2015 Porsche Macan

Rating

70/100

Background

Given the great success Porsche has had with its midsize Cayenne crossover SUV, it was just a matter of time before the company expanded the family with a compact crossover offering. But just because it’s smaller and less expensive doesn’t mean the 2015 Porsche Macan is any less worthy of that iconic crest-shaped hood emblem. Make no mistake, the new Macan comes packed with the speed, handling and engaging driving character one would rightfully expect from the manufacturer of the 911 and Cayenne.
Although it shares some components with the 2015 Audi Q5, the 2015 Porsche Macan (pronounced “Ma-cahn”) has its own engines, suspension design and, of course, styling. Furthermore, Porsche has engineered it to drive more like a rear-wheel-drive performance auto than most premium-brand crossovers. The Macan’s standard all-wheel-drive system normally directs most of the engine’s power to the rear wheels, and that power is only redirected to the front wheels when needed to maintain traction.
That power is generated by one of two available V6 engines. For the Macan S, there’s a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 340 horsepower. On the Macan Turbo, a turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 uncorks 400 hp, which is far and away the most power you’ll find in a small luxury crossover SUV. Either way, you get a quick-shifting automated manual transmission as standard (Porsche’s PDK), just like on the automaker’s sports cars. Porsche has also readied the Macan with a sport-tuned suspension and optional features not often found in this class, such as grippy summer-rated performance tires, an adaptive suspension and a torque-vectoring rear differential — all of which benefit its handling abilities around turns. There’s also an optional air suspension that can be used to raise the Macan’s drive height to 9.1 inches, thereby bolstering this crossover’s capability on dirt trails.
Hardware like this doesn’t come cheap, of course, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that the Macan costs more than other compact luxury crossover SUVs. And that’s just the base price — it’s easy to boost the bottom line another 30 percent just on optional equipment. The Porsche’s closest competitor is the 2015 Audi SQ5, which has a 354-hp supercharged V6 and a similar starting price to the Macan S. Meanwhile, the less costly 2015 BMW X3 is still pretty sporty and arguably a better value, plus it offers more cargo space with the rear seats in use. The 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is another alternative, though its tighter rear quarters and smaller cargo capacity are notable drawbacks.
These are all fine choices. But if you desire the utmost performance from your small crossover luxury SUV, the 2015 Porsche Macan is your best bet in this crowd.

Drive

The turbo 3.0-liter V6 in the base 2015 Porsche Macan S pulls with plenty of gusto, and the lightning-quick shifts from the PDK transmission don’t hurt a bit. Adding to the grin factor is the aggressive but not overbearing exhaust note. Predictably, the 400-hp Turbo model feels faster and livelier, but we find it hard to justify the price when the base Macan S is already so rewarding and quick.
The Macan’s steering doesn’t communicate about what the front tires are doing nearly as well as what you get from a 911 or Cayman, but this crossover is still a blast to drive around turns. Grip is plentiful, and the Macan changes direction with confidence and poise. The all-wheel drive also lets you put down the power easily. If you want the full effect and don’t require all-season tires, we would highly recommend the summer tires for their added grip.
Thankfully, this extraordinary handling capability doesn’t translate to a stiff-legged drive over bumps and ruts. Indeed, the Macan is quite cozy and quiet over just about any road surface, something that cannot be said of all similarly athletic SUVs at any price. We even prefer the base suspension setup over the optional air suspension. It’s that good.

