When Porsche revealed it was getting into the utility vehicle market, the pundits laughed and the purists howled in protest. The Cayenne took off, baffling the pundits and silencing the purists. Along came the Macan, and the scales tipped even further in the new direction.
For the first six months of 2019, Porsche sold 863 sports cars in Canada. Over the same period of time, it sold more than 3,000 utility vehicles (1,516 Cayennes and 1,575 Macans).
Porsche recently launched the all-electric Taycan, admitting it has been the most extensive and expensive project in the company’s storied history. That would not have been possible without profits from the crossover vehicles. It has launched a new generation of 911s and revisions to other models. Porsche has once again won numerous world racing championships with its own entries and by supporting customers and private teams. All of this made possible by selling highly profitable utility vehicles.
The biggest single source of customers for the Cayenne and Macan are Porsche owners. Purists and pundits zero, Porsche 1.
The best-selling Porsche in Canada, the Macan has received a mild makeover for 2019. The refresh includes new LED head and taillights, new bumpers and wheels, updates to the interior styling, additional standard features, a standard navigation system, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.
The Macan is built in Leipzig, Germany, on the Volkswagen group’s MLB platform. It’s closest cousin is the Audi Q5. The Macan comes in four guises, base, S, GTS and turbo. The base gets a four-cylinder engine, the others a V6, either normally-aspirated or turbocharged. All-wheel-drive and an automatic transmission are common throughout the Macan lineup.
I tested a “base” Macan, the four-cylinder version. This is a turbocharged version of the third generation 2.0-litre EA888 engine used in a variety of Audis and VWs. It produces a healthy 248-horsepower in this application. The notion of a four-cylinder Porsche utility may not impress – until you drive one. Thanks to the turbocharger, this engine provides a good amount of low-end grunt. The dual-shaft, seven-speed automatic transmission has been programmed to make maximum advantage of the engine’s torque and horsepower curves.
While it may give up some power and performance to its V6 siblings, the slowest Porsche is quick. It can accelerate from rest to 100 km/h in six seconds. In addition to being the smallest engine in the Macan lineup, it is the lightest. That contributes to the Macan’s amazing alacrity. It drives like a 911 on stilts with the similar feedback through the steering wheel and powerful braking. The suspension keeps it level in the corners and absorbs rough surfaces with ease. This combination of a comfortable ride and impressive handling is a Porsche trademark.
So is the option sheet.
Although a “base” model at $56,000, the tester went out the door at $75,000. The 50 per cent hike included a number of niceties but also charges for things like a heated steering wheel that is standard equipment on an $18,000 Hyundai. Porsche’s option list is legendary. For example, there are 14 different wheel options and $8,160 carbon-ceramic brakes. It takes a watchful eye and considerable restraints to maintain control.
The Macan feels like it is carved from a block of granite. That impression is furthered by it consistently being ranked among the highest quality vehicles in the segment, in both initial and long-term quality and reliability.
The two-row Macan seats five-people, two of them comfortably. The front seats are supportive in line with the vehicle’s dynamic properties. The rear seat is cramped by class standards, and the cargo area smaller than most of the competition.
The dash and controls are laid out in typical Porsche fashion with the key to the left and the tachometers dominating the instrument cluster. The standard infotainment system includes a 28-cm touch screen, navigation, voice control, satellite radio, Wi-Fi hot spot, 10 speakers, wireless connectivity and a quartet of USB ports.
The touch screen is straight forward, ranking in my experience as among the best in the industry with excellent graphics and a quick response to inputs. Apple CarPlay is available, but Android Auto is not. Other standard equipment includes: eight-way power-adjustable front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, power liftgate, power-folding mirrors, rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, alloy wheels and automatic headlights.
The Porsche Macan is more expensive than the competition. But the sales charts show folks of means are willing to pay a premium to drive a Porsche. Thankfully the brand’s best-selling vehicle rewards with Porsche-level driving dynamics.
Model: 2019 Porsche Macan
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, 248 horsepower, 273 lb.-ft. of torque, premium fuel
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 11.6 / 9.3
Length: 4,696 mm
Width: 1,923 mm
Wheelbase: 2,807 mm
Weight: 1,859 kg
Price: $56,100 base, $74,500 as tested, plus freight
Competition: Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5, BMW X3/4, Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Volvo XC60
Options on test vehicle: Dolomite silver metallic paint, $790; Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), $1,560; heated steering wheel, $370; 20-inch black alloy wheels, $4,790; brushed aluminum interior package, $630; door sill guards, $350; surround view camera, $1,360; sport chrono package, $1,560; premium plus package (Porsche entry & drive, Apple CarPlay, auto-dimming mirrors, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, panoramic sunroof, Bose audio system, power front seats with memory function, Dynamic LED headlights), $6,990