Subtle tweaks make the 2019 Porsche Macan even more sensational
This newly released Porsche SUV may not have undergone a complete makeover, but then again, it didn't need one in the first place
Is this really a new Macan? Really? Looks pretty much the same as the old one if you ask me - even if I squint.
Face-lifted, yes. New, no. First launched in 2014 (gosh, how time flies), the Macan has been a phenomenal success story for the Porsche brand with over 400,000 of them sold around the world since order books first opened.
The Macan's popularity comes from its almost annoying ability to excel in all arenas. It can fetch, carry, carve a snaking back road with purpose and venture down a dirt track further than most owners will ever dare to take it. As a sporting SUV it ticks all boxes and then some.
Porsche is not a company that rests on its laurels, however, so for the 2019 model year the Macan has been treated to some subtle, mostly cosmetic updates.
Give it a quick walk around in the parking lot and you'll notice a pair of fancy new LED headlights, a reprofiled bonnet as well as Porsche's now de rigueur light bar that runs between the rear tail lamps. Wing mirrors have been tweaked and the side blades (those protective plastic strips that run across the doors) are now available in five variations.
Oh, there are also four new colours - Miami Blue (think classic French racing blue) and Crayon (a light grey) being our favourites. The 18-inch wheels come standard while 19, 20 and 21s are optional.
Nothing new and juicy on the mechanical front then?
Well, the biggest news about the face-lifted Macan is the addition of a new engine in the entry-level model. Pop the bonnet and your eyes will be met by a 2.0-litre turbocharged motor suspiciously similar to the one doing duty inside the venerable Golf GTI (Porsche won't admit this, of course, but the cynic in me says that this is simply a modified version of the ubiquitous EA888 used in countless VAG products). Despite a lack of lowdown torque - you definitely need to visit the upper echelons of the rev range to extract the best from this engine - it pushes out just enough muscle to keep you happy.
Look, you won't be setting the asphalt alight, but if you wanted to you'd spend extra on the Macan S with its considerably more powerful 260kW V6 motor. As an everyday prospect the four-cylinder Macan equipped with the firm's brilliant seven-speed PDK gearbox is all you'll need. It provides reasonable economy too: driving it spiritedly across country and through town I was sitting at a whisker under the 10l/100km mark.
A lot has happened since 2014, so is the Macan still at the top of its class as far as dynamics are concerned?
Right off the bat the Macan impressed me with its sports car-like handling. In fact, I seem to recall describing it all those years ago as a "Boxster on stilts" - or at least something along those lines. Anyway, today the Macan remains a fun and involving SUV to chuck around the black stuff. On the local media launch we got to fire up and down some of the best mountain passes in the Western Cape and it performed admirably.
Body control - basically the way the car moves about its axis through corners - is exemplary and encourages one to really open the taps when road conditions allow. The steering is well weighted and responsive in the age-old Porsche tradition, while the all-wheel drive system has a definite feeling of rearward bias to the way it distributes torque through tighter bends.
Indeed, the Macan is still very much a class act, which is why Porsche hasn't fiddled much with the chassis other than reduce some unsprung mass from the front axle and tweak the anti-roll bars.
While it'll make the newer Jaguar F-Pace look silly, its biggest threat comes from the Alfa Romeo Stelvio - a car that's probably as focused when piloted in anger. But with flaky service and rampant depreciation, who wants to swap a Porsche crest for a Milanese serpent?
What's life like on the inside?
Seriously good. In actual fact I'd argue that the Macan packs the best cabin in its class. Whether seated in the front or rear, this Porsche feels decidedly premium with a fit and finish that makes both the F-Pace and Stelvio look lower rent - especially in the case of the Alfa, which uses a smorgasbord of different plastics and finishes to form its interior.
Ergonomics are first class while the seats are comfortable and supportive - something you'll appreciate when it comes to exploiting the Macan's healthy appetite for corners.
To keep them techno-nerds happy, Porsche has updated the dashboard with its lovely 10.9-inch PCM touchscreen infotainment interface. Already seen in the Panamera, it's a joy to not only use but look at too. Best of all, it comes fitted as standard fare.
Unlike in the Panamera there's no glass centre console fitted with haptic buttons - you still get old-school analogue switchgear for adjusting the rest of the car's interior ancillaries. Other standard features include satellite navigation, parking assist, cruise control, Porsche sound package plus, Apple CarPlay as well as a sport button that makes the mapping of the gearbox and engine more aggressive.
Interesting. So by all accounts it seems like the 2019 Macan is a classic case of "the king is dead, long live the king"?
Yeah, something like that. A subtle evolution of the breed, the refreshed Porsche Macan remains a premium sports SUV that can be all things to all men (and women, of course). Whether lugging about kids on the school run or taking off on an impromptu cross-country adventure, it's a machine game for almost anything you can throw its way.
At little over R10,000 more expensive than the equivalent Stelvio and some R70,000 cheaper than the equivalent F-Pace, it's aggressively priced too, especially considering the brand cachet riding in its bonnet crest.
Factor in excellent aftermarket service (Porsche's all-under-one-roof service approach can't be beaten) plus sound resale value, and the Macan makes a whole lot of buying sense. And don't bother with the S - the 2.0-litre will meet all your expectations...