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14 Jun 2018

Middle Management

How the Macan has redefined what it means to drive a Porsche.

How the Macan has redefined what it means to drive a Porsche.
Words: Matt Master
Photos: Jayson Fong
The first generation Macan has, with remarkably little fuss or fanfare, become Porsche’s runaway success story in recent years. In 2017 over 97,000 units were shipped worldwide, making this mid-size premium SUV far and away Porsche’s best-selling model in a year marked by record sales across the board.
After four years in the field and slated for replacement later in 2018, it feels like Zuffenhausen’s unlikely zeitgeist deserves a final revisit. We chose a GTS as the model that best represents the multi-faceted nature of this complex all-rounder – mid-priced, desirable and blessed with an enviable degree of poke.
The first thing that you always notice about a Macan in the metal is the seeming rightness of its proportions and styling. Where the Cayenne has copped some flak over its looks in the past and remains, unquestionably, a big car, the Macan looks more understated and more manageable. And its looks good. From any angle, Porsche’s designers have managed to create a shape that is quietly imposing and purposeful, full of the dynamic promise essential to a proper Porsche without descending into sports car pastiche.

One tell-tale of the Macan’s increasing age is its cockpit. On our GTS, with its optional Sports Chrono package and assorted luxuries, the gearstick is surrounded by a button Bedlam, aesthetically outmoded and physically fairly awkward to operate while driving. The face-lifted car, expected soon and likely to be on sale by the Autumn, will have rectified this with more of the intuitive central command concepts that we have seen so successfully rolled out in the new Panamera. Expect more screens, bigger screens, increased digitisation and the all-important connectivity.
On the move, the current Macan’s sensible proportions still prove an immediate asset. At 1926mm across the beam, this viable four-seat family SUV is only 74mm wider than the 911 GTS and just 164mm longer. On typically narrow British B-roads, through congested one-way systems and pre-Metric car parks, the Macan manages fine. Unexpectedly so. And at speed you have the luxury, albeit only just, of placing your car rather than just doing everything possible to keep it on your side of the road.
The GTS model here starts at £58,158, and for that you get a 355bhp 3.0-litre V6 with 500Nm of torque available from as little as 1,650rpm thanks to sequential twin turbos. The GTS will see off 62mph in 5.2 seconds and top out at 159mph. In real world conditions this is sports car fast from a car weighing just under two tonnes.

The GTS, with its performance and styling tweaks, sits between the entry level Macan or Macan S, the former of which is yours for £45,915, and the Turbo and flagship Turbo ‘with Performance Package’, which, for almost £70k, will up the power to 434bhp and drop your sprint to 62mph by 0.8 seconds. In a range where four-wheel drive is standard and performance gains so marginal, the GTS is the logical choice where budget allows.
It sits 15mm lower than a standard Macan, its PASM offering Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus driving modes that are all a little more focussed for the GTS. The final setting, with its attendant increases in revs and exhaust note turns a civilised SUV into something far closer to a bond fide sports car. Throttle response is impressive, manual shifts through the seven-speed PDK slick to the point of being seamless, and despite a high centre of gravity and 1895kg kerbweight, composure in faster corners is incredible.
It’s very difficult to find fault with the Macan GTS. Critics will argue that the ride is too stiff for many UK roads in Sport Plus mode and it probably is. But that’s what Sport and Comfort are for. The steering lacks a little feel and feedback, but the trade-off is refined, relaxing driving the other 90 percent of the time. The Macan, confounding as it may be, seems to have an answer for everything.

Not what the purist will regard as a ‘proper’ Porsche, the Macan is nevertheless a brilliant example of how a company so steeped in history and brand identity can evolve without compromising its integrity. The Macan is an admirable, enviable product, entirely worthy of the Porsche badge. It’s a response to a market demand, and it’s also the best response anyone has made.
There will always be those who decry the existence of any Porsche for which performance is not the sole or primary purpose, but for the many the Macan represents the perfect package. Compact, practical, comfortable, rapid, it’s very easy to see why this has become Porsche’s volume seller. And very hard to see how that’s going change.

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