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2018 Porsche Macan Road Test Review

A comparison between original and updated models

Porsche is currently in the process of ushering in a 2019 Macan that features a few significant updates, which puts us in the position of saying so long to the original, a compact luxury SUV that truly put the word “sport” back into the just noted three-letter acronym. This leaves Macan shoppers with a choice, to go with the well-proven 2015-2018 original right now, or choose the refreshed 2019.

Those leaning toward the latter will want to pay close attention to this review, because I’ll point out the few major changes that could either sway your opinion or solidify it, although this said my objective with this review is to make sure that you’re fully happy with your choice in the end. Sound good? Let’s get started.

One thing that needs no contemplation when it comes to choosing between 2018 and 2019 Macan models is performance, because both qualify amongst the sportiest compact luxury SUVs currently available. Yes, a number of niche market players have anted up with challengers that at first glance appear like credible opponents, but in this class a given model’s performance criteria also needs to include reliability, and Porsche leads all relevant rivals in the most recent J.D. Power and Associates 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), with a score of second overall behind Lexus, a brand that doesn’t really compete directly.

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Performance remains a Macan strong point no matter the model year

Even the entry-level Macan that’s being reviewed here performs to a higher level than most premium-branded competitors, which was immediately made apparent when starting up the sport-tuned 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, blipping the throttle, and then hearing its raspy exhaust note. It sounds even better when revs climb and it feels more engaging when flicking through the standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters of its superbly quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automated PDK transmission, its spirited straight-line acceleration only upstaged by a chassis that’s clearly still leading this segment.

The four-cylinder in question is direct injected and turbocharged, plus infused with VarioCam technology and kinetic energy recovery, all combining toward a healthy 252 horsepower and extremely strong 273 lb-ft of torque. The result is a hard-charging 6.7-second run from zero to 100km/h, or 6.5 seconds when upgraded with the $1,500 Sport Chrono Package, which also adds Sport and Off-Road modes to the mix, not to mention launch control and a special performance display within the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system. Active all-wheel drive comes standard across the Macan line, providing a sure grip of the road below no matter the surface type or weather conditions.

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Making the base model’s capability quite clear, Porsche hadn’t upgraded my tester with its Sport Chrono Package, or for that matter the $1,560 Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system that enhances the Macan’s underpinnings with an electronically variable active damping system featuring Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes, or the fully optimized $3,140 Air Suspension that also includes PASM, while there are a number of other performance upgrades that could have been included as well, but even without these improvements it was a dream to drive, with eager off-the-line acceleration and a stunning level of stability when tossed into sharp high-speed turns, the SUV’s standard aluminum double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link design in the rear completely respecting the legendary coloured crest on its hood and block-lettered “PORSCHE” nomenclature on its liftgate.

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Macan goes big on safety and convenience features

A few features incorporated into my test model included a $790 Lane Change Assist system that warns when wandering from a chosen lane, when veering toward the roadside, or when a vehicle pulling up from behind makes an immediate lane change inadvisable. An additional $790 provides for Lane Keeping Assist, which not only warns but also can momentarily take control of the wheel at speeds above 64 km/h, while my test model also featured $1,650 adaptive cruise control, which has become a personal favourite feature that I wouldn’t want to live without.

Open the door and you’ll quickly see some other upgrades that made my Macan more appealing than the most basic model, such as a $2,230 Garnet Red leather package that came with $1,960 14-way powered front seats featuring memory, but I should mention here that these upgraded seats (that don’t necessarily need to include the lovely red hue) are also featured in the $7,250 Premium Package Plus (and can be further improved with $430 18-way Adaptive Sport Seats) that also adds proximity access, keyless ignition, auto-dimming side mirrors, a big panoramic moonroof, three-way cooled front seats, three-way heated rear outboard positions, fantastic Bose surround audio (or you can spend $5,370 more for the same package with the superb 1,000-watt 16-speaker Burmester surround system), Bi-Xenon headlamps with the curve-bending Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) (or you can choose full LED headlamps when adding $1,340 to the same package), while a couple of standalone upgrades added to my tester included $1,890 19-inch Macan Turbo alloys shod in 235/55R19 Pirelli tires, and finally a set of $440 black roof rails, with all the extras adding $14,250 to the final tally of $68,350, not including the industry’s most reasonable freight charge of $1,250.

