Porsche Macan Turbo: Review

It might be Porsche's smallest SUV, based on the Audi Q5, and it might be very expensive. But, to discount the Porsche Macan Turbo, before driving it, would be a mistake


Porsche Macan Turbo action shot



Let's just get the hard to digest bit out of the way first. The new Porsche Macan will cost around Rs 90 lakh when it is launched in India in June. And that is for the 3-litre Macan S Diesel model. The one we have here is the Macan Turbo. 400PS, 3.6-litre biturbo V6 and a 0-100kmph time of 4.6 seconds. It can also hit a top speed of 265kmph. So, clearly in Turbo guise, the Macan is a very fast car, no matter how you look at it. That, it is, in fact, an SUV, only makes these numbers feel that much more special. The Macan Turbo will cost almost a crore.


The competition for the Porsche Macan meanwhile - the Audi Q5, the BMW X3 and the Range Rover Evoque - are a lot cheaper; almost half the price in some cases. Can then, the new Porsche Macan, being marketed as the sports car in its class of SUVs, justify this price tag? We are in Dubai to find out. The Macan is the smaller brother of the Cayenne. And it looks like a scaled down version of the larger Porsche SUV; only from the front three-quarters, mind you. Because from the rear, the Macan is more stylish, sportier and more likeable. We love the tail lamps, the roof mounted spoiler and the way the roof flows into the tailgate. It looks younger, racier and more purposeful in profile as well.



Porsche Macan Turbo interior



Getting back to the Cayenne, its interiors are quite impressive. The fit and finish is immaculate; the quality of materials, almost flawless; and the look and feel all round is properly plush. The Macan's interiors mirror those of the Cayenne. And, not just in design, but in execution as well making it one of the best interiors in the compact luxury SUV class. There are typical Porsche touches everywhere as well - the instrumentation is dominated by a large central tachometer, while the endless array of buttons on the extended central console, continue to feature on the Macan too. 



Porsche Macan Turbo front action shot



These might seem like overkill, but once you get a hang of it, you’d love the convenience. For me it took the better part of the day to finally be able to push the Sport button instead of the seat warmer without looking on the move. And with the outside temperature reading over 40 degree Celsius, you can imagine my plight every time pressing the wrong button set my bottom on fire. The big difference between the Cayenne and the Macan is the new steering wheel. The newer one has conventional paddle shifters mounted behind the steering and finally, controls for audio, the car computer and Satnav on the steering wheel itself.


There's also wonderful crispness to the switches in the way they operate and sound; there's palpable richness to the leather and metal accents all round the cabin; and it's almost impossible to fault the Macan's interior overall. Almost, because, the matte black plastic at places, especially on the central tunnel, just doesn't match up to the car's high price tag. And then there's the cigarette lighter cover which feels flimsy to operate and it even refused to close properly on a few occasions.



The cigarette lighter cover does not shut properly



The seats though - front and back - are lovely. The electrically adjustable ones at the front are cushy and supportive in equal measure. And because one can adjust it in numerous ways along with a steering that has both telescopic and height variation, the ideal driving position is easy to find. The rear seats impress too. The seat squab is large and it offers good under thigh support along with just the right firmness. The seat back angle isn't perfect, but one can still spend long hours in the rear seat without complaining. Rear passengers also get AC vents with temperature control, a couple of cup and bottle holders, and usable armrests; both the central armrest and the one on the door are thoughtfully located. The feeling of airiness isn't great when seated in the rear of the Macan, though. You do feel hemmed in, but, not claustrophobically so.



Porsche Macan Turbo taillight detail shot



The Porsche Macan isn't great on rear space either. It is longer than the Audi Q5 on which it is based but sits on the exact same wheelbase as the Audi. The rear kneeroom in the Macan isn't anything to write home about. There's usable space to put your feet under the front seats which adds to seating comfort though, and even though the Macan is lower than the Q5, the ingress isn’t an issue; you can have the older folks getting in or out of this Porsche without a problem.


