Menu toggle

News

04 Jul 2024

First impressions of the all-new Macan E

The latest generation Macan has gone fully electric but what does this mean for Porsche's baby SUV?  

How do you test your brand-new battery electric vehicle drivetrain? Simple – stick it in a boat.
 
It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. Marine, rail and aeronautical applications put an unbelievable stress on a prime motivator; where else do you stand on the accelerator for half an hour without pause? That’s what Porsche did but, to be fair, the Frauscher x Porsche 850 Fantom Air speedboat has a considerably downrated output compared to Porsche’s new electric vehicle (EV), the second-generation Macan. All the same, the experiment was a success and it doesn’t seem to suffer any lack of oomph.
 
We’ve been waiting a while to see if Porsche’s new mid-sized SUV has the same qualities. That delay was due to a big revision of software in the Volkswagen Group, which has also affected the release of the new Macan’s similarly underpinned sister, Audi’s forthcoming Q6 e-tron. “We did talk about building the two together right from the off,” says Dr Robert Meier, product manager of the new Macan.
 
The new EV Macan is on sale now, with first deliveries expected this autumn. The starter model, the 381bhp/479lbft Macan 4, will cost from £69,800 (for the record, the piston-engined Macan starts at £54,900) and has a range of 367 miles in the WLTP test cycle. There’s an over boost function which momentarily raises the power to 402bhp and comes with a launch control feature. Top speed is 137mph, with 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds.
 
The top model in the EV Macan line is the Turbo, the word now considered a brand identifier at Porsche. This version will cost from £95,000 and it sports the same front motor as the Macan 4, but a more powerful rear motor and a state-of-the-art silicon carbide inverter gives a continuous output of 576bhp/833lbft with 630bhp on over boost. Its range is 381 miles, its top speed is 162mph and it does 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds.

276734_5040x2835-copy.jpg
 
At one time, the EV Macan was going to replace the petrol Macan entirely. Since the first announcement, however, things have changed in the industry. With electric car sales in gentle decline as governments and legislators back away from their initially bullish net zero targets and a danger that the early-adopter boom in EV sales is reaching a natural conclusion, the revision is entirely understandable, if a bit misunderstood.
 
After some 850,000 sales since its launch in 2014 and a recent facelift, the combustion Macan still has a market particularly among young women who value its blend of snazzy appearance, practicality and performance. As a result, sales will continue for at least a couple of years and maybe more. Ironically, that won’t happen in the European Union, where the vehicle doesn’t pass the cybersecurity requirements of the latest General Safety legislation which comes into force this July.
 
A 100kWh gross (95kWh useable) lithium-ion Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) battery which sits in the floor between the wheelbase is standard for both models. It uses CATL prismatic cells with the NMC-811 chemistry variant which has low amounts of cobalt and manganese and high rates of nickel in the cathode, giving it high energy density. Keeping up at the back?
 
Recharging can be done at up to 270kW DC, which gives a 0-80 per cent charge in just 21 minutes. There’s also a clever facility which will switch the 800-volt battery into two separate units at 400-volt charge stations – more on that in Tech Talk on P45. There’s also an 11kW AC charger which will deliver a 100 per cent charge in 10 hours on board.

_Z3A9350.jpg
 
The Turbo comes with air suspension and active damping as standard, though it’s only an option on the Macan 4. This is also the first Macan to be offered with rear-wheel steering, which steers the rear wheels at up to five degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speed to increase manoeuvrability and by less than a degree in the same direction as the fronts at higher speeds to increase stability.
 
There’s also a torque vectoring system, which is standard on the Turbo model, that apportions different torque to each wheel to help it turn in a corner in conjunction with the electronic stability system. Porsche Active Suspension Management also adjusts the suspension and damping rates using twin valves on each damper.
 
The Macan EV is longer than the combustion model, but they look similar at first glance. The EV’s bonnet is flat in the middle, while the body appears more waisted. Distinctive LED headlamps give a recognisable face and there are lots of cooling and aero ducts at the front. Active cooling shutters, aerodynamic wheels and a flat floor give a coefficient of drag of just 0.25Cd compared with the combustion Macan’s 0.35Cd, which gives the EV a range benefit of 53 miles.
 
It is now 4,784mm long, 1,938mm wide (2,152mm with the mirrors), 1,622mm high and rides on a 2,893mm wheelbase, which is 86mm longer than the standard combustion Macan. It weighs 2.33 tonnes and will tow up to two tonnes. The powered boot lid opens to reveal a 540-litre space, which extends to 1,348 litres if you fold the rear seat backs. In practical terms, the boot is more than adequate for at least four airline carry-ons and there is a space for the charging cables under the floor.

