By David Colman
Hypes: Breakthrough SUV/Sports Car
Gripes: Needs Passenger Controlled Rear Seat Ventilation
How do you define sports car? If your description includes “low slung two seat conveyance,” you’re hopelessly out of touch with the times. Porsche has just redefined the concept of sports car to include elevated ride height and seating for five. They call their new segment buster the Macan. In Turbo trim, this stubby and potent compact SUV will run the wheels off any “sports car” you care to choose — including such stalwarts from Porsche as the Cayman and 911. The Macan Turbo, thanks to 400hp and 406 pound-feet of torque, will cover the 0-60MPH run in 4.4 seconds and top out at 164mph. Is that sporty enough for you?
Macan shares some similarities with VW family tree relative, Audi’s Q5. But unlike Porsche’s full size SUV Cayenne, which is closely related to VW’s Touareg, the Macan neither resembles nor performs like the Q5. In fact, the Macan Turbo occupies an SUV niche of its own, capable of providing top echelon sports car performance on paved roads or Baja busting transit over special outback stages. The trick to unleashing Macan’s double edged potential lies in checking the right boxes when you configure your order. You will want to specify the following essential options: Sport Chrono Package ($1,290), Air Suspension including Porsche Active Suspension Management ($1,385), and 21″ 911 Turbo Design Wheels ($3,300). Our test Macan (Base price: $72,300), finished in Agate Grey Metallic ($690), also included a scrumptious Natural Leather Interior in Espresso, Brushed Aluminum door, dash and shifter trim (NC), and a sensational Burmester High-End Surround Sound music system ($4,290).
The Sport Chrono option, signified by the presence of a stop watch mounted atop the dash, works in consort with the standard PDK 7-speed double clutch automatic gearbox to unleash brutal standing start acceleration with launch control. Chrono equipped Macans run to 60mph from a dead stop 2 tenths of a second quicker than non-Chrono Macans. Chrono also enhances your driving menu with selections ranging from “Comfort,” to “Sport” and “Sport+.” Comfort is freeway plush, Sport tightens up responsiveness of steering and shocks considerably, while Sport+ nails the platform to the road with vise-like precision. The air suspension option provides four ride height settings (Normal, Low, Loading and Off-Road), choices unavailable on Macans with standard steel suspension. The Low setting drops your Macan 15mm below the ride height of a standard suspension Macan. When that reduced ride height is coupled to the adhesive Michelin Latitude Sport 3 tires (265/40R21 front, 295/35R21 rear) that shoe the 21 inch 911 Turbo alloys, the Macan Turbo transforms itself into a potent canyon carver that will stick with any model Porsche “sports car.” As an added incentive, the dazzling 21s make the Turbo look just like a Hot Wheels dream toy.
Yet inside this potent bomb, all is serene and elegant. The Espresso leather, immaculately stitched and complemented by understated brushed aluminum trim, imparts an elegance level befitting a $90,000 vehicle. The Burmester system will rip your ear drums to shreds or murmur sweet nothings with the twist of a dial. The steering wheel in the Macan, the first to be borrowed from the design used in Porsche’s million dollar 918, features knurled thumb knobs to control stereo volume (left thumb), or access informative diagnostics (right thumb). Porsche’s excellent 18-way adjustable Sport Seat, a carryover from the Boxster, Cayman and 911, is standard issue on the Macan Turbo. It is impossible to fault for comfort or adjustability, with 3 memory positions available for each front seat occupant. The Macan’s ample window height insures excellent side vision. Rear seat passengers will enjoy the exaggerated greenhouse effect, though they are not given ventilation outlets of their own to control. With rear seats erect, you are left with a useful flat trunk space of 17.7 cubic feet, which expands to 53 cubic feet when you drop the 60/40 split rear seats flat. Don’t forget that lowering the air suspension to the “Load” setting will facilitate any Sherpa detail you might have in mind for your Macan. You’ll be hard pressed to find that kind of luxuriant and accessible storage in any other sports car.
When I first read Porsche’s brochure claim that the new Macan is “The first true sports car among compact SUVs,” I was highly dubious about the merit of this accolade. After spending a fairly euphoric week behind the Macan’s 918-style wheel, I would have to agree with the conclusion that this brutal looking Leatherman tool defines a new category of its own. Porsche has devised a 4-door 5 seat sports car that may look like an SUV but drives like something else entirely.
2015 Porsche Macan Turbo
- Engine: 3.6 liter V-6 Twin Turbo
- Horsepower: 400hp @ 6,000rpm
- Torque: 406 lb.-ft. @ 1,350-4,000rpm
- Fuel Consumption: 17.1 MPG (Observed)
- Price as Tested: $87,940
- Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars