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Porsche Macan Turbo First Drive

What is it?

The Porsche Macan might be the second SUV Porsche has ever made, but compared to its first, the Cayenne, it is a completely different animal. And a more desirable and likeable one at that. In India, the Macan is sold in three trims – the Macan S in diesel guise, the Macan Turbo, and the Macan Turbo with a performance pack. Our car is the Turbo. It retails for around Rs 1.18 crore ex-showroom and honestly, at this price point, it doesn’t really have any competition.

Now, the idea behind doing the Macan – besides riding the SUV boom which seems to have engulfed the whole wide world – was to have a Porsche that was less intimidating, more practical and easier to live with than Porsche’s traditional line up of 911s, Caymans and Boxsters. But, it had to be fun, fast and tempting; something the Cayenne couldn’t exactly nail.

Enter the Macan.

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How is it on the inside?

The Porsche Macan might be an all-new car, built from the grounds up, for a specific purpose. But, inside, it is like any other Porsche. The instrument cluster with the tacho in the centre; the cluttered central console; the three-spoke sporty steering wheel; and the cliff–like dash design are all elements we have seen on Porsches before. There’s lots of leather and soft grain plastic, and additionally, the Macan uses the same buttons, knobs, stalks, dials and even inside door handles as other Porsches.

So, in that sense, it doesn’t feel very special. And even though we rate the overall quality, fit and finish, and the plush co-efficient high for the Macan’s interior, the control elements could certainly do with better damping; in order to convey that high-end, luxury feel, the Macan’s pricing demands, if nothing else.

The Macan also isn’t exactly spacious as a five-seater. For four, with its beautifully contoured, firm and spacious seats (the ones at the front are lovely being adjustable for everything under the sun), the Macan makes for comfortable seating for both short and long trips. And for four, there’s decent knee and shoulder room, front and back. Headroom though, specifically at the rear, is a problem. Plus, the rear passengers, courtesy the large front seat backs, small windows and a tapering roof line, can feel hemmed in.

But you can’t fault the Macan Turbo when it comes to the fancy bits. It has a whole host of electronic wizardry working out of sight, and inside the cabin, there’s three-zone climate control, front seats that adjust for everything including side bolstering and seat squab length, and it also gets Porsche’s new elaborate and nice sounding communication system. And there’s a lot more which you can find out here

How does it drive?

But, none of these matters once you start driving. This, the Macan Turbo, is powered by a 400bhp, V6, twin turbo petrol engine. The engine is mated to a fine, quick responding and intuitive 7-speed dual clutch automatic. Together, even though the Macan weighs almost two-tonnes, it still manages to dispatch the 0-100kmph run in under five seconds! This is a fast SUV.

And it is fast no matter what mode you choose. The Macan comes with three pre-programmed driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus, which alter the steering, throttle and gear shift responses. Sport Plus is our pick. It makes the Macan taut, alert, and as close to the Porsche legend as an SUV can get. Every time you call on the accelerator pedal, the Macan just raises its nose and goes about chasing the horizon as if all it ever wanted was to fly. Chances are you will run out of road or guts or both before the Macan runs out of grunt.

Here are some performance figures to whet your appetite. The Macan Turbo gets to 100kmph in 4.69 seconds. In 18.26 seconds it is already flying past 200kmph. Top speed for the Turbo is a limited 266kmph. But, you don’t need the Christmas tree off the drag strip every time you feel the need for speed; no matter what speed or driving mode, just stamp on that throttle and brace yourself to be taken for a fast, exhilarating ride. Just to bring things in perspective, the Macan only takes 3.21 seconds to complete the 20-80kmph kickdown, and 3.81 seconds for the 40-100kmph run.

Straight-line performance is only part of this delicious recipe, because the Porsche Macan can corner as well. And how! Its cornering ability has to be experienced to be believed. It has a quick steering rack and an equally alert front end. In fact, the Macan’s is the quickest responding front end on any SUV I have ever driven. You turn and it goes. No hesitation, no vagueness, and hardly any understeer. What’s more, once turned in, the Macan doesn’t roll too much and thanks to its smart all-wheel-drive system working alongside various other electronics, it doesn’t matter when you get on the gas in a corner, the Macan just pulls you out of it as if there was endless grip. It really is outstanding.

There is one issue though – the low speed ride. It is stiff, noisy and unlike a luxury car. You can hear the suspension and feel the side-to-side movement on anything but perfect tarmac. Pick up speed, however, and it almost feels plush. But no, it is not a car I’d recommend for our monsoon-ravaged roads…

Should I buy one?

Here’s the thing with the Porsche Macan, particularly the Turbo. It is a heart decision. It’s for those who truly enjoy driving, love powerful cars and don’t want to go on for a single day without feeling that thrill and fun only a fast, fantastic and feel-some sports car can deliver. The Macan Turbo is the closest one can get to this in SUV form. And given our roads, one does need something high, something more robust, and something more practical than a low-slung car to satisfy the ‘everyday’ clause.

Where does it fit in?

If we had to find a five-seater, petrol-powered, performance-oriented SUV at the same price point as the Porsche Macan Turbo to compare it against, there’s one very unlikely challenger – the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Yes, the SRT is bigger, more powerful and it has a massive V8. But given Jeep’s roots, it is more for crossing continents with than clocking fast lap times. One can also look at performance sedans as an alternative to the Macan Turbo – you know the likes of the AMGs and the Ms, but these are pricier still…


Photos by Kapil Angane

Click here to read our experience at the Porsche Driving School in Dubai

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