Porsche's Macan Turbo sets the standard that all sports SUVs have to match. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Porsche's phenomenally multi-talented Macan Turbo delivers a 394bhp haymaker to the sports SUV division, laying out all comers. It'll get to 62mph in 4.6 seconds, handle like a GTI, direct all that power to the tarmac out of corners and, with the right wheels and tyres fitted, be happy up to its axles in mud. Oh, and it'll still burble around the school run quite happily. It's close to genius.
Votes in please for your favourite front-engined Porsche. The 944 would get a few votes, as would the 928. Porsche cognoscenti might get a bit clever, nominating the 968 Turbo RS, of which only four were ever built, but the best front-engined car to hail from Weissach might very well be this one; the Macan Turbo. Before you dismiss this as the ravings of a crank, bear with it for a while. Best doesn't always have to be defined by narrow-focus criteria such as peak apex speed or units shifted. As a vehicle that blends effortless pace, practicality, reliability, accessibility and sheer fun, the Macan Turbo racks up a lot of plus points. Of course, it's different strokes for different folks, but it's hard to argue against this car's all-round skill set. All-wheel drive, 394bhp and proper Porsche-style dynamics? Step right up.
This flagship model is powered by a 3.6-litre twin-turbo petrol engine that's good for 394bhp and 550Nm. It gets to 62mph from rest in a blistering 4.6 seconds and registers a top speed of 165mph. It comes with a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox, with a Sport button to sharpen shift times, throttle response and steering. The exhaust exhibits a full repertoire of crackles and pops on the overrun and upshifts arrive with a snarl. Four-wheel drive is standard, although in normal road conditions, 100 per cent of torque is directed to the rear axle. Should momentary slip be detected, a clutch pack locks, which can then send up to 100 per cent of torque to the front axle. There's also a torque vectoring rear differential available as an option. The Macan Turbo features a dedicated off-road mode, which optimises the torque split and gearbox shift points to better optimise grip and torque when it gets really slippery. There's even a trusty hill descent control system but the Turbo's road-focused tyres aren't going to be much cop on wet grass. In ruts you'd destroy the alloy wheels in minutes.
Design and Build
Despite being almost as quick in a straight line as a 911 Carrera, the Macan Turbo doesn't over-egg things visually. The profile looks like a shrunken Cayenne, although closer inspection reveals a more sharply-raked rear screen and more intricate forms to the lights and spoilers. The foursquare LED daylight running lights will shift traffic out of the right-hand lane while the Turbo also gets cuboid exhaust finishers and big air intakes in the front bumper. It rides as standard on 19-inch rims, although many buyers will be unable to resist upgrading to the 20 and 21inch options. If you do, you ought to shell out for the optional air suspension as well if you're not to destroy the ride quality. Even though this is Porsche's baby SUV, there's plenty of space inside. The Macan is built on a heavily modified version of the Audi Q5's MLB chassis. It's 4,681mm long and 1,923mm wide, which means it occupies a bigger footprint than its Audi cousin, but the wheelbase is a little smaller, meaning the Audi has a slight edge when it comes to rear seat space. There's a decent 500-litres of space in the boot which extends to 1,500-litres when the rear seats are folded.
Market and Model
Does around £60,000 strike you as a reasonable asking price? When all's said and done, this is still a compact SUV, but it's absolutely jewel-like in its execution and that bullet-train pace seems almost worth the price of admission alone. There's really nothing to touch the Macan as a dynamic entity. BMW's fastest X3 doesn't really get close and while Audi's SQ5 seems to offer 90 per cent of the Porsche's ability for 75 per cent of the price, the reason people will buy the Macan Turbo is because that last 10 per cent is important. Equipment levels are relatively generous, with the Turbo fitted with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), satellite navigation, a Bose stereo, leather upholstery, 18-way adjustable adaptive sports seats and bi-xenon headlights. Air suspension adds around £1,000, ceramic brakes another £5,500 and the Burmester high-end stereo looks a tempter at £2,400.
Cost of Ownership
Porsche has worked hard to improve efficiency and part of that price premium over an Audi Q5 can be ascribed to the use of aluminium body panels which pares 40kg from the car's kerb weight. The PDK gearbox has also been optimised for economy at cruising speeds too, with a coasting function that decouples the engine and gearbox when you lift the throttle on the motorway. There's also a start/stop mode to help cut fuel consumption in city traffic. As a result, the fuel economy for the Macan Turbo is 31.7mpg, but that's still not a bad return for an SUV that will get to 62mph in 4.8 seconds. Emissions are well controlled as well, with the powerhouse Turbo managing to keep things in check at 208g/km. Residual values look set to hold up strongly as a result. Buyers get a three year warranty which might seem a little mean in this day and age but it does include an unlimited mileage clause.
Nothing prepares you for how fast the Porsche Macan Turbo feels. You drop the hammer, cling on and before too long, you're jumping on the brakes, sitting there with eyes wide, thinking SUVs just shouldn't do that. You expect it from a 911 or a hot Cayman but the traction and pickup of the Macan is just addictive. It corners too, the poise of the body control defying its ride height. The all-wheel drive system deploys power intelligently to each wheel, the driving position is set nicely down in the car and the steering is beautifully calibrated. There are inherent aspects of SUVs such as weight, height and size that are clearly antithetical to a feeling of inherent sportiness and although the Macan Turbo can't bend the rules of physics to its will, its sheer depth of engineering steamrollers any doubt that this is the best sporting SUV by a massive margin. The best front-engined Porsche ever? Try and show us something more talented.