humble engine under the hood. It’s a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbo-petrol unit. It’s important to bring up that this is an in-line engine and should not to be confused with Porsche’s own flat four on the new 718 Boxster.
Engine aside, this Macan is no different than its better-endowed siblings. The part-SUV, the part-coupe look is distinctly Porsche and, though there are similarities to the Cayenne upfront, if not the lower height, it’s the Macan’s ‘tiger claw’ vents on the bumper that help identify this as the smaller model. The 18-inch rims are a standard fit, but you can upsize to 21-inchers too, for a significantly larger amount. Also, part of the extensive paid options list is LED headlights, custom paints, roof rails, body kits and even painted logos.
What’s it like on the inside?
The setting inside the Macan’s high-quality cabin is very business-like. The dashboard is typical Porsche, so the centre console is a mass of buttons with a dedicated switch for virtually every feature on board. It seems a bit intimidating at first, but you quickly get used to the layout. Thankfully, the touchscreen and navigation system are part of standard equipment but, like any other Porsche, your options tally can easily run into lakhs. A panoramic sunroof and the Sport Chrono package bundled with launch control, are some of the options you should be interested in. You’d also probably end up ticking the one that reads 'Comfort Memory Seats' when you learn the stock set-up includes a manual adjustment for the front passenger chair. For their part, the standard front seats are comfortable and supportive. The rear seat is also well-shaped but space is down on most SUVs of this size. Then, again, if it’s the rear seat experience you are most concerned about, you are looking at the wrong SUV.
What’s it like to drive?
As mentioned, the Macan uses a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol unit. Before you write it off, know that the engine makes 252hp and 370Nm. The horsepower figure actually betters the S Diesel’s 245hp, though the diesel’s 580Nm is way higher. Still, the performance numbers are quite revealing.
With launch control engaged, the Macan charges to 100kph from a standstill in a very satisfactory 6.6 seconds. Interestingly enough, that’s 0.1 seconds better than what we managed with the Macan S Diesel. In fact, acceleration up to 180kph and, in kick down, is near identical to the diesel version. It’s 110kg lighter than the diesel and that undoubtedly helps its case. Even away from the drag strip, the Macan feels quick and athletic. Flooring the throttle won’t result in neck-snapping acceleration, but that gentle push back into your seat happens. The Macan is quick to build speed, though the mid-range is where the action really begins. There on, the engine pulls all the way to 6500 rpm and beyond, with a sporty, if slightly muted, snarl giving a nice soundtrack. The 7-speed PDK dual-clutch and its quick shifts (manually actuated via the paddles or gear lever) are integral to the Macan’s brisk performance, but upshifts aren’t imperceptibly smooth at max attack.
It’s a good engine-gearbox package that manages to compliment the Macan’s outstanding handling. The quick turn-in, the precision of the steering, the balance of the set-up and even the way it brakes just elevates the Macan into a different league. The clever all-wheel-drive system (it can send up to 100 percent torque to either axle) ensures there’s always immense reserves of grip while the standard adjustable dampers do their bit to keep the Macan settled and composed at all times. Ride quality is also a highlight with suspension and high-profile 18-inch tyres easily absorbing most of what our roads can throw at them. What’s also impressive is that you won’t need to shy away from off-road tracks either. The stock tyres provide reasonable grip, the all-wheel-drive system supplies the requisite power and you can even raise ride height by 40mm to clear obstacles.
Should I buy one?
We’ve been critical of the Macan range’s price in the past, so the lower price tag on this version of the SUV certainly makes big amends. However, the Macan is still not a cheap SUV by any standard and continues to score low on the price-to-size ratio. But seeing a Macan as just any other luxury SUV is missing the point. This is a sports SUV in the true sense, yet one that also gets you all the practicality and comfort of a mid-size luxury SUV. If you drive yourself and can stomach the price, the base Macan could make you very happy indeed.