FIRST DRIVE | 2019 Porsche Macan gets a leaner look and improved cabin
Porsche’s best-selling vehicle expertly juggles the family-car and sports role
Remember the initially criticised Cayenne, which turned out wasn’t a daft idea for Porsche to grow from its sports-car roots?
That model began a trajectory of attracting new customers to the brand and record profits. So far the smaller Macan has rewritten the sales records and it’s the brand’s current best-seller, with more than 73,000 units delivered globally in 2018, and the Cayenne selling 49,000 in the same year.
The newly updated Porsche Macan, which has just gone on sale in SA, doesn’t have a full battery electric version yet but the model that will replace it in a few years’ time will include a battery-powered one alongside conventional petrol engines.
The 2019 Macan is available in two petrol models: an entry-level version powered by a 2.0l turbo four-cylinder engine with 185kW and 370Nm and the Macan S that’s powered by a 3.0l turbocharged six cylinder with outputs of 260kW and 480Nm.
Both models feature a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and drive is to all wheels. A restyle makes it look leaner and you can now see more of the iconic 911 in its shape than before. The facelift also brings in the new LED tail-light panel found in both the latest Cayenne and 911.
Improvements include a new 28cm touchscreen Porsche Communication Management (PCM), new levels of connectivity and, for the first time, the optional availability of the GT sports steering wheel from the 911. Added digital functions include a voice-control system, remote emergency services and online navigation with Traffic Jam Assist. A Porsche Connect app also enables communication with the car via smartphone.
The Macan is a family vehicle with sports-driving credentials. Space wise, its 2,807mm wheelbase yields enough room that isn’t exactly cramped but certainly not the most generous in the segment. The rear seats can fold down to create space to fit larger objects while rear boot space with the seats propped up remains good enough to accommodate the regular stuff we throw back there.
Its cabin ambiance has no letdowns in both quality and ergonomics, nor does it have many telltale sporting elements save for the golden shield nestled in the centre of the steering wheel.
The in-drive combination of adaptive cruise control (ACC) and PDK transmission with coasting mode and Auto Start Stop function also introduces an appealing angle of economy and affordability last enjoyed with Porsche’s discontinued diesels.
The e-hybrids are unbelievably efficient but still way too expensive for mainstream pockets. Our launch unit returned about 8.7l/100km on a mixed cycle of driving styles with every fun button dialled out. The Macan is able to cruise delicately on the roads; the cushiness of its ride quality never getting bone-rattling even in its two Sport damper settings.
You also don’t have to be driving something genuinely rapid to keep up with the 2.0l Macan. With a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 220km/h, it isn’t the fastest of Porsches. However, when in the opportune times whereyou can open it up on a twisty road it quickly transforms into probably the most untouchable four-cylinder compact SUV out there.
The new engine and gearbox are closely related to those found in the Volkswagen Golf GTI, but they deploy their horses differently. The Porsche engine is way stronger in the middle of its 6750rpm rev range and the transmission shifts are sharper. This allows the Macan’s heftier size to gallop effortlessly.
Ten-millimetre larger diameterBrakes that are 10mm larger in diameter, the offer the stopping power and according to Porsche they are apparently optimised using new materials and also feature a shortened lever arm connector to the brake master cylinder, the result being improved immediacy and more precise pressure points. This particular enhancement was felt where it was needed the most, going down one of the Cape’s notoriously twisty mountain pass roads.
These new technical changes brought about via uponthroughtweaks to the front axle, engine mounts and a rear-bias torque distribution AWD system make this the SUV with the sportiest turn-in, steering sharpness and deepest driver connection.
The chassis and suspension also felt happy to allow further exploitation of the vehicle on loose surfaces and wet surfaces. It’s a pretty sorted midsized SUV, and competitively priced and specified too.