August 01, 2014 By Carl S. Cunanan

2014 Porsche Macan

Words by Carl. S. Cunanan    Photos by Porsche Press and author

There was a time, many years ago, when we had a rather loud discussion in the C! Group office. It was because I insisted on using the term “truck” in my commenting about the very first model Cayenne. “So, are you telling me it is like the 911?” I asked. “Well, not exactly,” they responded.

A few years later, Porsche called me and said, hey we would like you to try out the new Cayenne GTS. I responded saying, you know I am kind of the light, tight racecar guy of the group and not the big, heavy SUV guy? They said yes, that is why we want you to come and try this one. We think you will like it, they said. True enough, the Cayenne GTS was and is THE Cayenne for those that have always coveted handling and agility, and many do consider it the best of the Cayenne breed. The fact that the Cayenne family has sold so much that it now powers the development of insane handling cars like the 918 and the Cayman proves that besides my initially biased opinion that I have to admit changed, the world loves the thing.

So when the call came to check out the new Porsche Macan on some twisty mountain roads, I was in a way both predisposed to liking it and forced to be wary of it. On the one hand, all of the big SUVs have brought along smaller siblings that are much more to my personal liking than their original bigger brothers. Even the excellent Audi Q7, which I quickly decided was my vehicle of choice for long European drives when I needed to haul people and stuff as well as just haul, got so much more fun as the Q5. At least fun the way I see it. So a lighter, tighter, meaner Porsche SUV? How can it go wrong? But it was precisely the success of the Audi and those like it that had many fans wondering about the Macan. The market is full of similarly-sized SUVs, some of the best of which are from a sister company. The new vehicle is a big jump for Porsche, though the company has taken so many big jumps (Cayenne, Panamera) that they must be pretty comfortable with them. The Macan is, just like the two just mentioned, meant to bring a whole new type of buyer to the brand. Infect a whole new generation. The question was, though, how different would this new Porsche be? From the Cayenne, from the other small SUVs under the same corporate umbrella, from other sports SUVs?

 

The answer to all the questions, as seen by the Porsche people, is in a very simple statement. “This is the first sports car in this segment.” And they do back that statement up. For one thing, and this does make things rather confusing, every single Macan currently available is turbocharged. Some of them twice. The 2 liter petrol destined for only a very few markets (not ours as of now) is turbocharged. The 3 liter V6 diesel is turbocharged, and puts out 258 horsepower at 4000 to 4250 rpm and 428 lb ft of torque that comes in at 1750 to 2500 rpm. The 3 liter V6 of the Macan S is a biturbo, numbers at 350hp at 5500 to 6500 rpm and torque at a slightly less insane 339 lb ft but coming in even lower and way wider at 1450 to 5000 rpm. Then you have the current big man on campus, also a biturbo. The Macan Turbo uses 3.6 liters of V6 to put out 4oohp at 6000 rpm and torque that almost touches the diesels in max at 406 lb ft but again has it come in at a nice wide swath between an even lower 1350 rpm up to 4500. All great numbers, all part of the more modern generation of engines the world now sees that produce so much more from so much less hardworking displacement. The key though, and this is where the Porsche-ness should come in, is what does it do with it?

Well, what it does with it turns out to need big, fat rear tires to handle it. Unlike many SUVs, the Macan uses bigger tires in the rear than it does in the front. Just like sports cars. This makes it look more purposeful but what else does it do in an all wheel drive vehicle that is supposed to be able to claw with everything when needed? It turns out the big back is there for a reason. The Macan drivetrain is biased more for the rear wheel drive feel and handling of fun cars than it is for offroaders. We all do so love the Audi Quattro system, but Porsche apparently didn’t want it. They use their own Torsen-based AWD system that can throw everything to either axle, fast. Porsche Traction Management is generally biased to the back (around three-quarters to the rear as standard) as it is, but can put 100% there if the computers decide that’s where you want it. Or 100% to the front if you are on a surface with almost no traction and your rears keep wanting to spin. Note though that the axles are never uncoupled in these situations rather the torque is electronically distributed through a multi-plate clutch.

