When we hear the brand “Porsche”, we immediately visualize one car: 911.
Porsche, for the longest time, has been all about the 911. The sportscar has just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, all while maintaining the same iconic shape and performance formula: rear-mounted flat engine, rear- or all-wheel drive, and steering, brakes, and suspension that literally tell the driver what each wheel is doing.
Lately, however, Porsche has been trying new things. Sure, they've had great success with their two “entry” level models like the Boxster and Cayman, but those are still sportscars in their own right. We're talking about the bigger boys in Stuttgart's line up: the Panamera and the Cayenne.
The four-door Panamera is selling very well, and there's an all-new model in the horizon with an incredibly awesome rear wing. But it's the Cayenne that was the real success story, proving to be the most profitable model in the Porsche line-up. Yes, purists still see the Cayenne with shrugs and raised eyebrows, but it pays the bills for the company that makes the 911, and that's never a bad thing.
Two years ago, Porsche did it again by building another crossover, but this time smaller; and they called it the Macan. Now we'll drive it on our roads, our traffic, and our cities to see if it really can be a great everyday drive.
For starters, the Macan looks great; a huge contrast when you consider that the original Cayenne polarized opinions when it was launched in 2002 when Porsche was still on their “fried egg headlight” generation of models like the first Boxster (986) and 911 (996). With the Macan, I particularly like the long, shapely front, the low roofline, and the shooting brake-style rear end. It's a shapely crossover that exhibits the design qualities expected of a Porsche, though I would swap out those wheels with something bigger. Perhaps the 21-inch wheels in the Turbo variants will do, though it's a very pricey option.
This Macan I'm trying out is the “base four cylinder model, but at PhP 4,980,000, the appointments in this Macan R4 (as they call it locally) doesn't feel like a base version. Everything you really need is already standard equipment like steering wheel audio controls, climate control, stability control, a multitude of airbags, leather seats, Bluetooth, USB, and much more.
You'll feel snug in the driver's seat, as Porsche seems to have built a bit of a cocoon around you. I like the shape of the seats, the surprising amount of passenger space and cargo capacity. The boot is quite capacious; Porsche says it can fit 500 liters of cargo and 1500 liters if you fold the rear seats. Good numbers, though I found it odd how those numbers can be so exact.
On a daily commute to the office, the Macan is superb. Yes, Porsches are made for carving corners and delivering thrills on a track, but the Macan is a fantastic drive around town as well. You will feel a fair amount of bumps on our roads, but all things considered, the Macan has a great balance honed in for comfortable city driving. Efficient too; 8.8 km/l if driven sensibly in the city (21 km/h average) and 13.8 km/l on the highway (89 km/h average).
The key to that efficiency is the powertrain. At the heart of the Macan is a 2.0-liter, four cylinder turbocharged engine paired with a seven-speed Porsche doppelkup... ugh, I'll just call it PDK, which is a fancy Porsche term for a dual clutch gearbox. What was most unusual is that the Macan's four banger isn't a boxer/flat motor; it's an inline engine from the Volkswagen group, a 252 PS, 370 Nm derivative of the 1984cc unit used on the Audi TT and the Golf GTI. And it's got four wheel drive and plenty of tech for an exhilarating drive.
They really weren't kidding when they said that the Macan is really a sportscar in a crossover body, and all it takes is a nice open stretch of mountain road to make you see Porsche's way of thinking. The acceleration from the turbo four under that hood feels very motivated to get going, and the seven speed PDK is certainly a perfect match. It can hit upwards of 220 km/h, while 100 km/h can easily be dispatched in 6.9 seconds; that's quick, and this is still the smallest engine in the range.
Through the corners, this Porsche just feels so planted and so ready for more that the Macan will give the driver the confidence to go have a bit of fun. But I think the Macan could also be a hampered by the same hype. Porsche has dialed up the hype that you'd be forgiven if you jumped in expecting 911 and Cayman levels of driving feel. The Macan does not have that communicative steering or braking feel you would normally associate with Porsche's sports cars, but it certainly is a far more entertaining drive than its bigger brother.
We can sum up the Macan as a smaller, lighter, tighter handling version of the Cayenne, but that probably won't do it justice. What I like most about the Macan is its broad market appeal and its daily usability; it proved so easy to drive around town, manuever around our notoriously tight streets, can take on potholes and speedbumps easily, and is very cozy in our kind of traffic.
Yes, I still have the 911 at the top of my list of all-time cars that I would beg, borrow and steal to have in my garage, and that's the difference. The 911 would be relaxing most of the time in the garage to be taken out on weekends or holidays, but the Macan will be the one I would drive everyday.