Car reviews - Porsche - Macan - S
Sharp handling and engaging dynamics, slick-shifting transmission, premium fit and finish, punchy engine, larger infotainment system
Room for improvement
No standard AEB, muted exhaust noise, expensive options
Porsche’s facelifted Macan S refines already exciting and appealing SUV offering
28 Feb 2019
By TUNG NGUYEN
PORSCHE’S Macan mid-size SUV was an instant hit when it debuted in 2014, quickly selling out in Australia and pushing wait times out to nearly 12 months.
As the entry point to the Porsche range, the Macan may have been cheaper, but it didn’t ditch any of the sharp driving dynamics and engaging performance Porsches are known and renowned for.
Now, in its first update since launch, the Macan is spruced up with a new look, revised interior and, at least for the S grade, updated engine, but does it retain the winning formula from before?
From the outside, the 2019 Porsche Macan may not look much different from its predecessor, but the updates are much more evident once you start to scratch the surface, or step inside.
One of the biggest changes in the new Macan is the inclusion of an 11.0-inch Porsche Communication Management (PCM) touchscreen infotainment system, which – especially when compared with the outgoing 7.0-inch unit – goes a long way in modernising the cabin.
The central controls now feel befitting of a premium car brand like Porsche, rather than something tacked on and cheap.
All the functionality is there too, including satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and digital radio, while new connected apps and features include location-based searches for restaurants and service stations.
The larger screen just makes things a little clearer and easier to use and puts the interior of the Macan up there amongst the technological wonder of its BMW and Mercedes rivals.
Elsewhere, the interior is mostly the same, namely swathed in soft-touch and premium materials.
With an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude, the new Macan retains its predecessor’s comfortable and supportive seats, roomy second row, central tachometer, and embedded and customisable driver display.
Take note though, that while safety equipment is extensive with the likes of a surround-view monitor, lane keep assist and cruise control, autonomous emergency braking is not standard and needs to be optioned in along with adaptive cruise control.
It is galling that such a crucial safety technology is absent from the standard equipment list and locked behind a paywall, especially in a premium-badged model like the Macan.
However, these aren’t traits that make the Macan a Porsche, that would be the peppy drivetrain and ultra-sharp handling characteristics.
Available in just the two lower grades for now, the new Macan range opens with the four-cylinder version at $81,400 before on-road costs and tops out with the $97,500 S variant.
Though we weren’t able to test the updated 2.0-litre four-cylinder version, outputs remain unchanged for the base Macan at 185kW/370Nm.
In S form however, the outgoing twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 is now replaced by Porsche’s own 3.0-lire single twin-scroll turbo V6, which is already in service in the second-generation Panamera.
Under the bonnet of the new Macan, the bent six develops 260kW of power and 480Nm of torque, which is 10kW/20Nm more than before, but behind the driver’s seat the increased outputs are barely noticeable without a back-to-back comparison.
What we can tell though is the nearly two-tonne Macan still boogies as well as it did before, with peak power available from 5400-6400rpm and maximum torque from as low as 1360-4800rpm.
The seven-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic transmission is also as silky smooth as before, shifting quickly at low speeds around town and smartly holding gears when burying the right foot.
Porsche claims a zero to 100km/h time of just 5.1 seconds, but without proper tools to measure the claim, we can’t say for sure.
From the driver’s seat though, the Macan actually feels a little slower than its claims, likely due to the lack of exhaust noise.
Floor it and let the engine revs build and everything remains surprisingly sedate and quiet – no pops and crackles on upshift and no excessive engine noise.
Though we imagine this can be fixed with an optional sports exhaust, we just wish it was already included in the price of admission.
What doesn’t need room for improvement is the Macan’s pointed and darty handling characteristics, feeling much more sportscar-like than a high-riding SUV.
Turn in is direct and feedback from the chassis and steering is almost tangible, making the Macan one of the most rewarding corner carvers this side of a hot hatch.
Luckily, the brakes are also up to task when scrubbing speed, bringing the Macan to a halt confidently and quickly when needed.
As a package, very few cars can meld the practicality of an SUV with the fun dynamics of a sportscar, and while the Macan might not reach the latter all the way, it certainly earns its Porsche badge.
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