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Porsche Macan review

Introduction

The Porsche Macan has made its name simply by being the best. It might not look like the king of the premium SUVs, but from behind the wheel, there’s nothing on the road that can match it. Even the brilliant BMW X3 has never been able to live with the Macan’s poise, quality and performance.

So when the time came to update the Macan, Porsche found itself at something of a loss. The basic design turns eight years old in 2022, and that’s about as old as cars get in this day and age. But the Macan is still the top dog, so changes have been sympathetic and subtle. But is that enough to ensure the Macan remains the most impressive SUV you can lease, or have increasingly talented rivals caught up?

Select's rating score* - 4.6 / 5

At a Glance

The Porsche name might be synonymous with sports cars, but SUVs are now the company’s bread and butter. After some clunky initial attempts with the Cayenne, Porsche has finally cracked the idea of grafting sports car styling onto a 4x4, and the Macan is now a good-looking premium SUV.

Inside, there’s no doubting the Porsche build quality or the driver-orientated set-up, although there are some chunkier features that mark this out as an SUV. And we don’t just mean the higher driving position, plentiful rear space and big boot.

And it isn’t just sports car looks that slot neatly into the Macan recipe. The Porsche also has some sports car handling characteristics that make it a driver’s dream. Fluid and responsive, it’s a brilliant engineering showcase that proves SUVs don’t have to be clunky. As a result, and despite its age, the Macan is also the best SUV you can lease.


Key Features

The primary appeal of the Macan is the way it drives, mixing hatchback handling with the performance of a sports saloon, then wrapping it in a more practical body. But there’s more to the Porsche than just performance. This is a true luxury SUV with a gloriously built interior jam-packed with tactile plastics, soft leather and reassuringly sturdy switchgear. It’s a lesson in quality.

And the Macan does the sensible stuff, too. The boot is a good size, there’s plenty of space in the back and there’s a great touchscreen infotainment system in the dashboard. The satellite image overlay on the map is a neat touch, and the option of displaying a tiny map screen in the instrument cluster is also a smart addition. There are some fiddly menus and some of the instrument display graphics feel a little dated, but it’s all there and it all works well. That’s German engineering for you.


Performance & Drive

This is what the Macan is all about. It’s billed as a sports car in practical clothing, and it delivers. Few cars of any shape, size or price can match the Macan for handling and performance, and the fact it can behave like a properly well-sorted hot hatchback when it’s this big and this heavy is a remarkable feat of engineering.

But the heart and soul of the Macan is the engine range, which comprises three fabulous petrol-powered motors. The cheapest option, which is simply badged ‘Macan’ is arguably the most attractive for the majority of customers, offering solid performance and refinement without breaking the bank. The 2.0-litre petrol engine is essentially pinched from a VW Golf GTI, although Porsche has tuned it up to produce 265hp. With four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, the ‘basic’ Macan can get from 0-62mph in a hot hatch-rivalling 6.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 144mph.


That performance is highly respectable – particularly for an entry-level car – and the 2.0-litre engine sounds better than you might expect, but it does drone a bit at higher engine revolutions. For the most part, though, it’s quiet and capable, although it lacks the grunt and effortlessness of the larger engines in the range.

Which is why our heads might recommend the standard Macan to others, but our hearts would drag us towards the two six-cylinder versions. The mid-range model is called the Macan S, and that uses a 2.9-litre V6 to produce 380hp – enough to get from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 161mph. The S makes a fabulous noise, crackling and snarling its way up the rev range, and it’s that sound that endears it to us more than the basic four-cylinder car. Were it our money, this is the Macan we’d lease.

But those who simply must have the fastest Macan will want the GTS model, which uses the same 2.9-litre V6 engine but squeezes an extra 60hp from it to provide a total of 440hp. That cuts the 0-62mph time to 4.5 seconds and extends the top speed to 169mph.


