Carguide Middle East test drives the 2019 Porsche Macan in Germany. Has Porsche managed to boost their midsize SUV offering?
It isn’t too often that we find ourselves driving down the autobahn at breakneck speeds, with the rich tones of an early Stevie Wonder filling the cabin – in fact, the author usually avoids engaging the sound system completely or if it all only as background ambience. This time around we didn’t have much choice – we had surrendered the DJ function to the other journalist in the car. The tone was all late 60’s and early 70’s vocals, solo guitars and some soul. Distinct, yet so evocative.
Well, what’s all that got to do with the new Porsche Macan, you may ask? Nothing much really – we liked the music, learnt some facts about the singers we hadn’t heard of and reconnected with a familiar few. That somehow is the tale of the new Porsche Macan too. It stands distinct from the outgoing one in terms of its visual signature, gains a more powerful and another completely new engine and in the bargain also gets a bundle of contemporary features and technology. Distinct, yet ever so connected to the identity.
This time around the Macan gets cleaner and sharper lines, with some influences that spawned in the interim dictating the vehicle’s final look. The headlights get a quad LED DRL effect, with a full-LED headlight with 25W output. Optionally, the Macan could land up with the 35W Porsche dynamic Lighting system that factors in cornering and compensates for oncoming traffic.
The body lines are closer to the sports car series now, with sharper hood lines a more defined panel treatment running from front fender to rear. The rear itself is standout distinct from the previous generation due to the strongly horizontal feel of the LED taillights that stretch across the width of the car. This is further enhanced by the twin exhaust pots that sit low down in the corners.
The Porsche Macan S takes that look and adds in a differentiated grille and fascia treatment and uses a quad exhaust treatment, albeit split into two pairs of roundels instead of the trapezoidal Macan metal.
Inside the car, the Porsche Macan offers the biggest change of all by bringing together the very tactile feel of the button rich Porsche sports car centre console, with a 10.9″ touchscreen and the almost familiar layout of the IP with its three roundels and a version that actually switched the layout parameters depending on drive mode. You also get the standard one with the tachometer in the centre, a digital readout on the right and the speedometer off to the left.
While all the electronic gimmickry draws your attention, you should really spare some time looking at the rest of the dashboard. The styling is so much better, with a pair of strong chrome wings outlining the two cockpit zones and small touches like the climate control layout just below the large display. The display seems to bleed into the switches while the other three sides of the panel get a black framing. And then of course there are the array of switches on the centre console – with drive mode on that too. If you opt for the sport chrono package then along with the central chrono the steering wheel gets the new drive mode knob, with the instant boost mode button that throws in more power just to overtake or along those lines. And the steering wheel itself now comes from the sportscar bin.
The seats are now either sporty or sportier (in the S), with perforated leather and seat heating and cooling options. And the car gets the option of an enhanced insulated windscreen – an extra layer of acoustic film in the glass assembly does the job of substantially reducing heat and UV rays, makes it more difficult to break and of course reduces NVH levels.
The base engine is a 2.0-litre inline four cylinder unit, which have seen previously on the Macan. It has been retuned to offer a 252hp peak output and a healthy 370Nm of torque from a boost pressure of one bar. The Macan S gets the new V6-turbo with the twin-scroll turbocharger placed in the V of the engine. This sees a switch in the position of the exhaust ports to the inside, shortening the paths and offering a quicker response from the turbo unit. this architecture is derived from Porsche’s V8 4.0-litre unit.
Both engine offerings come mated to Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK.
The regular steel spring suspension has in itself undergone a change with the introduction of aluminum components in order to reduce the unit’s unsprung mass. Depending on grade and whether you are looking at the Macan S or indeed what’s offered as an option when purchasing, you can also get active damper management, active ride height control through air-suspension and the integration of Porsche’s torque vectoring offering.
And then of course there’s the Sport Chrono package. You get the new steering wheel based controller for the drive modes, a choice of modes that takes you to sport plus and the magic button that offers an extra 20hp of instant power.
There’s really no better environment to test the Macan mid-size SUV than the autobahns of Germany. The advantage is that there are lots of little towns and villages connected to the mega road network, offering a range of scenes as well as twisty single and two lane roads where the handling of the car gets checked out. Admittedly, we were in the North between Hamburg and Rostock, so there was a shortage of hills around.
The Macan is itself an interesting car to drive. it gives you some low down torque, exactly where you need it and for the life of you you wouldn’t think that it had only two liters of volume. But, it hasn’t lost its propensity to let out a turbo ‘bark’ at around the 2,000 rpm point. In a straight line, without really pushing too hard you find yourself doing just fine in the 205-215 km/h zone, through traffic on the bahn.
The S is thus in a way incremental over the base Macan. It too has the ‘bark’ although not quite as prominent and the mid-range is a dream zone, you only need to tap your way through it to squeeze the performance out. In both cases the steering has not lost the preciseness and immediacy that it was famed for – you flick your way through lane changes and it is aim and shoot on curves.
The ride quality is also spot on. Especially with ride height control, the car squats into the high speed sprint, lowering the CG and tightening the steering response too. The tyre selection has also changed, with sizes from 18 to 21 inches and both the Macan and the Macan S use sportscar style mixed tyre sizes. with the broader rubber available on the rear axle. That little bit of extra grip goes well with the aggressive characteristics of the sporty all-wheel drive. The rear-wheel bias is identifiable and you can push the Macan S really hard. We managed to top the car out at 225 in traffic.
Quite simply the Macan refresh is the Macan that should have always been. The obvious shortcomings have all been addressed, the power offering has improved and the interior is modernized to reflect Porsche’s current design idiom.
The sporstcar theme is so much stronger this time around, yet it is refreshing that Porsche have stopped referring to the Macan as the 911 of SUVs. That barrier still remains, yet that’s why they have GTS models isn’t it?
There may be a bit of rationalization of prices of the Macan and Macan S in the showrooms, but we feel that the incremental changes will more than offset a small rise. As usual, the real cream is in the dealer specced options and the extras on offer.