The Macan suspension uses a front axle based on a five link design, the rear formed by a trapezoidal-link design. Separate arrangement of springs and dampers on the rear is meant not just to improve ride and comfort, but also allow larger loading width for the luggage compartment. There are three chassis suspension versions for the Macan. The Macan S and Macan S Diesel come with steel springs and conventional dampers. For the Macan Turbo, Porsche Active Suspension Management is standard but is an option for the other models. PASM actively and continuously regulates damper force on all axles based on data from sensors looking at things like lateral acceleration, steering angle, brake pressure and engine torque. It can optimize for both on and off road, and allows the choice of “Comfort”, “Sport” and “Sport Plus” settings. The third available suspension combines a first in this segment; air suspension. You can increase even further in the directions of either comfort or handling as you wish, and also have the ability to raise and lower the vehicle as desired.

Putting a stop to the Macan are sixpiston fixed caliper brakes with aluminium mono-bloc brake callipers on the front, disc diameter of 350mm for the S and 360 for the Turbo. The rears have fourpiston combined floating calibre brakes with integrated electronic parking brake, 330mm for the S and 356 mm for the Turbo. They all benefit from Porsche’s new multi-collision brake safety system. Statistics show that around one-fourth of accidents are multi-collision incidents where there is a second hit after the first. The Multi-brake system automatically brakes the vehicle involved in a crash, and is triggered when the airbag sensors detect the first impact. The hope is to lessen speed and energy in case the car is still moving and in danger, but will be over-ridden if the driver accelerates. The secondary braking is limited in strength, so the driver can maintain control of the vehicle. As always, the seriously cool and even more seriously expensive Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes are an available option.

All the right numbers and statistics point to speed and car-like handling. Jumping into the driver’s seat does not disappoint. The steering wheel is a brand new design based on that of the 918. All the needed knobs are designed to be within reach without your hands leaving the wheel, or falling quickly to hand nearby. You will be sitting relatively low compared to other SUVs, seats are more sporty and more aggressively bolstered, the steering column is inclined a bit more. A forward-sloping center console that benefits from Porsche’s increased attention paid to interiors helps complete the racecar vs SUV feel. Paddles are standard, PDK comes on all Macans and is not the previous and somewhat controversial button type. There are seats for 5, though the middle passenger in the rear will have to contend with the transmission tunnel (remember, the Macan sits lower, and has a lower center of gravity, than most bread and butter SUVs) but otherwise there is a fair amount of space. The strikingly sloping roofline doesn’t hurt rear headroom. If you really care about the guys in the rear, you can get optional threezone climate control. Two zone is standard. Comfort seats with an Alcantara center are standard for the Macan S, Adaptive Sports Seats come with the Macan Turbo.

Enough about rear seats in a Porsche. Let’s get back to the front. The car (note the word car) does indeed combine the higher visibility of the SUV with the feel of a nice sedan. We began, as most would if this were a daily driver, in traffic. The Macan feels just right for the cut and thrust of modern urban commutes, no extra size and weight hanging out, no massive blind spots so dangerous in other big SUVs from other continents. It feels actually more like a hot wagon than it does an SUV, which does seem to bring us the best of both worlds. The Macan has a pretty cool Porsche first, one that could only be done because the front wheels are smaller than the rears. It uses the electro-mechanical power steering system you would find on sports cars. While many purists still want mechanical linkages to the wheels, this system does better than most in keeping precision and feel. It also apparently saves fuel. Porsche engineers say that this system saves up to .1 liter of fuel for every 100 kilometers compared to conventional hydraulic systems. An optional Power Steering Plus system would increase both comfort and precision, with greater assistance at low speeds and more direct and tight movements at higher velocities.

We started the test drive days with the Macan S, which proved to be completely pleasant for a regular drive. The Porsche feel and excitement was there, but not in any intrusive of attention-getting way. When city streets gave way to highways, the two turbochargers on the three liter V6 spooled up quickly and made highspeed acceleration a simple exercise. The car was tight, much less body movement than you would expect but without any harshness that often comes when you try and make a heavy SUV actually handle. As you increase speeds and start making more sudden movements, you don’t feel the usual heavy wallows you would expect. Side to side movement in controlled, even heavy braking doesn’t unsettle very much. It is clear that the skewing of materials and design for a lower center of gravity worked. The Macan just feels light and tight, balanced rather than bulky.

The Macan Turbo brought on the power, Horsepower moves up from 340 to a flat 400, torque from 460 to 550. Interesting to note that while the Macan Turbo has maximum torque coming in 100rpm lower at 1350 than the S, the band is actually 400 rpm narrower. This helped contribute to the fact that while the Macan Turbo was perkier and quicker, the S did feel a bit smoother to drive from an engine point of view. Counter that with the fact that the Turbo may actually be more comfortable to some thanks to the upgraded and more adjustable suspension. The S gets to 100 and 160 kph in 5.4 and 13.2 seconds respectively, the Turbo does 4.8 and 11.1. While the Turbo does feel quicker and more purposeful, neither Macan feels like a screamer. Everything feels calm and balanced, smooth rather than spiky. There is no real harshness anywhere, nor is there any serious wallowing, and in this class you would often have to choose between one or the other.