Every version of the Macan is brilliant to drive, but the 2.0-litre car is arguably the most balanced, thanks to its lighter engine block. It gives the car a slightly more natural feel, whereas the S and GTS feel a little more front-heavy. The standard Macan is also very supple and stable on its steel springs, whereas the GTS, which rides on sportily-tuned air suspension, feels slightly more brittle on uneven surfaces. No version is too firm, however, and all make very smooth companions on a motorway blast.

But the sheer agility has to be experienced to be believed. The Mazda CX-5 and BMW X3 are some of the finest-handling SUVs on the market (we’d even call the Mazda a budget Macan), but neither car can match the way the Macan behaves. The high-riding body is so well controlled and the responses to your inputs are so immediate that the Macan can match the likes of the VW Golf GTI in the corners. On a track, we suspect it might even be faster.

And that’s the real beauty of the Macan. Because it handles like a hot hatchback but has the all-wheel drive and ground clearance of a proper 4x4, it manages to suit any kind of track – muddy farm tracks or silky race tracks. We would never take a Macan on any serious off-road course, but it’ll cope with a muddy field or the snow in a ski resort.


Running Costs & Emissions

Nobody will choose a Macan to save money, and every version is unquestionably expensive to run. Since Porsche ditched the S Diesel model, the entire range is petrol-only, and there’s no hybrid or plug-in hybrid option. Which leaves the standard 2.0-litre Macan as the most efficient choice – at least on paper. Officially, it’ll manage between 26.4 and 28mpg, while the S returns 24.1-25.4mpg and the GTS’ economy is identical.

But while the V6 models might look less economical on paper, remember you may not feel the need to work them as hard as the 2.0-litre engine, and experience with all three cars tells us the economy differences will be minimal.

And as for emissions, all three are equally polluting. The 2.0-litre’s 228-243g/km official figures are slightly better than those for the S and GTS, but every Macan is going to be expensive to tax. Company car drivers will have to pay the top rate no matter which version they choose.


Interior & Technology

The Macan may major on driving dynamics, but don’t underestimate the allure of that Porsche cabin. The material quality is excellent, but it’s the way in which those materials have been stuck together that really impresses. We don’t care what you drive, from a Fiat to a Ferrari, there are few things that can match the Porsche for quality.

While you revel in the solidity of the buttons and the resistance in the door handles or the gear lever, it’s easy to gloss over the design. The Macan will not win many awards for inventiveness, but the recent facelift has brought improvements to the centre console, which makes it feel less button-heavy and more modern to boot.


That impression is helped by the central touchscreen infotainment system, which is lifted from every other Porsche you care to mention. The display is snazzy, the functionality is great and the vibe suits the Porsche brand, although there are a few fiddly menus that make life interesting when you’re on a fast road or dodging traffic in town.

But that isn’t the big let-down for this car. The one and only real problem is the instrument display, which is a strange cross between a digital cluster and an old-school analogue set-up. There’s nothing wrong with that per se – the system in the 911 and Cayenne models works a treat – but the Macan’s display is a previous-generation one that looks dated alongside the ultra-modern Audi Q5 and BMW X3. It works well, and the little sat nav display is neat, but it doesn’t have the resolution or the style of a modern system, and that makes the 2021 update feel a bit half-baked.


Practicality & Boot Space

As a sports SUV, the Macan could perhaps be forgiven for lacking practicality, but not a bit of it. The 500-litre boot is slightly smaller than that of the BMW X3 (550 litres) but a 50-litre deficit is hardly the end of the world. There’s more than enough space for most things, and the back seats will fold if needed to free up even more space.

Alternatively, you can use those rear seats to accommodate people, and that’s something they’re perfectly capable of doing. The Macan feels light and airy, and four adults will have no trouble sitting comfortably. Exceptionally tall adults – those over about 6ft 5in – might find the roofline a little low, but anyone smaller than that will probably be fine. Kids will certainly have enough room, and you can rest assured the quality is enough to cut the likelihood of anything getting broken. No guarantees with children, though. Obviously.


