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2015 Porsche Macan S: A cash cow with great moves
By Chris Chase
Dec. 22, 2014
Porsche’s Macan, new for 2015, is the brand’s first crack at a compact crossover, and you can expect it to be two things: as profitable for Porsche as the larger Cayenne has been, and as deeply disliked by the ardent enthusiasts who feel Porsche should build sports cars and nothing else.
Perhaps Porsche expects it to be popular in Indonesia: the name is, as I learned while writing this, derived from the Javanese word for tiger. Unlike a Tiger, the Macan shares its platform with the Audi Q5.
Pros & Cons
- + Well-matched engine/transmission
- + Sharp handling
- + Generous low-end torque
- - Value for money
- - Premium fuel required
- - Interior design
Unsurprisingly, the Macan looks a lot like a Cayenne scaled down by a quarter. The taillights are one of my favourite details, looking like they were scalloped out of the sheet metal.
While many other auto writers I know were tripping over themselves to evaluate the Macan Turbo, I was more keen to drive this one, the lower-spec S model (which is also turbocharged, just less-so), and certainly the one that more shoppers will drive away with.
Prices start at $54,300, which sounds attractive on paper (more on that shortly); my tester was optioned with air suspension, backup camera with front and rear park assist, 19-inch Turbo-style wheels, and the sport chrono package, for a total cost of just over $63,000.
Here’s the familiar Porsche centre stack, laid nearly flat atop the console. I like the way it looks from a design perspective, but functionally, there’s too much going on. I suppose I should praise Porsche for its liberal use of hard buttons instead of couching controls in the touchscreen, but I feel like there’s a happy medium between the two, and Porsche isn’t even trying to find it.
Small-item storage is limited; in fact, there’s really no good place to stash the wallet and smartphone many of us guys want out of our pockets while we drive; what looks like a covered bin below the touchscreen is actually a CD player you can keep hidden away from friends who’ll ask why your new car still comes with a CD player.
Porsche left the optional ($1,910) sunroof out of my tester. That meant lots of headroom, but also an interior that felt dark under the black headliner.
For $63,000, this Macan didn’t come with navigation. I can accept that; the backup camera and park assist system are more useful inclusions given the Macan’s not-great rearward sightlines. What’s cheap is leaving out an auto-dimming rear view mirror. Laughably, it’s available, but only as part of the $3,380 Premium and $7,260 Premium Plus packages. At this level, it should be standard: in 2015, a mirror with a manual day/night lever belongs in an economy car (and barely there, anymore). But hey, you can pay $385 to have your Macan’s key painted to match the colour of the car.
At least there’s some proven tech in the Macan’s drivetrain. Porsche’s PDK (the German acronym for dual-clutch transmission) is standard, and as always, it’s good. Left to itself, it shifts when it should and does so smoothly. Sport and sport-plus modes make it hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively in deceleration, and full-manual mode works beautifully via the shift lever, or the wheel-mounted paddles.
Opting for the air suspension adds variable ride comfort: switching on sport or sport-plus modes toggles a firmer ride that can also be selected in the standard drive mode.
The auto industry has officially reached the point where 340 horsepower feels ordinary. Porsche quotes a zero-to-100 km/h acceleration time of 5.4 seconds, but the Macan doesn’t feel as fast as that figure sounds. The torquey engine is, however, perfectly suited to the odd full-throttle blast when traffic conditions allow, and sounds great doing it.
According to Natural Resources Canada’s new five-cycle test, fuel economy estimates are 13.7/10.3 L/100 km (city/highway); in cold weather and city driving, my Macan averaged a shade under 16 L/100 km.
Aside from the Porsche name and the nice-sounding engine, there’s a lot missing from the Macan in the lower reaches of its price range. For about three-quarters of my Macan’s as-tested price, you could buy a structurally-similar Audi Q5 with most of the same equipment, albeit with two-thirds the engine.
For Porsche, that’s the price of platform-sharing: the Macan’s very nice, but performance-wise, the Q5 makes a lot more sense for 90 percent of the buyers shopping for an upscale crossover. That doesn’t even consider the many mid-priced crossovers that can be made arguably more luxurious than the Macan I drove, for around forty grand.
Crossovers might be the vehicles keeping Porsche profitable (and if you think its sports cars are even remotely cool, you should be thankful for that), but they also provide a stark example of how heavily the company banks on its name being enough to sell cars, with value for money barely a consideration.
The Macan is very easy to like as a driver’s vehicle, but when other German crossovers look like a bargain next to it, it’s not hard to see how vehicles like this are helping Porsche rake it in.