This test drive marks a first for yours truly.
During my time writing about cars I’ve been fortunate to drive a lot of new vehicles, both on events and through press vehicle bookings. In fact, at this stage in my career, I’ve experienced offerings from almost every manufacturer through both means.
Porsche, however, is one marque that I’d never had the good fortune of experiencing extended seat time with through a press fleet loan.
Now, I have been invited to a few Porsche media events over the years, and have even been lucky enough to drive some of their fine cars on track, but until last week, I’d never driven a press vehicle.
That all changed with my experience behind the wheel of a 2017 Macan Turbo with Performance Package, the range-topping model for Porsche’s compact performance crossover.
Before I dive into the nuts and bolts of the car I drove, a little background on the Macan line.
The Macan – Indonesian word for tiger – joined the Porsche lineup in 2014, and is now the company’s bestselling vehicle in North America.
In Canada, sales of the Macan grew by 32 percent to 2,800 units in 2016, and they've turned white hot in 2017. Through the end of April, 1,206 Macans have been sold in Canada which represents an incredible 75 percent increase over the same period in 2016.
Designed to be a sportier SUV option as opposed to the larger, mid-size Cayenne, the Macan is built on the Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLP) that underpins the Audi Q5, but it rides on a slightly shorter wheelbase (13 mm), yet is slightly longer (28 mm). It is also wider (39.94 mm), shorter (59 mm) and heavier (130 kg) than its Audi cousin.
Although the Macan and Q5 share a platform, the two vehicles are quite separate otherwise. They share no sheet metal, are built in different plants and have unique performance profiles and brand identities. That last one is the most important, I think, because performance is at the core of Porsche’s identity. It’s a characteristic that unites the company’s entire lineup.
This is another way of saying that the Macan is like other Porsches insofar as it’s designed to deliver great performance while also sharing a strong family resemblance.
So, while the Macan has an SUV body style, its front fascia, headlamps, tail lamps and even its flared wheel arches and the shape of its windows are unmistakably Porsche. From any angle, it is immediately recognizable as such, which presumably is the point of the design choices.
The same is true on the inside, where the Macan looks and feels like other Porsches. The rather spartan design ethic – no 12-inch HD touchscreen display and virtual cockpit here – which encompasses clean lines, tasteful shapes and textures, with nods to the brand (dashtop analogue clock, acres of console buttons) mixed in, is authentic Porsche regardless of how one may feel about it.
In my view, I’d say the interior is comfortable, finely crafted, well-appointed and highly functional. Porsche realizes it’s mostly about the driving experience, so while the interior may not dazzle, it doesn’t distract either.
In this regard, putting hard keys on the console makes perfect sense, as does limiting the amount of functionality available via the PCM (Porsche Communication Management) touchscreen interface. The system does have Apple CarPlay compatibility, however.
Could the screen be bigger and prettier? Sure, but as I said, a big touchscreen with liquid-smooth animations and pin-sharp map renderings are not the reasons for spending $100K on a Porsche.
It’s what’s under the skin that really matters, and that’s where the Macan Turbo with Performance Package really delivers.
For the Canadian market, the Macan is available with three engines (2.0L turbo 4-cylinder, 3.0L turbo V6, 3.6L turbo V6), all of which are mated to Porsche’s 7-speed PDK double-clutch automatic transmission.
The engines are spread across five trims, the Macan (2.0L – $54,100), Macan S (3.0L –$61,400), Macan GTS (3.0L – $76,000), Macan Turbo (3.6L – $87,200) and Macan Turbo with Performance Package (3.6L – $97,600).
The headline with the Performance Package, as the name would suggest, is greater performance, and that starts with the 3.6 twin-turbo V6, which produces 40 more horsepower and 36 lb-ft. more torque than the Macan Turbo.
With 440 horsepower and 442 lb-ft. of torque on tap, a Macan Turbo with Performance Package can go from 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, which is 0.4 seconds faster than a Macan Turbo. It also has a higher top track speed – 272 km/h versus 266 km/h.
The enhancements don’t end there, however. The package also includes front brakes with red six-piston calipers that grab discs that are 30 mm larger (390 mm) than those on the Macan Turbo.
Other standard kit with the Performance Package is a lower ride height (by 15 mm), sports exhaust system, controlled sports chassis (via Porsche Active Suspension Management) and Sport Chrono Package.
This model also comes with lots of other standard equipment, including 19-inch wheels, three-zone automatic climate controls, navigation, air suspension and Bose surround sound audio system and much more. In addition, my test vehicle also has more than $11,000 worth of extras, including LED headlights, heated rear seats and panoramic roof (full list below).
On the road, the Macan Turbo with Performance Package is a delight to drive at any speed. Even in normal drive, the car offers precise handling, lively acceleration and a rich, albeit somewhat muted, exhaust note.
Dipping further into the Sport Chrono settings, the car’s character changes considerably, however. In Sport, and especially Sport Plus, my tester really comes alive with more aggressive throttle mapping, razor-sharp PDK shifts and a visceral exhaust rumble.
Perfectly placed steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, precise steering reflexes and a suspension that’s on the firm side, yet can be customized to suit the grind of a daily commute, makes this car a fine combination of fun and practicality.
It’s easy fast, sure, thanks in large measure to an abundance of low-end torque, but at no time does it feel like there’s too much power. It can be driven comfortably – easily – in any driving situation.
The only downside of this marvelousness, however, is the fact that my tester rode on 19-inch wheels shod in winter tires. But with optional 911-inspired 21s on some sticky summer rubber – oh man!
A simple wheel and tire swap, combined with the performance potential of Sport Plus, had my mind drifting to the track, a common feeling I have whenever I drive a Porsche. The track is the true home for these vehicles, and the Macan Turbo with Performance Package is no exception.
And with even more performance available across the range, the sales momentum it is presently enjoying should continue for some time to come.
SPECIFICATIONS – 2017 Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package
BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $97,600 / $110,300 (incl. $1,200 destination)
FINAL ASSEMBLY: Leipzig, Germany
ENGINE: 3.6L twin-turbo V6
HORSEPOWER: 440 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE: 442 lb-ft. @ 1,500 – 4,500 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 1,925 kg
CONFIGURATION: front engine, all-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed PDK double-clutch automatic
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (L/100 KM - CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 14.1 / 12.3 / 10.1
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000
ALTERNATIVES: Audi SQ5, BMW X4 M40i, Jaguar F-Pace S, Mercedes-Benz GLC 43
Premium Package Plus ($4,100)
- Lane keeping assist w/ lane change assist
- Automatically dimming exterior and interior mirrors
- Seat ventilation (front)
- Panoramic roof system
- Porsche entry and drive
Accessories and / or Stand Alone Options
Leather package in black / garnet red (leather seats) ($240)
Rear heated seats ($600)
LED main headlights including Porsche dynamic light system ($1,340)
21-inch sport classic wheels ($2,920)
Connect plus ($1,510)
Volcano grey metallic paint ($790)
Total – $11,500
Photography by Lee Bailie