We had the Macan S for city driving, highway speeds and some mountain curves, then we switched to the Macan Turbo for more of the curves as well as some early morning rush from sea to mountaintop. And back. Twice. I only stopped because we had to leave for the airport. This was where the car was truly defined. It had touches of all the other Porsches, least of which honestly was the Cayenne. Perhaps only the general size and slightly higher eye level was what connected the two. The Macans have power, but it isn’t rip-roaring or insane, more smooth and subtle. It could pull you out of a corner with much gusto, but we were more rewarded if we kept things smooth. We weren’t fighting the weight of the vehicle, which you would even with most sedans let alone SUVs. You cannot say the Macan has the brilliant balance of the Cayman or Boxster, but it has far more of it than the Cayenne. It isn’t penalized for being higher off the ground than the Panamera, actually it almost forces you to choose whether being or not being higher and seeing better is more important than lower center of gravity. And whereas many wonderfully sorted out all wheel drive systems make you feel planted, the Macan does feel definitely rear-wheel biased.

There is the Porsche purist argument that they should all be low-slung sports cars. Great as that would be, the big Cayennes and the four door Panameras have proven their worthiness of the Stuttgart badge and their place in the world. What we may well see happening though, is that this compact SUV named after a tiger could be considered closer to the purist Porsche spirit of form following function than those that came before it.

 

Porsche Macan Turbo
Engine: V6
Location: Front, Longitudinal
Displacement: 3,604 cc
Cylinder Block: Cast Aluminum
Cylinder Head: Cast Aluminum, dohc, 4 valves per cylinder, Variable Valve Timing, Twin Turbo
Fuel Injector: Direct Fuel Injection
Max Power: 400 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque: 406 lb ft @ 1,350 – 4,500 rpm
Drag Coefficient: 0.37 cd
Transmission: 7- Speed PDK, All-wheel-drive, with electronically controlled, map-controlled multi-plate clutch
Front Suspension: Extra large format double wishbone suspension, fully independent
Rear Suspension: Multi link suspension, fully independent
Fuel Capacity: 75 liters (19.8 gallons)
L x W x H: 4,681 mm x 1,923 mm x 1,624 mm
Wheelbase: 2,807 mm
Brakes: (Front) 14.17” ventilated discs with 6 piston monobloc aluminum fixed calipers)/ (Rear) 14.02” ventilated discs with 4 piston monobloc aluminum with ABS
Wheels: 8J x 19” (Front)/ 9J x 19” (Rear) Macan Turbo Wheels
Tires: (Front) 235/55 R 19 101 / (Rear) 255/50 R 18 103
Weight: 1,925 kg (4244 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): : 4.8 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 266 km/h (165 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 8.0 km/L Overall

Porsche Macan S
Engine: V6
Location: Front, Longitudinal
Displacement: 2,997 cc
Cylinder Block: Cast Aluminum
Cylinder Head: Cast Aluminum, dohc, 4 valves per cylinder, Variable Valve Timing, Twin Turbo
Fuel Injector: Direct Fuel Injection
Max Power: 340 bhp @ 5,500 – 6,500 rpm
Max Torque: 339 lb ft @ 1,450 – 5,000 rpm
Drag Coefficient: 0.36 cd
Transmission: 7- Speed PDK, All-wheel-drive, with electronically controlled, map-controlled multi-plate clutch
Front Suspension: Extra large format double wishbone suspension, fully independent
Rear Suspension: Multi link suspension, fully independent
Fuel Capacity: 75 liters (19.8 gallons)
L x W x H: 4,681 mm x 1,923 mm x 1,624 mm
Wheelbase: 2,807 mm
Brakes: (Front) 13.78” ventilated discs with 6 piston monobloc aluminum fixed calipers/ (Rear) 13” ventilated discs with 4 piston monobloc aluminum with ABS
Wheels: 8J x 19” (Front)/ 9J x 19”(Rear) Macan Design Wheels
Tires: (Front) 235/55 R 19 101 / (Rear) 255/50 R 18 103
Weight: 1,865 kg (4112 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): : 5.4 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 254 km/h (158 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 8.0 km/L Overall

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