Good Sport - Porsche Macan S Diesel
Pronounced Macarn not Mac-ann, this is Porsche’s first foray into the compact SUV market. Except Porsche would probably prefer us to think of it as a sports car and you can understand why – they’ve spent the best part of a billion pounds on developing the Macan to ensure that, whilst it may look like an SUV, sure as hell doesn’t drive like one. That’s a lot of money, even for Porsche. If they’ve pulled it off then the rewards will make it worthwhile, afterall the compact SUV market is huge, if largely uninspiring. So, imagine how many bucket-loads they’ll sell if it is indeed more like a sports car. But is it?
First impressions are that this is still a fairly big car even though it’s less imposing than its big brother, the Cayenne. Its footprint isn’t that much smaller than the Cayenne’s (it’s about a foot shorter) but it sits a lot lower and is far more svelte. The classic 911 lines we all know and love are clearly evident and very well resolved. The result is an SUV that’s instantly recognisable as a Porsche and the best looker in the sector by a country mile. A good start.
The Porsche family’s design themes continue inside - a rising centre console that’s derived from the Carrera GT, a rectangular vent design like the latest Cayenne, a central rev counter pride of place in the gauge cluster. It’s all an excellent and balanced blend of form and function and oozes quality. But the real plus is how it feels in the driving seat – it does rather feel like a sports car. Form hugging seats at the right rake and much lower than any other SUV, sports steering wheel (modelled on the 918’s no less) and though objectively spacious, with a big boot and plenty of leg room, it somehow manages to feels snug with all the important bits a flick of the wrist away.
The S Diesel is likely to be the Macan’s most popular model but with it being a Porsche the expectation will be far higher than for your average oil-burner. Able to hit 62mph in 6.3 seconds, and with a whopping 427lb ft of torque on offer, this 3.0 V6 is by far the most sporting of the various diesel-engined compact SUVs
we’ve driven being responsive, lively and very quick, especially mid range. It’s also frugal with an mpg of 46.3mpg and emits just 159g/km of CO2. So, another box ticked. To be honest, you’d expect a Porsche, any Porsche, even if it were an artic lorry, to be quick. With their engine expertise anything’s possible. But defying the laws of physics, in this case making an SUV handle as well as a sportscar with a very low centre of gravity, is a tough ask (though Porsche have some form taming nature with the illogically rear-engined 911). The big question is how does it actually drive?
The short answer is brilliantly, for an SUV. In fact, it’s better to think of it as driving like a taller Cayman or 911 rather than a lowered Cayenne. Steering is pin-sharp, very direct and with feedback almost akin to a sportscar’s, something you rarely get on SUV’s as the steering assistance needed is so great to compensate for their weight and height. The Macan is an amazingly fluid and engaging car to drive, delivering a level of dynamic ability and engagement that does indeed defy its size. If you’re being harsh it doesn’t corner as flat as a Cayman or 911, but come on, it was never going to. What it does is grip through corners and excite in a way that an SUV has no right to whilst still being comfortable and refined, especially when specced with air suspension.
Is it a sports car though? Erm. That really depends on where you’re setting the bar. If it’s the 911 or Cayman then no, that would be stretching it. But if you’re talking about high performance sporting saloons and their ilk then yes, in performance and handling terms it gives them a real run for their money. Add in the kudos of Porsche and the everyday practicality and style of an SUV and you’ve got a game changer that sets the standard for others to follow for years to come.
Porsche Macan S Diesel
Top speed: 142mph