As an instrument of driving joy, the Porsche Macan is a whole different kind of special. It’s no mean feat achieving the title of Best Driving SUV in the World, but that’s just what we dubbed it when we first drove it in India back in August 2014. It’s not so much a sporty SUV as it is a somewhat tall sportscar. Porsche has done this by taking the Audi Q5 as a base and then promptly re-engineering it to the point of no recognition. And all that praise, believe it or not, was heaped on the diesel version! Good as Porsche’s 241bhp, 3.0-litre oil burner is, if we’re going to compare this to a sportscar, it should have a petrol engine, right? In the Indian line-up, the only petrol variant is the Turbo. Yes, I know, all Macans are turbocharged, but only the most powerful versions of Porsche’s cars get the privilege of wearing the Turbo badge, so this one has a lot to live up to.
395bhp 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 serves up all of its grunt instantly and then relentlessly.
It starts by packing in a large 3.6-litre V6 with two turbochargers strapped to it, a powertrain that is unique to the Macan. 395bhp and 56.1kgm is the result, and Porsche claims that’s good for 0-100kph in 4.6sec. It may be a relatively compact SUV, but it still weighs 1.9 tonnes, which makes that time just incredible.The engine and AWD system may take much of the credit for that, but you have to also acknowledge the brilliant seven-speed PDK dual-clutch auto; no slushbox like you get in the Cayenne. Sure, you might have to put up with the odd stutter from the gearbox when you’re just ambling, but let’s face it, you’re rarely going to amble in one of these. Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus are your driving mode options, and this alters not just the powertrain, but the steering, suspension stiffness and ride height too – unlike the Cayenne, where they can all be controlled independently. At anything more than half throttle, this thing just flies, accompanied by a slightly stifled growl. In full Sport Plus, it feels properly manic, and more akin to a 911 Turbo than a Cayenne Turbo – which is really saying something!
That’s because, unlike the Cayenne which feels big and heavy despite the intense acceleration, this one just doesn’t feel its size. It’s like a chunky, AWD hot hatchback with a seemingly endless power supply. And that’s true of the way it behaves in corners too. Hunkered down as it is in Sport Plus, there’s a bewildering lack of body roll, or any drama at all for that matter. You’d have to be seriously reckless with the throttle through a bend if you want to unsettle it, so immense is the grip. The steering, at least in this mode, is just so crisp, quick and pinpoint accurate. And I’m not sure how Porsche does it, but like the Cayenne, this thing does all this while also being able to ride really comfortably. Yes, there’s a bit of a stiff edge, but you can only feel it on the worst of roads at low speeds. The rest of the time, it just steamrolls everything.
As with all its models these days, the Macan Turbo’s base price doesn’t give you a stripped out car onto which you have to add basic equipment from the options list. You do get a good amount of standard kit; in fact there’s a bit more than even the diesel car, including the amazing 18-way adjustable sports front seats. But this is a Porsche, so you can still go much further with options, like the 20-inch wheels – not necessary on a sensible diesel, but on a Turbo, why not. You also get a more aggressive front bumper and square, rather than round, tailpipes.
As before, the elephant in the room is the price. At Rs 1.11 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi), it’s Rs 11 lakh more than the already exorbitant Diesel S. When you consider that luxury SUVs of a similar size cost almost half as much, you might cringe a little. But this is the greatest handling SUV in the world, remember? And if you’re going all-out with the Turbo, it means that practicality certainly isn’t your consideration. What you’re getting for your money is a true-blue (literally, in this case) sportscar that can also go anywhere. And yes, it has earned the badge on its boot.