Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review

Published:11 February 2014

Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
  • At a glance
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This is the flagship of the new Porsche Macan range – the Audi Q5-based SUV which sits below the Cayenne in Stuttgart’s range and promises the most driver-focused SUV dynamics ever. It’s Porsche Macan Turbo that develops 394bhp and costs a hefty £59,300.

Is the Porsche Macan Turbo just an Audi Q5 with a rocket up its backside?

No. The Macan owes about as much to the Q5 as the Porsche Cayenne does to the Audi Q7, namely almost nothing. Despite the near-identical architectures, the silhouettes are completely different, the engineering content has been seriously tweaked, and the characters of the Q5 and Macan are poles apart.

The Macan looks sportier, more modern and aggressive than any other crossover in this segment. The Range Rover Evoque no longer has the sole stylistic bragging rights in the world of SUVs…

Is the Macan Turbo as stylish on the inside?

Again, and disappointingly this time, no. The interior of the new Porsche is overly conservative, albeit beautifully finished. The rows of buttons and vertical touchscreen are familiar from every current Porsche bar the stunning 918 Spyder supercar. Yes, it’s solid, but sexy? Not really. No more so than, dare we say it, an Audi Q5…

Cabin let-down swallowed. I’m buying the Macan Turbo for how it goes!

Bring on the engine specifications. Behind that snarling front grille, you get an uprated version of the 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 found in the lower-spec Macan S. So the Macan Turbo isn’t the only model with a turbocharger, but it is the most powerful: there’s 60bhp more power than the Macan S, and a promising 406lb ft from just 1350rpm, maintained until 4500rpm.

Mind you, the all-wheel drive Macan Turbo needs plenty of power. Despite its relatively diminutive size, it weighs a colossal 1928kg. That’s the same as a diesel-powered Audi SQ5 Quattro!

Fortunately, the 394bhp Macan Turbo overcomes its girth with ease. Using the standard-fit seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox, it’ll sprint from 0-62mph in a supercar-baiting 4.8sec, and tops out at a thoroughly adequate 166mph. Spec the Sport Chrono pack, engage launch control and a 4.6sec 0-62mph time is available. It’s a pity that the engine only really clears its throat and sounds truly fruity once you’ve hit the Sport Chrono pack’s ‘Sport Plus’ button, though.

The Macan Turbo is 0.6sec faster in the sprint from 0-62mph, and at 166mph, its top speed is up by 6mph compared to the Macan S. Does that sound like it’s worth paying and extra £16,000 for? We don’t think so.

What about the handling?

Like most cars of this type, how the Macan Turbo behaves depends on which mood you’ve set its on-board brain to. ‘Normal’ is just that. ‘Sport’ makes the V6 respond more promptly and the transmission act faster. Upshifts move notably closer to the redline, downshifts are enhanced by an automatic blipping of the throttle.

‘Sport Plus’ normally firms up the ride, but you can deselect this by prodding the little damper icon button. The engine volume is once again cranked up, and upshifts are delayed to the point of being almost uncomfortable for occupants. ‘Sport Plus’ is certainly the mode of choice for a Macan on track (where the car has spent much development time), but who’s going to be pushing that hard on real roads? Only the launch control function makes Sport Plus worthwhile.

You can turn off all of the driver aids and have as much power oversteer in the Macan Turbo as your sanity allows. It’s amazing that Porsche has developed a tall SUV that can handle like this, but will your average Macan buyer notice or care? Almost certainly not. That won’t stop Porsche selling 50,000 a year, it reckons.

Thumbs up for the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) , however. Even the most compliant mode keeps body roll in check, minimises acceleration squat, and is a useful antidote to brake dive. Shell out for optional air shocks and your Macan Turbo gets a 10mm ride height drop (and can lift it for 40mm of extra off-road clearance) and active roll counteracting. The car will even curtsey by 50mm when parked to make unloading the boot easier. How thoughtful.

Anything else?

Our hard-charging test car drank to the tune of 18mpg. It might be cheaper and less offensive than a Cayenne, but the Macan Turbo still requires a mighty well-stocked wallet to run.

Watch the spec-sheet too. Even on this flagship Macan Turbo, adaptive air suspension, the Sport Chrono pack, carbon brakes and 20in-plus alloys are optional. Treats included as standard are quad exhausts, upgraded steel disc brakes, a bigger 75-litre fuel tank (you’ll need it) and those clever PASM dampers.

Verdict

No doubt about it: the Porsche Macan’s handling is a triumph of engineering over, around and through the laws of physics. And this Turbo version goes like a train and can drift like a true 911 relative. But it’s so polished; the Macan Turbo is soulless, and very pricey in the face of some talented opposition, like the Audi SQ5, or even its Cayenne S Diesel sibling. Plus, fast crossovers like the upcoming £45k, 355bhp Mercedes GLA 45 AMG knock loudly on the Macan’s door.

For a sporting SUV, the Macan Turbo is getting on for dynamic perfection. However, we’re still not sure if the Macan Turbo is quite as entertaining and ultimately rewarding as the identically priced full-size Cayenne V8 diesel.

Perfection is a funny thing. You keep craving it, but once you have it, it often doesn´t take long before you start wishing for some rough edges here and there. Stay tuned for the sweet spot of the Porsche Macan line-up, further down the range, we wager.

Specs

Price when new: £59,300
On sale in the UK: April 2014
Engine: 3604cc 24v V6, twin-turbocharged, 394bhp @ 6000rpm, 406lb ft @ 1350-4500rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch, all-wheel drive
Performance: 4.8sec 0-62mph, 166mph, 31.7mpg, 208g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1925kg/steel and aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4699/1923/1624

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  • Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
  • Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
  • Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
  • Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
  • Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
  • Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
  • Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
  • Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
  • Porsche Macan Turbo (2014) review
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