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Porsche Macan R4 First Drive Review

What is it?

 When we drove the Porsche Macan especially in the racy Turbo guise, we were zapped by how this SUV was able to feel more like a sportscar than a jacked up crossover. It feels like a Porsche in every way, be it in the way it drives, to the way it looks and the way it feels solidly put together too. But the Rs one crore plus rupee price tag was a big shame and that meant, the German manufacturer was never able to sell it in good numbers. Now with fresh competition in form of the Jaguar F-Pace, Porsche has come up with a cheaper version on the SUV called the R4. But does it feel every bit Porsche like its more powerful brothers? We drove the R4 over two days to find out.

The term more affordable is more appropriate than calling the R4 cheap as it still retails at a steep Rs 76.84 lakh. And if you add the options which our test car came with, then the price starts threatening the Rs one crore barrier. On the outside, the Macan R4 looks exactly the same as the diesel S or even the Turbo version. The difference is you get higher profile tyres with smaller rims but that too can be specced the way you want. Upfront, the signature egg shaped Porsche headlamps set the tone and the gaping front grille looks really nice. 

Although the Macan is based on the Audi Q5 platform, there is no resemblance in the way this crossover looks and the only bit in common are the compact dimensions. But it’s from the rear where the Macan looks really alluring as the tear-drop tail lamps and the bulging tail gate gives the Macan a very sporty stance.

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How is it on the inside?

Although this is the cheapest version of the Macan, there is nothing cheap about its interior, and in true German fashion, the build quality feels tank-like and the quality is as good as any other Porsche. Like on the outside, there are loads of optional extras here too, like the Sport Chrono pack, upholstery choice, infotainment screen among many others. The slab-like dash looks purposeful and the well-defined centre console which extends all the way down to the gear selector gives the front passengers a cocooned feeling. At first, the sea of buttons next to the gear lever and centre console might look daunting but once use to, all of them start making sense and you don’t have to go through innumerable sub menus to change settings.

On our test car, the infotainment screen was quite small, which in-turn made using the touchscreen a bit difficult. The front seats are well-shaped with good side bolstering. You sit relatively low in the Macan which makes getting in and out very easy. At the rear the R4 is surprisingly roomy with good knee and decent headroom. The bench itself is quite comfy and the adjustable backrest helps further. But occupants at the rear feel a bit claustrophobic thanks to the large front seats and the high window line. Like with most cars, it works best as a four-seater, thanks to the large transmission tunnel and limited shoulder room.

In standard form, the Macan R4 has just about decent equipment levels. You get a powered tailgate, cruise control, a nice sounding Bose audio system with smartphone mirroring tech, electrically powered seats, lot of airbags, Porsche Traction Management, Porsche Stability Management and some more. Some common features, however, are on the options list. You will have to shell out nearly Rs 1.15 lakh for the park assist with rear camera and an additional Rs 2.50 lakh for the panoramic sunroof. The Sport Chrono Package, which adds an analogue clock, Sport Plus driving mode and launch control function, is yours for Rs 1.65 lakh. As we found out, it’s easy to jack up the ex-showroom price of the Macan R4 to over a crore by selecting the items on the options list.

How does it drive?

So does the Macan with two fewer cylinders feel slow in a straight-line? Not one bit. Off course it doesn’t have the ferocious grunt of the Turbo, but for a 2.0-litre motor the R4 feels exceptional. We clocked a 0-100kmph time of 6.63 seconds which is surprisingly faster than the claimed figure. It comes as an even bigger surprise when you consider we do our tests with a full tank of fuel and two people onboard. What helps the R4 set this blistering time is the launch control system our test car came equipped with. Set the drive mode in Sport +, point the steering straight, full throttle and let go off the brake and the R4 leaps forward with right amount of wheel spin. The thrust is strong and the well-tuned gearbox makes full use of the strong mid and top end of this 252bhp motor.

Even at low speeds this motor doesn’t feel out of its comfort-zone and the only downside is the gearbox which tends to rapidly upshift in comfort mode to aid efficiency. At this point if you want to surge ahead of slow traffic, the gearbox doesn’t respond with the same immediacy as you’d expect it to. But out on the highway the R4 just flies and be it overtaking or cruising, you are never left wanting for more from the engine and the gearbox. The seven-speed dual clutch gearbox has snappy gearshifts and other than the hesitation at low speeds, it always finds the right gear for most situations. As a result, the drivability test figures are impressive too as the R4 clocked a time of 4.29sec for the 20-80kmph test and a competitive 5.38sec for the 40-100kmph run (drivability runs are done in Comfort and ‘D’ mode).

We were really looking forward to drive the R4 on standard steel springs but unfortunately our test car came with the optional air suspension. Being a Porsche you know it is going to drive well, but just turn the wheel of the R4 into a corner and it just completely blows the laws of physics out of the window. The R4 felt quite similar to the previous versions we had driven and thanks to a lighter engine it felt even more willing. In the R4 all the controls feel like they are connected to your brain, be it the responsive steering or the instantaneous throttle response or the linearity of the brake pedal. You ask for 50% and it gives you 50%, which shows the attention to detail and phenomenal engineering prowess Porsche possess. Driven hard into a corner the R4 shows remarkable composure, and the more you push it the more it comes alive. Of course there is some body roll especially in comfort mode, but it never dips beyond a point and the well contoured seats help you stay in place. Its just remarkable how light footed the Macan feels and it is impossible to relate it to the Q5 (which it’s based on), which is not even close to the way the R4 drives.

Then there is the ride quality which is genuinely good. You do get some pitter-patter and some vertical movement over rippled surfaces but it never feels uncomfortable. Even at low speeds the suspension is quite absorbent and unless you are in Sport + mode you never feel rough. Sharp bumps though does catch the R4 suspension out, as it tends to crash through them.


Should I buy one?

Considering the options our R4 variant came with, you can also get the distinctive Mercedes GLE450 AMG Coupe for that kind of money. But if you are an enthusiast who also wants the practicality of a SUV, there are not many cars that better the Macan. Even with the smaller 2.0-litre heart, the R4 variant is not only easier on the pocket, but also has more than enough grunt to exploit that deliciously balanced chassis. Then there is the attention to detail and the rock solid build quality which makes the money you have spent all the more worth it.

Where does it fit in?

The Porsche Macan’s main rival is the Jaguar F-Pace 2.0-litre diesel version which retails for around the same money. At this price you can also get SUVs like the Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90, but they are much bigger and not as much fun to drive.


Pictures: Kapil Angane


Porsche Macan Turbo First Drive

Porsche Macan R4 Competition check

Porsche launches cheaper Macan R4 at Rs 76.84 lakh

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