276831_5040x3362.jpg
 
Climb in and you are confronted with a discreet, understated and beautifully upholstered fascia. Unlike the current EV vogue, the Macan doesn’t have an iPad-style tablet thrust into the dashboard. Instead, the centre screen and its twin in front of the passenger are incorporated into the fascia.
 
Porsche’s traditional three-dial instrument binnacle is digitised, but remains clear and concise. That said, trying to change the displays using the centre touchscreen is not the work of a moment – even the handover engineer struggled. Similarly, the steering wheel, which follows industry practice in supporting many buttons and functions, isn’t the easiest to use and it’s too easy to change the display or a radio channel when performing a tight manoeuvre.
 
The centre screen is straightforward for simple functions, less so if you get into the sub-menus. The satnav has a clever way of taking in the geography, traffic conditions and charge station locations to ensure that you get to where you are going with your chosen amount of battery charge.
 
Add in comfortable and supportive front seats (though they were an option) along with space for three adults across the back seat with head and leg room to spare and the cabin is a practical place for long distances.

276766_3362x5040-copy.jpg
 
Trying the Macan 4 first, we drove out of Antibes on the Cote d’Azur and up into the Alpes-Maritime. On 20-inch wheels and tyres, and with the optional air suspension, the ride was firm but supple. Sharp-edged bumps could be felt and heard, albeit distantly. The steering is well weighted and direct, the power delivery is nicely linear and so too is the braking. Practical family troop carrier credentials passed, then.
 
Up on the old rally stage of the Col de Vence, the Macan 4 eggs you on to go faster and, of course, it would be rude to say no. The chassis control is too soft in the Normal setting but, in Sport, it feels agile and wieldy in a way a 2.33-tonne, 4.8-metre SUV has no right to. There’s a bit of body roll as you turn into the corners, but it’s well-managed and it serves mainly to tell you where you are in the corner. Through the turn, the roll is well controlled.
 
The roads of the Route Napoleon are abrasive and grippy, and that suits this car just fine. Faster, even faster, and the chassis continues to feel instinctive and informative. The seats adjust low so you don’t feel the top weight as much as in rivals and there’s even some steering feedback, which is a new sensation in an EV SUV like this.
 
“We spent a lot of time on the steering,” says Dr Meier. “It’s an all-new system and
is one of the differences between our car and the Audi Q6.”

276783_5040x3360.jpg
 
On the same roads, the Turbo model, with a lot more power along with its torque vectoring and rear steering, feels undeniably faster but more rigidly tied down. On 22-inch tyres, the ride is worse, crashing around the lumps and bumps of Antibes and tramlining on road repairs. The rear steering doesn’t help much here, with the rear wheels seemingly finding themselves reacting to bits of the road which the front ones never saw. Yes, this is a faster car, but it never talks to you like the Macan 4 and never inspires the same confidence.
 
The brakes are superb on both models, with a linear progression and good grab at the top of the pedal. Just as well, you might say, but the steering wheel paddles to increase the regenerative braking or one-pedal operation which activates regen braking when you lift off are notable by their absence. Porsche maintains that all these are gimmicks and don’t give much benefit in range because you should be able to do all this using the brakes conventionally. Fair enough, but it would be nice to be able to easily dial in a bit more retardation on long downhill stretches.
 
Afterwards, over a cup of coffee, Dr Meier agreed that the Macan 4 might have the sweeter chassis with its smaller wheels and tyres, but Porsche owners (particularly in Germany) will want the extra power and performance. More tellingly, the roads over there are smoother and faster than the Route Napoleon and certainly than in the UK.
 
I’m still not convinced of the benefits of two entirely separate but similarly designed vehicles with the same name but, in the lower-powered but still very powerful and fast 4, the Macan is a driving machine of rare brilliance – especially for an SUV.
 
We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking these EVs are zero-emissions vehicles, however. That might be true at the tail pipe but, if you consider the electricity that charges them in the UK, they will average well-to-wheels CO2 emissions of around 33g/km.
 
In the end, and whatever its environmental benefit, the EV Macan has to be both a practical family car and a performance Porsche. Given that, the faster and more single-minded Turbo is less successful at reconciling those aims and is a lot more expensive than the starter version. If I were you, I’d save your money and choose the 4.
 

Let us help you unlock the potential of your Porsche

Join now