Road Tests

Drive Review: Porsche Macan (2019). No diesel, but everything is better

The refreshed version of Porsche’s immensely successful – and sportingly sensible – Macan will become available in South Africa during Q1 2019 and it offers a tremendous blend of value and ability.

Although the structure and crucial bits haven’t altered much, there are a host of small, but notable, component upgrades. The styling changes mostly feature integration of the third-generation Cayenne’s headlights and tailgate, which that signature full length horizontal lighting bar now applied to most of Porsche’s vehicles.

New Macan will be offered four new colours (with four contrasting ‘switchblade’ door inserts) and wheels from 18- to 21-inches. Tyres were specially developed for Macan and they run on asymmetric wheels, which are wider at the rear, and give the Macan sharper turn-in responsiveness. It’s a charmingly traditional way of improving agility for SUVs, and one first used by Porsche on the current generation Cayenne.

Inside the Macan now has a bigger touchscreen infotainment interface and significantly improved digitisation, with voice control and an assortment of apps.

A modernised appearance and digitised cabin are important notables but what matters with Macan, as with any other Porsche, is the way it drives. This is, after all, the vehicle which sets the standard for SUV handling accuracy and nimbleness on roads where SUVs are not supposed to work.

Macan’s dual-chamber air-suspension suspension has some new internals, but even if you don’t option it, the balance between ride quality and roll mitigation is remarkable. Porsche launched new Macan on some of Majorca’s most challenging roads and the tighter they got, the less it felt as if one was helming a near 1.8t SUV into corners.

Performance SUVs are often capable, but hardly ever entertaining. In the Macan you relish tight corners, working the steering wheel vigorously to revel in its balance and rear-biased all-wheel drive toque allocation. I suppose it helps that steering, braking and throttle are the only inputs which consume one in Macan. The seven-speed PDK transmission ensures that one never has to bother about gear selection – safe in the knowledge and anticipation that Porsche’s dual-clutch mechanical interface will make the best decision for you.

They’ve done some work evolving the electromechanical steering system’s master algorithm, adding weight to it, whilst the engines gain reprofiled boost geometry to improve throttle response. As with Cayenne, Macan will no longer offer a diesel engine option, with the available powerplants being two turbopetrols, a 185kW/370Nm 2-litre four and 260kW/480Nm 3-litre V6.

Both engines are excellently calibrated in their relationship with the all-wheel drive system and PDK gearbox and if you option the Sport Chrono package, which sharpens throttle and gear-changing response even more, the Macan is commendably quick.

The V6-powered Macan S will run 0-100kph in 5.1 sec, with the four-cylinder a touch slower at 6.1 seconds. Ironically, the 2-litre engine’s 0-100kph time matches that of the previous V6 diesel.

A brilliantly balanced five-seater family performance car, with 500-litres of luggage space and 182mm of ground clearance for those brief dirt road journeys, Macan makes an awful lot of sense in a world of compromised SUVs. It does everything as excellently as you’d expect from something wearing a Porsche badge and looks good doing it to.

Best of all, is the pricing. The Macan is set to retail for R845 000, which is a very reasonable access point to Porsche ownership. And as we all know, there’s nothing unusual about the potential rewards to be found in a four-cylinder Porsche, as some of the greatest Porsches in living memory have featured four pots.

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