Car reviews - Porsche - Macan
Sharp steering, punchy turbo-petrol engine, practicality, in-cabin fit and finish
Room for improvement
Options can drive up cost, high fuel consumption levels around town, lack of autonomous emergency braking
Can the base Porsche Macan deliver more than just basic spec and basic performance?
25 Jul 2018
PORSCHE’S Macan crossover was an instant sell-out when it was launched in 2014. The initial range was powered exclusively with six-cylinder engines, but Porsche now offers a more-affordable, four-cylinder version that should bring even more buyers to the brand.
Does a cut-price Macan also compromise Porsche’s sporting characteristics and premium build?
*Note: Some images of the international Macan have been used in this road test.
Price and equipment
The entry-level Macan is priced at $80,110 before on-roads – more than $15,000 less than the previous base S version that retails for $95,900 – making it the most-affordable Porsche offered in Australia.
If the Macan seems affordable, it’s because it is, staying close in price to petrol-powered premium mid-size SUV competitors such as the BMW X3 xDrive30i ($76,900), Mercedes-Benz GLC250 ($71,600), Range Rover Velar Si4 250 S ($81,762) and Jaguar F-Pace Prestige ($82,315).
Porsche hasn’t skimped on equipment to lower the price either, with standard gear including front and rear part assist, a reversing camera, 19-inch wheels, Alcantara seats, three-zone climate control, digital radio, tyre-pressure monitoring system and satellite navigation.
Our test car rang up the till to a total of $88,920 thanks to a $5390 sports exhaust, $1990 metallic paint, $720 comfort lighting package and $710 19-inch Design wheels.
However, tick a few more options and the price can easily balloon into six figures with the likes of a Burmester high-end surround sound system, natural leather interior and an Alcantara headlining costing $12,990, $10,590 and $3190 respectively.
While the standard gear will be more than enough for young couples and small families to get away with as a daily commuter, be wary that ticking a few options can easily make the cheapest Porsche a lot less affordable.
Measuring 4697mm long, 1923mm wide, 1624mm high and with a 2807mm wheelbase, the Porsche Macan offers plenty of room for both front and rear occupants.
Head, shoulder and legroom are ample in the outboard second-row seats, even with the front pews set-up to accommodate our tallish 186cm frame, but the middle seat is best left for children or smaller adults.
Porsches have always been driver focused though, and the entry-level Macan is no exception.
The front seats may look flat, but are actually supple and supportive, bolstered in all the right places to hold you when the road gets a bit twisty.
The seating position is great too, sitting high enough to see surroundings, with controls easily falling to hand.
Take note though, those who love a heated pew on a cold winter’s morning will have to option this feature in - $990 for the front seats, $1980 for both rows.
Some might say there are too many buttons on the centre stack, but we actually dig the fact that we can turn off the sports exhaust or enable the start/stop system with a press instead of digging into a menu to find the controls.
Practicality is fantastic too, with a boot able to swallow 500 litres – more than enough for a weekend shopping splurge – and cupholders that will actually grip larger water bottles.
Making use of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) – that’s the infotainment system in standard vernacular – is easy and intuitive thanks to a snappy touchscreen display and handy shortcut buttons.
We dig the hybrid of touchscreen and tactile controls that allow us to get to a maps display or change a radio station at a snap without taking our eyes off the road for too long.
Engine and transmission
Powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, the base Macan might be the least powerful in the brand’s mid-size SUV range, but still develops a healthy 185kW/370Nm.
Peak power is available at 6800rpm, but maximum torque comes on from 1600rpm, making the Macan an absolute delight at slow speeds around town.
Throttle response with the press of the right foot might not be as immediate as your expect from a Porsche, but power delivery is linear, smooth and predictable.
Towards the top end of the rev range, the Macan’s four-cylinder engine does run out of huff, but let’s be honest, who is going to be redlining a mid-size SUV around town?
Some might say because the engine is shared with the Audi A4 TFSI quattro Sport that the base Macan isn’t special enough, but when the engine is this charming and user friendly, does it really matter? Not to us.
The smooth-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – the same unit found in the rest of the Macan range – is also an absolute gem, changing gears nearly imperceptibly and intelligently.
Even through our dynamic test route, which involves a mix of high- and low-speed cornering that usually catches out slow-shifting automatics, the Macan’s unit performed nearly faultlessly and was able to hold gears when needed and not afraid to downshift.
Bury the right foot though and the Macan accelerates from zero to 100km/h in just 6.7 seconds – not bad for a 1730kg SUV (almost 100kg lighter than its siblings) – making it quicker than a Toyota 86 and Mazda MX-5.
The optional exhaust is also a real treat, spurting and popping away with high-rev upshifts, reminding us a bit of the hot hatches on offer from the likes of Audi and Volkswagen.
Without comparing the exhaust note side-by-side with a standard system though, we can’t tell if the $5390 asking price is worth it, but for those that want a more aurally pleasing experience, it is there.
The smaller engine also means the Macan is the most fuel efficient and less pollutant in the range, with figures pegged at 7.4 litres per 100km and 212 grams per kilometre respectively.
However, our week with the car yielded a much higher figure of 12.9L/100km – not unexpected given the majority of our conditions were through Melbourne’s busy inner city.
Ride and handling
Porsche is often seen as being at the forefront of sporty handling, even with its SUV offerings, and the entry-level Macan is no exception to this rule.
Steering is direct and communicative, with sharp turn in and a progressive feedback from the road to the tyres to the wheel.
However, physics is seldom overcome in an SUV (baring the likes of the full-fat Mercedes-AMG G63 S or Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk) and the Macan does succumb to its taller ride height and heavier body in the bends.
Bodyroll is pronounced in high-speed turns, but the all-wheel-drive grip inspires confidence and never left us feeling out of control.
Around town, the Macan confidently soaks up bumps despite the large 19-inch wheels filling its arches – the thick 55-profile front tyres, and 50-profile rears, no doubt play a part in shielding occupants from unwanted jostling.
Safety and servicing
The Porsche Macan is yet to be tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), but received the maximum five-star rating in European NCAP crash testing.
It scored 88 per cent in the adult occupant test, 87 per cent in the child occupant test, 60 per cent in the pedestrian test and 66 per cent in the safety assist category.
Of note however, the entry-level Macan lacks autonomous emergency braking, but comes fitted with lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring.
All Porsche Macans come with a three year/unlimited kilometre warrant with three years roadside assist and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.
There is a level of polish and refinement to Porsche products that its competitors can find difficult to match, and the base Macan is proof that the brand can still deliver sportscar-like thrills on a budget.
From the well laid out interior, the punchy powerplant and silky-smooth transmission, the four-cylinder Macan easily earns its Porsche badge.
Those in the market for a mid-tier luxury mid-size SUV that may be looking at a BMW or Mercedes should take a trip to a Porsche dealer to check out the Macan despite the slightly higher base price – just don’t go too nuts with the options.
BMW X3 xDrive30i from $76,900 before on-roads
A potent 2.0-litre turbo-petrol matches the Porsche Macan in power (185kW) but is pipped at the post in torque (350Nm). However, the tech-laden standard interior easily trumps the entry-level Macan for features.
Mercedes-Benz GLC250 4Matic from $71,600 before on-roads
With slightly less power and torque (155kW/350Nm) from a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, the Mercedes might not be able to match the Macan in performance, but the Benz is nearly $10,000 cheaper – leaving more of a budget for options.
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