Normally when the term “compact crossover” comes across the table you think of products like the Honda CR-V, the Ford Escape or the Toyota RAV4.
|Engine: Turbocharged 3.0L V6 makes 340 hp and 339 lb-ft. Turbocharged 3.6L V6 makes 400 hp, 406 lb-ft.
Transmission: Seven-speed PDK.
Fuel economy: 17/23/19 MPG city/highway/combined.
Price: Macan S starts at $50,895 or $78,335 as tested. Macan Turbo starts at $73,295 or $102,435 as tested.
Of course you could always go with something a little bit nicer like an Audi Q5 or Mercedes-Benz GLK. In fact it’s hard to think of a company that doesn’t offer something in this segment and starting this year, Porsche is joining those ranks.
But as you can probably guess, its idea of what a small soft-road capable crossover should be is a little bit different than, well, anyone else.
Say Hello to the Macan
In the U.S., Porsche is offering two versions of the Macan: the S and Turbo. Both use twin-turbo V6 engines powering a rear-biased all-wheel drive system mated exclusively to Porsche’s seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission.
The Macan S has a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 340 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque and hits 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Officially, it’s rated at 17 MPG city, 23 on the highway or an average of 19.
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Then there’s the hotter Macan Turbo. Its engine displaces 3.6-liters and makes a 400 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque and can hit 60 in 4.6 seconds. It is worth noting that both cars shave 0.2 seconds off those times with the sport chrono package, which adds launch control.
Shockingly, the Turbo model is rated for the exact same fuel economy as the lighter and less powerful “S.”
Oh and pricing? The base Macan S starts at $50,895 including delivery but with several options ticked it’s easy to cross the $65,000 mark and possible to crest $78,000.
Entry for the Macan turbo kicks off at $73,295, but as usual with a Porsche the extras ain’t cheap. Believe it or not, most of the Macan Turbos Porsche had on hand during the press junket cost more than $100,000.
Return on Investment?
That’s a lot of cash for a compact crossover. So what do you get? For starters, eight different wheel options including standard 19-inch alloys that are 235 millimeters wide in the front and 255 at the rear. Optionally, there are also 21-inch with 295 millimeters wide rear tires lending loads of grip for hard acceleration.
Several of the design elements are meant as a nod to Porsche’s 918 Spyder. For example, the Macan has a clamshell hood and what Porsche calls “3D” LED taillights. Rounded exhaust pipes characterize the Macan S while squared tips in the “Turbo” model take after the 911 that shares its surname. But the best bits of Porsche’s baby SUV are tucked away in the cabin.
Stylish Cabin to Start, Sexy When Upgraded
The base S model comes with piano black interior finishes but every version is available with wood, carbon fiber or brushed aluminum accents. You can also upgrade to 18-way adjustable sport seats, although Turbo all Turbo models get those out of the gate. As bucket seats go, it’s hard to beat what Porsche offers.
But if you would rather not spend up to $5,180 on them, there are two alternatives. The first – and least expensive option – have eight degrees of adjustability while the next-best can be shifted in 14 ways. Porsche’s most transformable driver throne also comes wrapped in appreciably softer leather and if there’s one place to pay for better trim, it’s probably the seats.
The steering wheel is another nod to the 918 an unlike some other models in the Porsche lineup it has buttons to control phone calls, volume and telematics.
Porsche’s spec sheet doesn’t actually have rear seat leg and headroom measurements, but having sat there I can tell you that there’s plenty of headroom, but legroom is limited. While we’re on the subject of space, there are 17.7 cubic feet with the 40/20/40 split seats up or 53 with them down.
When it comes to equipping the Macan, Porsche isn’t restricting options on either car. That means you can kit out a Macan S to have all the same equipment as its quicker brother – except for the bigger engine and brake rotors.
Just like its Cayenne big brother, the Macan is immensely comfortable for highway cruising. It’s so quiet and so smooth that it’s plenty easy to speed.
Blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control are all available. Turn-by-turn navigation and a 40 GB hard drive for MP3 storage are offered on the Macan S and standard on the Turbo.
Perhaps more importantly, some of the latest in safety technology is also offered on the options list. Even when adaptive cruise control is disabled, the car can pre-load the brakes and even apply full braking power to help mitigate a crash.
Forward visibility is excellent, making it easy to see where you’re aiming, be it shooting through a chicane or just a Dunkin Donuts Drive Thru.
Track Day? You Betcha
Summer tires are standard on the Macan and that hints at one thing: it isn’t meant to compete with any other car in its segment, it’s supposed to sit head and shoulders above them.
Luckily, I spent several hours at Willow Springs Raceway to find out first hand if it actually lives up to Porsches segment-busting aspirations. And it does.
The unique all-wheel drive system puts power to the rear wheels but can deliver up to 100 percent of the torque to the front if need be. Like other Porsches, there’s also optional torque vectoring by braking that applies to the rear wheels. That improves cornering ability on pavement and it also enhances traction on loose ground.
The base Macan S comes with steel springs, while the Turbo gets Porsche’s active suspension management system by default. If you really want to go all out, there’s also an optional air suspension that can lower the car at high speeds or increase ground clearance to 9.06 inches. It doesn’t matter if you want to trundle down a two-track or turn laps on a racecourse, the Macan can be equipped for either or both.
On public roads, the Macan S has plenty of power but on the track you really notice the difference the higher output engine makes. Where the S noticeably runs out of steam, the Turbo begs to keep pulling.
Any way you take it, the Macan is a heavy beast. At its lightest, you’ll still be steering something that tips the scales at 4,112 lbs, but a loaded Turbo model weighs 4,652 lbs and feels it.
Under load in a hard corner, the base steel spring suspension is compliant and body roll is obvious. The air suspension addresses that, though it’s still impossible to ignore the Macan’s sheer girth.
Yet Another Porsche Capable of Camping
You probably won’t ever take the Macan within a country mile of a place where branch scratches or – heaven forbid – being stuck in mud are real possibilities; but you could. And truth be told, this car is probably designed less for getting dirty and more for handling weekend trips through the snowy passes to Aspen or Mount Hood.
That’s something it could probably handle without incident. I write “probably” because we drove in 100 degree heat. But Porsche’s press program did include an off-road course where we drove up grades steep and loose enough to be difficult on foot. I rode up the hill as a passenger and drove back down. Consequently I can verify that the Macan is in fact capable of driving up steep grades although I haven’t the faintest clue how it feels to be in control. Bear in mind, the car achieved that on summer performance tires.
On the other hand, the hill descent control is effective at holding a crawling speed during a down climb. The system is accessible while travelling between two and 18 MPH, though it’s hard to imagine exploring the upper threshold; the Macan is no F-150 Raptor fighter.
Instead, it’s wholly capable of carrying a canoe to less travelled lakes, bringing boogie boards to a beach or taking you to your favorite mountain biking trailhead. Simultaneously, it can hit 60 MPH in 4.4 seconds and more than hold its own on a handling course. This is the new Leatherman of compact crossovers.
If you’re thinking about buying a Macan because of its base price, do yourself a favor and look elsewhere. But if you can afford to pay the typical Porsche premium for optional parts, you’ll be taking home a product that redefines what a compact crossover can be.