Practicality aside (and we had to touch upon it because the Macan with its five doors and five seats is being billed as the 'practical' Porsche), the well-to-do 40 something’s will want to buy the Macan for traditional Porsche values expecting scintillating performance, great road holding and a joyous driving experience from the SUV. So, in that sense, we have the perfect variant here - the most powerful of the lot, the Macan Turbo. With 400PS and a kerb weight of 1925kg, the Macan has a power-to-weight ratio of 208PS per tonne. Not bad. And one can feel this on the road. The 3.6-litre V6 biturbo has a good amount of shove; it accelerates without hesitation, and nowhere in the rev range does it feel like the power is mellowing. The performance isn't going to leave you awestruck, but it will impress.  The engine is refined and it likes to be revved to its near 7,000rpm redline. Apart from a jump in thrust just after 4,000rpm, its power delivery is pretty linear too. 



Porsche Macan Turbo engine shot



All Macans, across the world, will only come with an automatic gearbox. The gearbox in question is a 7-speed dual clutch auto and it is wonderful. It goes about its business in the city and on a winding hill road with equal aplomb. The shifts are quick and seamless and the conventional paddle shifters behind the steering wheel are a welcome addition. The Macan feels best when driven in Sport mode. The throttle response is more immediate and it is easier to keep the engine in the 4,000-7,000rpm range where it feels the most alive. Wish it had a better sound track, though. For a car with intent, SUV or not, engine and exhaust notes that fade away, just don’t cut it.



Porsche Macan Turbo in action



Good thing is there's more to the Macan that just an average soundtrack. It is a Porsche at the end of the day and it must have handling characteristics that complement the engine. Sure enough, the Macan feels light footed, eager to turn in, and overall, an easy set of wheels to place more accurately on the road. The roads in Jabal Jais or mountain Jais close to Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE are empty, well surfaced and beautifully winding with clear sight lines for most corners. And on this section, with its lesser weight and lower height compared to the Audi Q5, the Macan felt tight.


One doesn't sit too high in the Macan, the steering is crisp, quick and precise, and though not tremendously talkative, it doesn't take anything away from the driving experience. Now, an SUV, no matter how sporty, with near 2-tonne kerb weight, on a road like this, which involves heavy braking and some serious steering inputs at times, must feel heavy, a tad cumbersome and slightly unnerving; physics dictates it. Not the Macan. It defies it. So much so that you tend to forget that it is an SUV at the end of the day. 



Porsche Macan Turbo boot space



Yes, there's a bit of roll at turn in, and yes, there's a hint of understeer as well. But, it's more car-like in feel and never does it feel ungainly. Moreover, with its tech bits like torque vectoring and all wheel drive helping its dynamic abilities, the understeer quickly disappears. The Macan tightens its line telepathically, and even at corner exits with the throttle pinned and its nose raised, it refused to run wide. It just grips and shoots out of bends. But, there's a limit to it, of course. At least there was a limit on our Macan thanks to the Mud and Snow tyres it was running. These were running out of grip sooner than the SUV itself. 



Porsche Macan Turbo side action shot



As far as the braking goes, the Macan felt light but strong under brakes just twitching a bit under hard braking at times. The brakes offer strong bite, but the pedal feel was softer than we would have liked. The ride quality on the other hand, given the Macan Turbo's body control, is impressive. It is firm but compliant, and over most surfaces. It does jiggle about, but it rarely thumps you. And it isn't noisy either. The Porsche Macan then is an accomplished vehicle. But, does it live up to Porsche’s billing of it being the first 'sports car compact luxury SUV'?


It can play the SUV role with the off-road package that helps increase the Macan's ride height by 40mm and gives it hill descent control. It is luxurious too; it is quiet, well finished, rich in touch and feel, and it has all the pampering toys too. But, is it compact? If one calls the Audi Q5 compact, the Macan is too. Though it is longer and wider than the Audi, the difference isn't much. And it is lighter. Now the big question - is it a sports car? No. 



Porsche Macan Turbo rear static shot



Is it then a sports car in its segment? Well, its handling, sure-footedness and poise around corners isn't something its competition can match; and it has 400PS and a 0-100kmph time of 4.6s on its side. So, in a sense, yes, the Macan Turbo is the sportiest in its group even though calling it a sports car, might be stretching it a bit. Is it then worth the premium? Well, that's something we can only answer once we have the Macan in India, in Indian specs with the price, features, et al on the table. But, we will tell you this – you don’t want to discount the Macan... not without having driven it.