Safety

The Macan has not been crash-tested by Euro NCAP since its introduction in 2014, and the safety organisation now describes the impressive five-star rating rating as “expired”. Admittedly, the test has changed and is now more rigorous, but the Macan scored solidly across the board, and there’s no real reason to suspect it would prove considerably less capable if it were tested again tomorrow.

That said, the safety assistance technology side of things is a more prominent part of the test these days, and that’s where the Macan lacks a little generosity. As standard, the car comes with lane departure warning, cruise control and parking sensors, but blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control, which maintains a safe distance to the vehicle in front, are optional extras. The automatic emergency braking system, which is standard on pretty much everything these days and is designed to prevent accidents caused by inattentiveness, is also an optional extra that comes in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control.


Options

The Macan range is dead simple, with just three models to choose from. All three are mostly differentiated by their engines, rather than their equipment, but there are some relatively subtle differences.

The basic Macan comes with everything you need. There’s part-leather, part-Sport Tex microsuede upholstery, heated front seats, satellite navigation and three-zone automatic climate control, as well as 19-inch alloy wheels, an automatic tailgate and the Apple CarPlay smartphone integration technology. Oh, and there are parking sensors in the front and rear bumpers, so the only things really missing are the reversing camera and the Android Auto smartphone tech.


Moving up to the Macan S gets you very little, except for some 20-inch alloy wheels and the glorious V6 engine, but the GTS model adds a little more equipment. Not only do you get the black exterior trim, but you get air suspension with a 10mm lower ride height, 21-inch alloy wheels and lots of black exterior trim. You also get the Sport Chrono pack, with driving modes that change the car’s characteristics.

In truth, Porsche is a bit stingy with its kit – particularly on the more expensive versions – and you will definitely want to raid the options list. Were it us, we’d go for an S with full leather, the Sport Chrono pack and a reversing camera, and possibly the air suspension. We might also go for the Bose sound system, the heated windscreen and a few choice styling tweaks…


Rival Cars

The Macan’s fiercest rivals are its compatriots: the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, all of which has its own unique set of talents. The BMW is the driver’s choice, offering impressive cornering and some great engines, while the Mercedes is the more comfortable, more stylish option. The Audi is closely related to the Porsche, but has somehow contrived to be less interesting, less exciting and less attractive. It has better tech, though, and build quality is almost as good.

But the premium car market isn’t just for the Germans now. Jaguar has built the fabulous F-Pace, which challenges the X3 for handling prowess and offers vastly improved build quality, but somehow isn’t as rounded as any of the Germans. Nevertheless, the high-performance SVR model is enormously good fun.


Then there’s the Volvo XC60, a car that simply ignores any real pretence of sportiness but comes with an ultra-stylish interior, understated image and some classy on-board technology. There are also some plug-in hybrid options that offer an appealing mix of economy and performance, but a lack of six-cylinder engines will be disappointing for those who value effortless speed.

Or there’s the Range Rover Velar, which is incredibly good to look at, but lacks the precision and agility of the F-Pace to which it’s so closely related. For more sportiness, consider the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, which is an absolute riot in top-end Quadrifoglio form, and looks the business no matter which trim you choose.

Alternatively, there’s the DS 7 Crossback, which isn’t particularly sporty, but it’s refreshingly different and quite likeable, in a distinctly French kind of way. Or you could leave Europe altogether and opt for the new Lexus NX, which is much improved and is now available with an impressive plug-in hybrid system.


Verdict & Next Steps

The Macan is definitely starting to feel its age – of that there can be no doubt – but the Porsche’s dominance is such that this lightest of revamps is still enough to keep it ahead of the game. Few other SUVs can match its stunning handling, plentiful performance or exquisite build quality, and while the BMW X3 is starting to run the Macan close, it’s still the premium SUV of choice.

Where to next?

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**Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Porsche Macan

**Correct as of 04/02/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £4,622.49 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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