2017 Porsche Macan: Super-nice, but at a price
By Jil McIntosh
Apr. 17, 2017
Porsche is justifiably famous for its sports cars, but it’s actually SUVs that make up the bulk of its sales. After the Cayenne first put the company back on its feet, it was later joined by a smaller model, the Macan.
The company likes to turn out numerous variants of each model, and the Macan is no exception. It starts with my 252-horsepower tester, simply named the Macan, at $52,700. It then travels through the S, GTS, Turbo (a somewhat confusing name, since all Macan engines are force-fed), and finishes with the 440-horsepower Turbo with Performance Package at $97,600.
Porsche always offers a number of stand-alone options, but my ride was rather sparsely equipped. My add-ons were 19-inch Macan Turbo wheels for $1,890 and a Sport Chrono Package for $1,480, bringing my sport-ute to $56,070 before freight and taxes.
Pros & Cons
- + Comfortable enough for daily driving
- + Sharp handling
- + Well-matched engine/transmission
- - Busy centre stack
- - Missing some key convenience items
- - Auto start/stop system
The Macan essentially looks like a downsized Cayenne, and that’s a good thing. It’s a muscular-looking model, with a large egg-crate grille, deeply sloping hood, and nicely-integrated flares over the wheels. It looks like it’s crouching on its haunches, while the wraparound taillights give it visual width.
The liftgate is power-activated, the wipers are rain-sensing (and like all of these, they get easily confused by drizzle), and front and rear park assist is standard. A sunroof is optional and missing on mine, as are roof rails. I can take or leave the glass roof (they let in light to make the cabin feel more spacious, but they’re too noisy when open) but I thought my Macan looked much sleeker without the rails.
Like the exterior, the cabin also looks like a scaled-down version of the larger Cayenne. All the hallmarks of the brand are here: the soft-touch surfaces, the brushed seat inlays, and the metal accents. The twin rows of buttons on either side of the shifter are intimidating at first, but they`re actually quite intuitive, if a little distracting before you figure out where the ones are that you use the most and so can find at a glance. But since the buttons take up so much space, there’s relatively little console storage for small items.
The seats are typically German: very firm but also very supportive, and so while they lack the cushy feel of some manufacturers’ chairs, they’re much easier on your spine on long drives. The rear seats are also lightly bolstered and supportive, and legroom is good for the vehicle’s size. The cargo compartment is deep and square for swallowing large amounts of cargo, but if it isn’t enough, the 40/20/40 rear chairs fold virtually flat.
That said, while you are getting into a Porsche for less than $53,000, there are some sacrifices to make for that. There is no pushbutton start, no proximity key, and no navigation or adaptive cruise control unless you order them separately.
The optional Sport Chrono Package includes a handsome stopwatch on the dash, which ties into a screen within the instrument cluster. The track-intended system can keep track of laps, the lap time, and the lap distance, handling these tasks for up to twelve hours at a stretch.
As with other features, much of the technology is add-on. So the base Macan comes with a seven-inch touchscreen that contains Bluetooth, an audio interface, CD player and backup camera, but no navigation, even though there’s a hard button on the control panel for it. There is satellite radio, though, and an eight-speaker system with an integrated amplifier.
It’s all very easy to use, especially with those buttons, which let you quickly bring up a function and includes a volume dial. I also like that the touchscreen gives you a decisive click whenever you tap an icon, confirming that you’ve hit in the right spot and it’s going to obey your command.
Ah, but isn’t a Porsche less about smartphone integration and beeping electronic nannies, and more about how it feels to pilot? This may not be the most powerful Macan, but it’s still a great driver, with the sports-oriented feel you’d expect and that’s sometimes lacking in premium utility vehicles.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is clasped to a seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK, for the rest of us), one of the best dual-clutch direct-shift transmissions on the market. Setting up the next gear as soon as the previous one is engaged, it produces lightning-fast changes, whether on its own or manually with the wheel-mounted paddles. Optimizing the engine’s performance, it actually feels stronger than 252 ponies and is more than enough to get you scooting in a hurry. And while some dual-clutch units can occasionally stumble when downshifting, I never experienced any of that with this unit.
The engine has start-stop technology, shutting off at idle and then starting up when you release the brake. It’s a bit jarring and there’s a button to turn it off if you prefer.
The ride is firm while still managing to keep all but the worst road surfaces out of the cabin. While not added to my tester, you can option a dial-in active suspension for $1,560, or an adjustable air suspension for $3,140.
My Macan’s Sport and Sport Plus gave it a sharper edge that was great fun on the sole curvy road in my otherwise grid-pattern area, but in regular driving mode, it’s responsive without being too over-the-top. That’s important because, realistically, most buyers are going to be commuting from the condo to the office and don’t want to be tempering a twitchy car from stoplight to stoplight. The all-wheel-drive system spends most of its time attending to the rear wheels, but distributes power instantly to the front when necessary for extra grip. All in all, this thing’s a fantastic driver.
But if you do want all that driving goodness, be prepared to stretch your wallet. The Macan’s starting price of $52,700 is considerably higher than most of the initial tags of the competition. On top of that, it’s unlikely that anyone gets out of the showroom without packing on at least a few options, which add up shockingly fast.
The Macan shares many of its parts with Audi’s Q5, but that model starts at $44,950. Other rivals include the BMW X3 at $46,050; Jaguar F-Pace at $50,900; Land Rover’s Evoque at $49,990; and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Your car name here …at $45,150.
But then, you get a Porsche because it’s a Porsche, right? And while I like the Cayenne, those who don’t need something that big will be equally satisfied with its little brother. You can certainly go faster by moving up into the Macan’s stronger engines if you want the bragging rights, but from my driver’s seat, the “starter model” does everything just fine.