Porsche Macan gets a base version with a smaller engine and a lower price tag. Thankfully, there’s nothing entry-level about the way it drives.
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.