Porsche Macan: can one size fit all?

Date:25 September 2014 Tags:,

The story about the owner who sold three different cars – SUV, sedan and roadster – and replaced them all with the Macan may be apocryphal. But after 500 helter-skelter kilometres in Zuffenhausen’s latest, it might just be true. This new compact SUV certainly is a formidably versatile beast.

At its heart beats sports-car genes that have inspired generations of high-performance cars which have thrilled drivers the world over. Speaking of heart, let’s get out of the way the fact that the Porsche and its VW group fellow traveller the Audi Q5 share a platform. And let’s just say that you are quite likely to notice the difference at the wheel. You certainly will notice at the checkout, given a price range that starts at around R900 000 for the S diesel.

Not that the pricing seems to be turning off potential buyers. South Africa’s order banks are looking very healthy, according to Porsche SA boss Toby Venter. It’s believed that around half the pre-orders have come from non-Porsche owners.

We drove the two S versions, namely the entry level diesel and the slightly pricier petrol. Our first mount was a diesel that immediately struck us with its uncanny smoothness and effortless lugging ability. If this were the only Macan you drove, you’d look no further than its combination of refinement and pace. Cross-country travel in crossover has seldom been this relaxing – or swift, for that matter.

It was only when we swapped to the petrol equivalent that things suddenly jumped into perspective. Altogether more urgent, the petrol sings lustily where the diesel hums serenely. The petrol version we drove had bigger wheels and tyres overall (Macans use different sizes front and rear, incidentally), which I suspect was at least partly responsible for a noticeably sportier-feeling and noisier ride. Thanks to the rocksolid – in stability, not ride – chassis and massive rubber the car’s rear-biased road manner only occasionally become evident, and then generally in its eager turn-in and crisp response to the driver’s steering-wheel input.

The admittedly eye-watering asking price does buy the new owner a formidable array of equipment as standard. This includes Porsche’s sophisticated traction management, PDK double-clutch gearshift and all-wheel drive. But, as you’d expect, there is also a long list of options, in which air suspension features prominently. Other options include Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus system (PTV Plus) and the adaptive Dynamic Light System Plus (PDLS Plus).

Engine: V6 biturbo, 3,0 and 3,6 (Turbo model)
Outputs: 180 kW (diesel), 250 kW (S), 294 kW (Turbo)
Drive: awd
Transmission: 7-speed double-clutch
0-100 km/h: 5,4 s (S)
Top speed: 254 km/h (S)
Seats: 5
Boot:  500 – 1 500 litres
Price: from R912 000, including a 5-year/ 90 000 km maintenance plan