Exterior

The 2015 Porsche Macan is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in base S and higher-performance Turbo trim levels.
Standard equipment on the S includes 19-inch wheels, a power liftgate, power/heated sideview mirrors, auto engine stop-start, active bi-xenon headlights, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, full power accessories, leather/simulated suede upholstery, eight-way power front seats with memory settings, 40/20/40-split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen and an 11-speaker sound system with CD player and an iPod/USB sound interface.
The Macan Turbo adds a more powerful engine, adaptive suspension dampers, unique 19-inch wheels, unique front/rear fascias, LED foglights, full leather upholstery, Alcantara headliner, aluminum accents, 18-way power front sport seats with memory settings, heated front seats, a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound sound system (also adds satellite radio and HD radio) and a navigation system.
Some of the features of the Turbo are available on the S as options. Other options (some of which are grouped into packages and are dependent on trim level) include 20- or 21-inch wheels, summer performance tires, variable torque vectoring (Porsche Torque Vectoring) for the rear wheels, an adaptive air suspension, body side skirts, skid plates, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors (with or without a rearview camera), auto-dimming mirrors, adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, and keyless ignition and entry. Inside, Porsche offers triple-zone climate control, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, full leather upholstery, 14-way or 18-way power front seats, ventilated front seats, smartphone app integration (Aha Radio), a 16-speaker Burmester sound system, voice-command functionality and adaptive cruise control. There’s also a Sport Chrono package (featuring a dash-top stopwatch, a launch-control feature and selectable sport calibrations for the engine, suspension and transmission) and an “electronic logbook” that automatically records various driving data for subsequent analysis on your computer. Finally, Porsche offers a dizzying array of available color-matched and leather-swathed interior trim pieces.

Interior

The Macan’s cabin reflects modern Porsche design themes with triple dials for the instruments, a flat dash top and a center console that looks as if it belongs in a Learjet. Although there are many controls in here, it doesn’t take long to acclimate to them thanks to a logical system-grouped layout. This is also an exceptionally well-crafted cabin, and the interior materials have an upscale look and feel.
The cockpit-style layout provides a seating position well suited to spirited driving, and the steering wheel takes inspiration from the company’s exotic 918 Spyder sports car. And, as we’ve come to expect from Porsche, even the base seats are exceptionally well contoured and afford long-haul comfort as well as reassuring side-to-side support for more spirited roads. There’s a price to pay, however, for this overtly sporty ambience, as the Macan gives away some cargo and rear passenger space to its rivals. With the rear seats in use, the Macan’s cargo capacity is 17.7 cubic feet, about 10 cubes shy of the SQ5 and X3. Fold them down and you’ll have 53.0 cubes, a little less than those two competitors but still better than what you’ll get in an Evoque.

Safety

The 2015 Macan comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a knee airbag for each front passenger. Optional safety features include front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, frontal collision warning and mitigation system (with automatic braking), blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning and keeping assist.
In simulated panic stops from 60 mph, SUVS recorded distances of 121 and 120 feet for the Macan S and Macan Turbo, respectively. Both of these test vehicles were equipped with all-season tires (not high-performance summer tires), which contributed to the average distances for compact crossovers.

Specs

The Macan S is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 340 hp and 339 pound-feet of torque. A 7-speed automated manual transmission (PDK) sends the power to all four wheels. At our test track, a Macan S sprinted to 60 miles per hour in just 5.6 seconds. This is faster than most other compact luxury crossover SUVs. Automatic engine stop-start is standard.
The Macan Turbo is ably propelled by a bigger turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engine with 400 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The Turbo also has the 7-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. Again with our instrumented testing, we recorded a launch-controlled 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds, which makes the Macan Turbo the undisputed quickest compact crossover you can buy.
The Macan’s EPA estimates rate the two engines’ fuel economy identically at 19 miles per gallon combined (17 city/23 highway). Driven over SUVS’ 120-mile evaluation route, the base S returned 20 miles per gallon and the Turbo managed a respectable 22 mpg. Our seat-of-the-pants reasoning for the higher-output Macan eking out slightly better mileage is that the engine didn’t have to work as hard to maintain the same pace.
Hauling your Cayman to track days with your Macan seems feasible, too. Properly equipped, the Macan is rated to haul up to 5,291 pounds.

Value

Spirited performance even in base trim; athletic and engaging to drive; cozy and quiet ride; highly customizable.

Verdict

Just like the Cayenne before it, the 2015 Porsche Macan should be a hit with luxury crossover shoppers, as it offers similar performance in a smaller, sportier package.

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