SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: I’ll spare you the predictable and now-cliché droning about whether theMacan, like the Cayenne before it, represents another coming of the Porsche pocalypse. But the Macan is an inevitability, and a fun one.
“Fun” is relative, naturally, because we’re talking about a 2-ton crossover, not a sports car or sports sedan. But this is the finest such vehicle on the market, though hardcore purists will surely read this as faint praise. Move past that, though -- and you’ll do so quickly if you’re driving a Macan Turbo -- and you find an excellent, fun to drive and ride in CUV.
The knock on CUVs is that they represent an illusion on wheels, cars raised into the air masquerading as a “trucks” while offering little in the way of increased practicality/usability. The Macan doesn’t do anything revolutionary in terms of packaging to explode that notion, so in that sense, it’s as ridiculous a creation as any of its in-class brethren. However, considering the sheer number of CUVs on the road -- and the fact Macans are sold out for months already -- there is no questioning market demand. So if you are among the CUV faithful, and well-heeled enough, you will do no better than a Macan Turbo.
Porsche engineers don’t shy away from the Macan’s Q5 origins, but they point out immediately that other than its wheelbase and suspension configuration, just about everything else is different. It’s longer and wider, with more aggressive styling inside and out, strong Porsche engine and PDK gearbox, and a chassis setup that makes it remarkably capable of shredding corners while coming close to actually feeling nimble.
The interior is gorgeous, and while I don’t love the overabundance of buttons on the center console, neither do I abhor them. This particular car came equipped with an optional, multifunction carbon fiber sport steering wheel that is small and chunky, and probably the best steering wheel I’ve seen in any Porsche in a long time. Excellent seats are no surprise, and the entire package feels screwed together and torqued down to an airtight finish.
Power is solid, though I thought this Macan Turbo felt a little slower than I expected. You won’t have a “holy $&*#!” moment when you crack the throttle, but you’ll certainly smile, and likewise when the strong brakes scrub speed without hesitation before you snap into a corner and power hard out the other end. If you’ve driven Cayennes and found yourself impressed, then you’ll love the resultant handling of the Macan’s lighter weight and lower center of gravity.
Complaints? Most notably the silly 21-inch wheel/tire package. While it contributes to a mean aesthetic by filling up the large wheel arches, it likewise contributes to an often annoying ride quality over typical bumps and fissures in the road surface, as well as creating unnecessary noise. This all applies even with the suspension set to comfort mode. It wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me, but I’m pretty sure I would prefer a less aggressive wheel/tire size in this application -- and my wallet would definitely appreciate the lower cost of smaller tires when it came time to replace the rubber. Prospective buyers need to be aware of this potentially tiresome characteristic, even though their wallets are most certainly much fatter than mine if they’re buying a new Macan Turbo.
Porsche’s latest might not make logical sense in the real world due to the aforementioned shortcomings of all CUVs, even as it makes nothing but sense for the company’s bottom line. It will build something like 50,000 Macans in 2015. If you can’t wrap your brain around that statistic, the company won’t worry: there are more than enough people who want this type of vehicle, and judging by early sales and projections, plenty who want this vehicle. Whether or not you or I understand the CUV enthusiast, the ones who drive a Macan Turbo will have their hands on the best the class has to offer at the moment. In that sense, at least, it’s most definitely a Porsche.
The 21-inch wheel/tire package on the 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo unnecessarily contributes to an often annoying rife quality over the slightest road imperfections.PHOTO BY JOSH SCOTT
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: Last time I was in a Q5 -- a 2013 Q4 3.0 TFSI Premium Plus -- I wasn't particularly kind to it. Certainly, its combination of a $50K price tag, overly weighty steering ...
SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: I’ve so long gotten over the whole thing, indeed, had all but forgotten the firestorm that raged around Porsche’s decision to build a -- gasp! -- sport-utility vehicle that Mr. Morrison invoking that moment in history totally had me going, “Oh, yeah! It was a big deal, wasn’t it?” All those Porsche zealots with their pitchforks and chest thumping and Internet rants, it all seems almost quaint looking back from a 2014 perspective.
Still, that’s a long way from saying it’s an easy proposition accepting Porsche as a maker of family vehicles first and sports cars second. But with the rollout of its second ute, Porsche now builds as many trucks as it does cars (17,777 cars through Sept. 2014 vs. 17,589 trucks on the year) -- and that’s with the Macan having only rolled out in May. I’m betting 2015 will see the Macan surpassing every other vehicle in the Porsche stable in sales.
If I was in the market (and, needless to say, if I wasn’t trying to make ends meet on a writer’s salary), I might happily count myself among one of the thousands who’ll scoop one up next year, except…
I’m generally a smaller-is-better sort of gal. Given a measure of utility and enough room in back for a rear-facing child seat, I will usually opt for the more compact vehicle when faced with several options. But Porsche’s totally whacked-out pricing structure has me wondering why anyone would ever go for a Macan over a Cayenne. Seriously, does moderately less heft at the curb and a slightly lower center of gravity have THAT much bearing on a vehicle that will NEVER perform like a Cayman no matter how hard you try? So why make those specs motivating arguments in its favor?
No, the primary reason behind buying any example of the Macan’s ilk, i.e., a crossover, is: practicality. And you get a LOT more practicality for your $100 grand (or even $72K) when going the Cayenne route than Macan.
All that is not to say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy driving the Macan. It’s a genuine hoot (even if blasting around a racetrack is made a bit off-putting given you’re seated so high). And I’m going to just go ahead and say it: This PDK is the best transmission going right now, bar none. Even in auto mode, it snaps off shifts all bang-bang like I could never even dream of doing, handling all that power and torque without a hiccup, no matter what you try. It makes me giddy using this tranny, just giddy.
I could do without the $3,300 21-inch wheel-and-tire package, though. Those wheels definitely fill the arches, but instead of “mean aesthetic,” I think they actually give the Macan a rather cartoonish look. Maybe that’s the point, I don’t know, but they are also loud, and given this test vehicle also had $990 noise insulating glass, it seems to be a bit defeating.
But I’ll take all those buttons, thank you. Maybe they speak to my Blackberry soul (why, oh why, Blackberry, did you have to go and suck so badly?), but if I can have a button instead of a digital page buried somewhere in touchscreen hell -- or worse, on a flat-panel Cadillac CUE haptic-feedback center stack -- I’m ever so grateful.
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