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2017 Porsche Macan Road Test
New entry-level Porsche is fuel-efficient and plenty of fun
Porsche’s Macan has moved up Canadian sales charts dramatically since its first full year of availability in 2015 when it sold 2,121 units to the close of 2016 when its final tally was an impressive 2,800, its recent ability to target an entirely new audience of entry-level luxury buyers probably having much to do with it.
Enter the all-new 2017 Porsche Macan. No, I’m not talking about the fabulous Macan S and its 340 horsepower 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that’s been available since the sporty utility debuted as a 2015 model. That trim continues forward into 2017 as one of the compact luxury SUV segment’s quickest and most agile vehicles, but its $61,400 price point, while reasonable for what you get, puts it out of reach of many would-be buyers. Porsche has addressed this issue with a new base four-cylinder Macan that starts at just $54,100, hence the stronger sales numbers.
A new engine gets added to the Porsche lineup
Yes, it seems hard to believe but you can purchase a new Porsche in the mid-$50k range, and its 2.0-litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder with 252-horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque still pulls off a relatively speedy 6.7-second sprint to 100km/h (or 6.5 with the as-tested Sport Chrono package) before attaining a top track speed of 229 km/h (142 mph). The new engine comes mated to an extremely quick yet smooth shifting seven-speed dual-clutch PDK automated gearbox with aluminum steering wheel paddles, which powers all four wheels via standard all-wheel drive.
Cayenne aside, the Macan is the SUV to buy for maximizing on-road performance. Handling is superb, especially when upfitted with larger rims and tires as was the case with my tester that benefited from a $1,440 set of 19-inch Turbo rims on 235/55 Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-seasons, the only other option added being the $1,500 Sport Chrono package that replaces the regular dash-top clock with a sporty analog/digital stopwatch.
The Sport Chrono package also includes a Sport Plus button on the lower console for modulating throttle response, PSM (Porsche Stability Management) and PTM (Porsche Traction Management) settings, adds a special performance display within the PCM (Porsche Communication Management), and provides launch control for the best possible sprint times.
Sporty yet very fuel-efficient
Thanks to its efficient four-cylinder, low-friction multi-speed gearbox, auto start/stop with coasting capability, kinetic energy recovery, and yet more mileage enhancing technologies the base Macan’s fuel economy is quite good at 11.6 L/100km city, 9.3 highway and 10.6 combined.
Along with the efficient yet potent powertrain the Macan delivers one of the best balanced chassis in the compact SUV sector, no matter the trim level chosen, as well as attractive Porsche styling, and an extremely well made interior filled with more high-quality pliable surfaces and premium trims than the majority of challengers.
Even the base Macan covers the seats in soft genuine feeling leatherette with even softer Alcantara psuede inserts, while the leather wrapping the steering wheel is even more upscale. The shape of the rim is as good as sport steering wheels get too, while the aluminum-accented twinned-three-spoke design is gorgeous and switchgear superbly executed (the heatable steering wheel button is cleverly hidden between the two prongs of the centre spoke). The rest of the cabin gets satin-finish aluminum trim in key places, enough buttons and toggles down the centre and overhead consoles to make an ‘80s Nakamichi tape deck buff drool (that would be me).
Future-tech infotainment adds to the Macan’s a forward design
Speaking of latest tech kit, the Macan’s state-of-the-art digital interfaces are also notable. The primary gauge cluster remains a mostly analog affair, other than a neatly integrated high-resolution TFT colour multi-info display where the right dial used to go in older models. The overall design stays the same, but the PCM touchscreen over on the centre stack is larger at seven inches and includes some impressive features like proximity sensing with digital buttons that pop out when your fingers come close, plus tablet style multi-touch gestures, and Apple CarPlay. It’s a marked improvement over the outgoing system, especially its navigation system that’s now as accurate as the industry’s best.
Porsche also provides new placement for its powered USB port so it’s easier to plug in your smartphone, while Wi-Fi and on-board 4G LTE internet are now on the menu. Lastly, the new system allows for remote mobile device-to-vehicle connectivity via a downloadable app.
Another 2017 bonus is completely revised rear-seat entertainment including a set of monitors attached to the backside of the front headrests, multiple HDMI and USB ports, and an SD card reader, while music and video can be streamed into the system via the same 4G LTE/Wi-Fi system.
A superb assortment of standard and optional equipment
As noted, our 2017 Macan tester included nothing more than the upgraded wheels and Sport Chrono package, which was a good thing as it allowed me to experience the pure essence of the base model without a lot of pricey extras. Therefore most everything already noted (other than the Sport Chrono Package and wheels) comes standard, with additional standard kit including LED DLRs, fog lamps, LED taillights with adaptive brake lights, heatable powered side-mirrors, an electromechanical parking brake, rain-sensing wipers, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, tri-zone auto climate control with active carbon and pollen filtration, good sounding eight-speaker 150-watt audio with digital signal processing, a single CD/DVD drive, dual SD card slots, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, an AUX/USB/iPod interface, HD and satellite radio, a backup camera with active guidelines, front and rear parking sensors, eight-way powered and heated front seats, a powered liftgate, a removable cargo cover, optimally flexible 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks expanding a 500-litre cargo hold up to 1,500 litres, tire pressure monitoring, lane departure warning, all the usual active and passive safety features, and more.
That last bit is the real gist of the Macan. It’s well known for performing better than most competitors, especially in upper trims, while no one should try and argue against its build quality without fear of losing face, or for that matter its list of available features that could fill a book, but when discussing Porsche’s entry-level ute most don’t talk practicality, which it has in spades. It’s really a comfortable SUV capable of packing in five sizeable adults and a considerable amount of gear, and when you need to haul something home from the hardware store it complies with more cargo volume than its sleek exterior styling should allow. The luggage compartment is as nicely finished as anything in the class too, with premium carpeting on the load floor, on the backs of the rear seats, and up each sidewall, chromed tie-down hooks in key positions, and useful elasticized webbed netting all over.
Some extras worth anteing up for
If this were my personal ride I’d probably want to add a few extras, such as the $7,250 Premium Package Plus that comes with adaptive cornering HID headlights, proximity access and pushbutton ignition, auto-dimming side mirrors, 14-way powered memory seats with ventilation up front and heatable outboard seats in back, a panoramic glass sunroof, and 14-speaker 200-watt Bose surround audio. The $1,960 Connect Plus package would be tempting too, due to the 4G LTE and Wi-Fi mentioned earlier, as well as real-time traffic information, navigation with useful info such as news, weather, flight details, portal POIs, etcetera, nav map updates, Porsche Connect App Services (that actually includes Napster), Car Connect Services, Online Destination Search using Google, and Apple CarPlay.
There are so many other possibilities, but it’s best to speak with someone at Porsche Centre Vancouver to figure out which Macan fits your needs and wants more specifically.
I was surprised how much fun this new base four-cylinder model was to drive, and was once again impressed with how well the Macan is finished inside and out.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.
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