► New 2018 Macan driven
► It's just as crucial as the 911
► And still a very good thing
In just four years, the Macan has become Porsche’s best-selling model. And where Stuttgart once hoped its second SUV would emulate the success of the Cayenne and find around 50,000 homes each year, it’s came close to doubling that number in 2017 as over 97,000 left its Leipzig factory. Chances are it’ll near six figures again by the end of 2018, and the fact it outsold the 911, Cayman and Boxster combined through the first three quarters of this year is proof of its impact/success (delete as applicable, depending on your Porsche viewpoint).
Which means, while all the recent fuss has been about a new 911, the model that matters just as much (and perhaps even more) is Porsche’s rival for the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC.
And I thought the 911’s design was at glacial pace…
You mean you haven’t clocked the new daytime running lights in the intakes or the fact LED headlights are now standard?
Full details on the 2018 Porsche Macan
It’s because while the first Cayenne was an ugly bugger, the first Macan was a much better resolved attempt to transfer 911 DNA onto an SUV, and that means not much needed changing. Alterations are pretty much limited to a new rear light bar stretching the width of rear and aping rest of Porsche range. The letters ‘ P O R S C H E’ are also emblazoned through it, but if the reason for doing so is to raise brand awareness, they’re darn near indecipherable when the LEDs are lit.
Presumably the differences are more fundamental inside?
If you’re up to speed on air vent placement, then yes. We’re not joking, because Porsche has upped the size of the central touchscreen to such an extent (from 7.2 to 10.9 inches) that it’s had to reposition the HVAC system to make room. It’s the same system first seen in the Mk2 Panamera, and most recently the Mk3 Cayenne, which means slick graphics, real-time traffic info and improved voice control.
But for the touchscreen-averse, there’s still also a plethora of buttons festooned around the gearstick, a la the Cayman and Boxster, rather than the haptic feedback panels in the Cayenne and Panamera which necessitate taking your eyes off the road.
Interior dimensions remain unchanged, which means just enough room for one tall bloke to sit behind another, plus a reasonable-sized 500-litre boot. Equally untouched is the low-set driving position, and high-rise dash, so while you still sit above saloon and hatchback drivers, you feel more like you’re in rather than atop the Macan. Quality, fit and finish is top notch.
New options include a heated windscreen, an ioniser to improve cabin air quality, and adaptive cruise control to improve life in traffic jams. A lovely GT sports steering wheel from the 911 is also available (and makes you think small sports car, not big SUV) and if you opt for the Sport Chrono Package, tacked onto it is the Sport Response rotary controller – which was first seen on the 918 Spyder and which is still nowhere near as tactile as Ferrari’s manettino.
What’s under the bonnet? Presumably not something horizontally opposed…
Alas not, but hardcore Porschephiles will rejoice in the fact that, at least in Stuttgart, diesel is dead. Instead there’s a choice of a revised turbocharged 2.0 (an inline four from the VW Group, rather than the flat four found in the 718 sports car twins) or a new 3.0-litre V6 Macan S that’s already powering the Panamera and Cayenne. Also set to be pinched from that pair is a 400bhp+ 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, destined for the Macan Turbo, and usurping the old 3.6 twin-turbo V6.
A hybrid would be the obvious replacement for the now defunct diesel, especially when 60% of Panameras sold in Europe are electrified. But the Macan’s platform (related to the Audi Q5) was never designed for it, and despite accounting for 40% of sales in Europe, diesel power only made up 15% of worldwide Macans.
Instead, the four-pot petrol (which had a 40% share in Europe but also 40% worldwide, in no small part because of China’s tax system) is now set to grow in popularity. Given that, plus the new WLTP test, the focus has been on meeting global emissions targets so the torque figures remain unchanged and (at least in Europe where a particulate filter is now standard) peak power is actually down from 249bhp to 242bhp.
What about the chassis?
You can have your Macan in three flavours, with standard steel springs, with PASM adaptive dampers (a £816 extra), or with air suspension and PASM (£1860). We tried a Macan with adaptive dampers, and a Macan S with both the optional suspension systems.
The air springs offer a broader breadth of abilities, from soft and comfortable (perhaps a tad too much) to stiff but still surprisingly compliant (at least on our Mallorcan test route) yet the steel suspension with adaptive dampers does a fine job too. We’d recommend a Macan with PASM adaptive dampers, or if you’re going for an S, then the air suspension.
How does the new Macan drive?
There are myriad changes that Porsche has hardly acknowledged, instead concentrating on the stuff it knows will appeal to the public (like the new infotainment system). Yet beneath the skin there’s aluminium instead of steel front suspension components (saving 1.5kg of unsprung mass), narrower front tyres (to improve turn-in) and detailed changes to the brake system that’s dreary to discuss but Porsche claims results in sharper response and more consistent pedal feedback. Overall, the heft of the steering to the bite of the brakes, from the stability of the chassis to the response to your inputs, it’s by far the most dynamic of its ilk.
As for the engines, the 2.0-litre needs winding up to give its best but never feels like its letting the side down – and sounds better than the 349bhp V6 to boot. Which, by contrast, demands less throttle to pull off the same overtaking manoeuvres or progress out of tight bends, so your driving style is more relaxed, more effortless. If the latter is your powertrain of choice, then you’ll probably want the optional switchable sports exhaust, which emits a proper sonorous howl under load but is quiet enough at a cruise to always leave on.
On the one hand, deep down, the Macan’s related to an Audi Q5 (which is still a fine thing) and now you’re most likely to buy it with a 1984cc engine.
On the other its dynamic abilities are way beyond your expectations of an SUV – and continue to set a standard none can match. Add in the badge, the refinement, the comfort, the top-notch interior, and with good reason it’ll continue to be Porsche’s best-selling model.
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