Porsche has always been known for making great sports cars. That is without a doubt. They see the limit of what vehicles can do and take that as the starting point in making ‘something special’ on four wheels. Porsche never fails to find a way to ‘wow’ and this latest jaunt takes them to a discovery SUV lovers will forever be thankful for.
Say hello to the 2014 Porsche Macan
Dubbed as the “Cajun” (as in Cayenne Junior), the Macan was destined to slot under the Cayenne but only in terms of size.
‘Macan’ is an Indonesian word that means ‘tiger’ and judging by its performance and outstanding qualities on the road, a simple portmanteau for a name didn’t do it justice. A complete name change was in order to show that this SUV isn’t just a chip of the old block, but rather a brother from another mother.
To get the 411 from the makers of the 911, Porsche Asia Pacific hosted a team of Filipino motoring journalists in Taiwan for a pre-launch test drive and to show us why the Macan is not really another sporty SUV but the first sports car in the SUV segment.
The Macan’s inspiration
A lot of the Macan's design cues takes after the 911 like the side profile, the silhouette and the rear wings while the C-blades in the side air intakes, the spoiler lip and even the shape and position of the headlamps take after the 918 Spyder.
The Porsche Macan’s rear though is what sets itself apart; wide and formidable without losing its attractive shape. The elongated wrap-around taillights that possess a hypnotic deep red somehow completes this highly understated look and stylishly defines the Macan.
The sloping rear windscreen that adds to aerodynamic efficiency gently breaks just at the point where you’ll find the badge name and trim. The letters are so generously spread out to seemingly try and spell it out to you, just in case you still mistake the Macan for something else.
Inside the Macan
The Macan’s interior is universal through all trims but that’s not to say it’s ordinary. The color of the leather changes depending on customer preference and it comes with silver accent strips laid all over the cabin (on the panels, dashboard, steering wheel, shift knob and boot, and the seats) making it worthy of its status as a luxury vehicle.
Its plush 8-way adjustable power front seats are quite nice and have that sportscar feel. The cabin is made for five but it does feel more apt with only four in tow. The 2nd row has 40:20:40 split folding rear seats that can accommodate a good number of things to haul but with full seating configuration, it can accommodate only about four ‘check-in’ type bags.
The center console does have a huge number of buttons and switches that handle everything from climate control, driving dynamics and the rest of the Macan’s other settings. It may be a little overwhelming in the beginning but it's nothing a few clicks behind the wheel can’t help overcome. Porsche could have done better though by devising a more sophisticated yet simpler interface but what’s there does make everything feel fancier.
The entertainment system comes with Bluetooth, iPod, AUX and USB connectivity through a 7-inch touchscreen display. Audio is routed to the Bose-powered 14-speaker system, which meticulous audiophiles can choose to have installed instead of the standard OEM equipment.
What drives it
Three V6 engines are available in different levels of tuning to power the various Macan trims. For now, the ‘entry level’ is the Macan S with a 3.0L bi-turbo petrol engine that puts out 340 PS and 460 Nm of torque. Next is the top-of-the-line Macan Turbo with a 3.6L bi-turbo petrol engine with 400 PS and 550 Nm of torque then there’s Macan S Diesel with a 3.0L turbo diesel engine producing only 258HP but with 580Nm of torque.
All engines are mated to Porsche’s seven-speed Doppelkupplung (PDK) or dual clutch transmission that comes standard with Porsche Traction Management (PTM) and connected to an all-wheel drive system.
All trims have cylindrical coil springs with internal, hydraulic, twin-tube, gas-filled shock absorbers as standard but for better handling and as an option (standard on the Turbo) you can order your Macan with the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive damper control. It features various drive modes - Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus – that lets the control unit adjusts the throttle response, engine dynamics, transmission and even the chassis based on the driving conditions and driver input.
Since Porsche has such a proud racing pedigree, the guys at Stuttgart have generously included a Sport Chrono option that will give you better track time performance, shaving off precious milliseconds from the Macan's lap times depending on the course.
The Macan experience
The Macan S Diesel’s initial takeoff and low-end power is outstanding due to the high amount of torque; like any diesel, however, it does lose its ‘oomph’ at high speeds and high RPMs. The diesel rumble is barely audible but being what it is, it does make a little shimmy when the Automatic Start/Stop function activates.
The Macan S is the more refined sibling with a suave personality. It is more responsive in every way. The acceleration is much more immediate and purposeful and without the lurching and heaving that accompanies vehicles with high amounts of torque. I experienced no lag during acceleration. Power delivery is instantaneous whether at low or high speeds making it behave like a sports car.
The Macan Turbo, without question, exceeds all expectations in terms of brute power. With the horsepower and torque to do it all, the Macan Turbo is absolutely breathtaking. It will buck and twitch if you’ve got a heavy foot but if you learn to temper its power, it is a compact rocket that’s at your beck and call. Porsche claims the Macan Turbo clocked in at 8.21 in Nurburgring.
In terms of safety, Porsche has left no stone unturned and as far as sportiness is concerned, there’s more to every component than meets the eye.
‘The first sports car in the segment’
At first glance I was skeptical with how Porsche is marketing the Macan but after hours behind the wheel, I'm a believer. We only had highway driving to speak of and still need to take it on the racetrack, so we barely scratched the surface of what the Macan can really do. Nevertheless, it was a true eye opener. The 179km test drive was more than enough to show us that the 2014 Porsche Macan is a compact SUV that drives, dives, roars and races like a true sports car that’s built for you to experience ‘life intensified’.