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 Porschepocalypse. 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.
The carbon fiber exterior bits don't work in harmony with the overall look of the 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo.PHOTO BY JOSH SCOTT
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: Is anyone surprised that the 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo is actually a fun vehicle to drive? If you are, you shouldn’t be, because the Cayenne is proof that Porsche knows a thing or two about making things other than sports cars handle really well. Is there any question that the Cayenne feels lighter on its feet than its Audi Q7 andVolkswagen Touareg cousins? Nope.
With the Macan, it’s the same story. Dynamically it’s a step ahead of the Audi Q5. Surely the optional 21-wheels wrapped in 295/35 Michelin Latitude Sport 3 rubber helps a lot, but the suspension, steering and brakes help form a package that’s very well sorted. Slinking through the slalom at Michigan International Speedway, the Macan Turbo feels planted, handling the side-to-side transitions well and the front end turning in with good bite. It’s without question the best crossover that I’ve taken through the cones. It would be interesting to see how the Audi SQ5 would fare compared to the Porsche, though. That would have been a very good back-to-back test.
Around the road course at MIS, the Macan Turbo also does well. Not sure how many Macans will see track work, but it’s certainly capable of going out for a session or two if you would like. Steering feels direct, and the brakes stayed under the car for the most part with only a little fade apparent after some hard lapping.
The darn thing is quick in a straight line, too. We got this 4,200-pound family hauler to hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds consistently using launch control. Covering the quarter-mile took 12.8 seconds at 108 mph, according to our Vbox data recorder. And those are uncorrected, really-happened numbers.
On road, this Macan Turbo does suffer from a lot of tire noise, which shouldn’t be a shocker with those 35-series sidewalls. Every expansion joint causes the tires to emit a “thunk” into the cabin, which may get tiring after a bit. The skinny sidewalls will also make you extra mindful of potholes, but that’s the case with any performance vehicle. The air suspension does return a well-cushioned ride, though, even on these tires.
I do like Porsche cabins a lot. They’re always well built with nice leathers throughout and massively comfortable seats. And I’m a firm believer in traditional hard buttons. Porsche uses a lot of them, which may cause some to complain about a cluttered center stack, but I’ll take that any day over a touchscreen that requires scrolling through a bunch of menus. Long live hard buttons! And sound system volume knobs!
Looking around, there really aren’t many hyper performance luxury crossovers of this size on the market. Mercedes-Benz doesn’t have an AMG version of the GLK, and the only BMW M crossovers are the X5 M and X6 M which have a larger footprint than the Macan. I did mention the SQ5 already with its 354-hp supercharged V6, but that’s more in line with the performance of the Macan S and not the Turbo.
But the Macan Turbo’s $73K base price is a lot of loot that can get you into one mega-powered SUV if you’re willing to expand the search parameters some. If you don’t mind giving up a little in the luxury and corner-carving ability departments, you could get yourself a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 that starts at about $65K with a honking 6.4-liter Hemi V8 spitting out 475 hp. Don’t know how many people will cross shop the two, but there you go.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: I’m not sure what I noticed first when I hopped inside the 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo: The pleasantly spacious feel of the cabin, a driving position suitably high and upright enough for the average crossover-buyer, or the aroma. This is what a primo six-figure Q5 smells like, folks. It’s about as far from a new Toyota Corolla or Kia Forte as you can get, and that’s a great thing. Material quality and fit and finish are what you’d expect on a Porsche, though I did think the button-heavy center stack looked like one of those gaudy Vertu smartphones rich guys like to be seen using. Though, those same guys like to be seen driving Porsches, so…
The proportions are pleasing, but there are idiotic tack-ons, like the carbon fiber “blade” above the rockers and the goofy carbon spoiler on the tailgate. Still, there are really nice details like the clamshell hood that suggest someone gave this crossover a lot of thought when lightly massaging and re-badging an Audi would have still resulted in massive profits for Porsche.
The PDK is really quite good, and shift points seem to be exactly where you’d want them to be on the road course -- the paddles seem almost superfluous. Even that first-gear dual-clutch lag that seems fairly common on DCT/turbo engine combos is blessedly absent. There’s more than enough power. It doesn’t really shove you back into your seat, but the Macan never runs out of breath.
I have to admit that I was (at best) indifferent about the Macan, and though it’s obviously not going to feel like a Cayman…it’s not bad. It’s expensive, yes, but it’s probably a better fit for the sort of person in the market for a sporty non-truck/non-sedan than the loaded Panamera, Cayenne or Range Rover Sport they would have otherwise purchased.
On the other hand, it’s probably the least significant vehicle in our testing pool in that it is the single most obvious thing Porsche could have possibly built given the car market circa 2014. If Porsche hadn’t developed it, the universe would have somehow constructed one. It was an inevitability. A fun inevitability, but an inevitability nonetheless.
The 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo quality of the interior is completed to an almost air tight finish.PHOTO BY PORSCHE
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