► Electric Porsche Macan prototype tested
► The first car we’ve tested on the PPE platform
► Official unveiling expected in early 2024
You have to feel for Ben Weinberger, Porsche’s affable spokesperson for the Macan and Cayenne model lines. He had it all worked out. Curious parties would ask him: ‘So Ben, how much of the new Macan is actually new?’ And with a flourish he’d point at the badge on the nose and proudly declare it the only carryover part. ‘Except now we have a new badge [Porsche recently updated it] so actually nothing is carried over,’ he chuckles.
The all-new Macan is exactly that, then: all new. Except that the pre-production prototypes we’re driving have the old badge, so – much like everything else – they’re covered over with black tape. But the car is also late. Originally expected in 2023 it has, like a fine wine or a particularly tardy glacier, taken its time. It’s now looking like late 2024, following a global unveiling early next year. The first Porsche on a bespoke electric platform developed with group engineers from Audi and beyond, it’s a big job, no doubt.
Porsche Macan electric: technical details
The new Macan delivers similar performance at a lower price point to the Taycan (unconfirmed, but expect a lot of overlap with the current car’s £55k-£75k slice of the market). Another 800-volt platform, the Macan’s take on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) is built around a 100kWh lithium-ion battery pack promising in excess of 320 miles of range.
‘Charging times and power are comparable with the Taycan: 270kW, so 60 miles of range in less than four minutes,’ explains Macan head of charging Stephan Hess. ‘There are so many factors that influence the charging speed but these numbers should be achievable.’
The Macan’s price point doesn’t allow for the Taycan’s high-voltage booster. Hess, who studied quantum physics before busying himself with all matters charging, EV and PHEV, worked around the problem. ‘The Taycan has a booster, which costs money and takes up space in the package. Instead, we use “bank” charging on the Macan. It uses software and some high-voltage switches in the battery to switch the battery in half, so it looks like a 400-volt battery to the charger and we get more efficient charging without the booster.’
In terms of power, the new Macan range starts where the current flagship, the GTS, taps out. So that’s some 430bhp in the lesser of the two initial electric powertrain offerings and more than 600bhp in the range-topper, the Turbo, for a 0-62mph time of well under four seconds. And 738lb ft of torque naturally dwarfs even the current GTS’s 406lb ft of twist.
Weight does creep up, insidiously you might suggest, but not by a life-changing amount. The current Macan GTS weighs a smidge under two tonnes. The new car, complete with wardrobe-sized battery and not-light new hardware like rear-wheel steering, sits between 2100kg and 2200kg.
Porsche Macan electric: how does it drive?
Both the powertrains use twin e-motors, but without the Taycan’s two-speed rear gearbox, because the Macan’s performance targets weren’t quite so outlandish. On the road the delta between the two versions feels a lot bigger than 170bhp.
The lesser car is fine; fast even. But its pace never truly impresses, its straight-line fireworks dampened by that mass, an impressive level of rolling refinement that sanitises any sensation of speed and a long-travel but nicely calibrated throttle pedal.
By contrast the Turbo is irrepressible, launching from roundabouts like a rock from a sling and savaging steep climbs as if gravity’s been temporarily switched off. Overtakes just sort of happen, like blinking or breathing. And, while some will decry its hollow artificiality, my inner child adores the synthetic powertrain soundtrack. Part Star Wars, part hybrid endurance racer at Sebring, so deftly does its intensity wax and wane with throttle position that it feels more right than it really should.
The steering is direct and almost slack-free around the straight-ahead. The suspension combines real compliance, even in Sport Plus (damping can be set irrespective of drive mode) with impressive roll control. The Macan feels mighty from where I’m sitting (which is not swimming-pool-lifeguard high, as you might expect on a car with underfloor batteries; the new Macan’s lowest hip point is actually 24mm lower than that of the outgoing car’s).
The absence of e-pedal weirdness undoubtedly helps accessibility, and the Macan continues the Taycan’s practice of going without paddles behind the steering wheel with which to alter the level of regen. The brakes are powerful, with a firm-ish pedal and without a trace of that soggy vagueness that plagues so many EVs as the regenerative braking hands over to actual calipers, pistons and discs.
‘We don’t have the same steering hardware [as the Q6 e-Tron, the first PPE Audi],’ says head of vehicle dynamics Maurice van de Weerd. ‘Mechanically we are more direct, and we are even more direct in the cars with the rear-axle steering [which features on this new-generation car].’
In terms of chassis hardware, van der Weerd has brake-based torque vectoring and two-valve dampers to play with, along with an e-diff and the aforementioned rear-wheel steering. The torque vectoring is, he insists, low in the mix, particularly on the rear-steer cars. Why? ‘Because braking makes the car slower, not faster, right?’ Right.
The dampers, meanwhile, are mighty impressive, imbuing the chassis with so much roll control it doesn’t feel compromised by the lack of active anti-roll control, a feature incompatible with the Macan’s price point.
Porsche Macan electric: first impressions
Sensational to drive in flagship guise and as good as it needs to be in its more humble variants, Porsche’s all-in electrification of the Macan looks less and less like a gamble the more you drive it.
As well as being an immediate and very accessible car – the acclimatisation period is measured in moments, not minutes or hours – the Macan’s grip, power and poise, and their adjustable interplay, completely immerse you in the driving. As with any good Porsche.