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Of course, I haven’t even come close to scratching the surface as to everything available with the 2018 Macan, and I won’t even try to do so for the 2019 model. What I will do is itemize some base features included at this 2018 model’s $54,100 entry price, which by the way makes the Macan the most affordable Porsche in Canada. For starters, 18-inch alloy wheels come standard, as do fog lamps, LED taillights, an electromechanical parking brake, what I think is the best heatable leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel in the industry (I love its thin hollowed spokes and brilliantly designed switchgear), a colour multi-information display (that includes a map and route guidance when set to navigation plus loads of additional functionality), rain-sensing wipers, a HomeLink universal remote, powered and three-way heated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control (including active carbon and pollen filtration), a 7.2-inch PCM infotainment touchscreen, navigation, a reverse camera with active guidelines (plus a truly helpful overhead graphic that displays the proximity of surrounding objects when parking via standard front and rear parking sensors), HD and satellite radio, and plenty more.

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As ideally practical as it’s breathtakingly beautiful

Porsche includes a standard powered rear liftgate as well, which opens up to a large cargo compartment measuring 500 litres when the rear seats are in use. Even better, the Macan boasts 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks that put it amongst the most flexible passenger/cargo haulers in this class, due to an ability to lay longer items down the middle while rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable and scenic window seats which, if such longer cargo includes skis or snowboards and those outboard seats are equipped with heated cushions like my tester, is an especial bonus when needing to warm up after a day on the slopes. Upon removing the standard cargo cover and folding those seats flat the Macan’s capacity for stowing gear expands to a sizeable 1,500 litres, which when everything is said and done means this sportiest of compact crossover SUVs is also one of the more practical in its class.

When once again sitting up front in the Macan’s fully supportive leather-clad sport-designed driver’s seat, gripping the form-fitted leather-wrapped motorsport-inspired steering wheel, and eyeing the classic Porsche gauge cluster, all the while taking in the exquisitely finished cockpit and surrounding cabin ahead of what will surely be a fun-filled drive, practicality will probably be the last thing on your mind. Such is the difference between the Macan and most of its compact luxury SUV rivals, especially when going further than merely viewing the cabin, but prodding around for a full hands-on critique.

For instance, my test model’s dash top was surfaced in soft, supple black leather highlighted with sporty red contrast stitching to match the red leather seat and door panel upholstery, while added to this was premium-grade pliable composite covering the lower half of the instrument panel as well as all panels under the dash, the glove box lid and lower console sides included. Similarly, each door panel was a combination of high-grade leather and soft synthetic, from the very top to the very bottom, plus Porsche provided a plentiful assortment of beautifully finished satin-aluminum accents throughout the entire interior. And where are the low-end hard plastics hidden? Unlike most of the Macan’s competitors, you won’t find any. The Macan’s interior is superbly crafted.

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Comfortable seats support front and rear passengers during performance driving

As you might have expected, the Macan is wholly comfortable as well. My example’s 14-way powered seats provided ample adjustment that included four-way lumbar for ideal lower back support, plus extendable seat squabs that further supported under the knees. I also appreciated the Macan’s generous steering column rake and reach, which helped me set up an optimally comfortable driving position that also provided excellent control of the steering wheel and pedals.

Rear passengers should find the back seats plenty comfortable and supportive too. I had ample space in all directions when seated behind a driver’s seat that was pushed back farther than normal for someone measuring five-foot eight, due to my long-legged, short torso frame. The rear outboard positions more closely resembled the deeply sculpted front seats than most in this class, which makes sense considering how much quicker the Macan can be driven, and therefore how much more lateral support rear passengers may require.

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Macan offers a comprehensive assortment of performance options

Performance in mind, Macan customers wanting even stronger acceleration can opt for next-in-line S trim that fits a fabulously quick twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 within the engine bay, the well-proven performer good for 340 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque, which when fully extracted results in 100km/h from standstill in just 5.4 seconds, or when choosing the Sport Chrono Package only 5.2 seconds, while both versions manage a new top speed of 254 km/h compared to an already stellar 229 km/h for the base model.

Still want more? The Macan GTS provides 20 additional horsepower and 30 more lb-ft of torque for a new total of 360 and 369 respectively, whereas its zero to 100km/h time drops to 5.2 seconds, or 5.0 seconds with its Sport Chrono Package option, plus its terminal velocity jumps to 256 km/h.

Lastly (almost), the Macan Turbo (with “Turbo” referring to the model’s name and not just the turbocharger under the hood, due to all Macan models now utilizing turbocharged engines) packs a 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that puts out 400 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque for a zero to 100km/h sprint time of only 4.8 seconds, or alternatively 4.6 seconds when updated with the Sport Chrono Package, plus an even higher top speed of 266 km/h.

I said almost a moment before because a special Performance Edition can be added to the Turbo model that makes the Sport Chrono Package standard, plus adds 40 more horsepower and 36 additional lb-ft of torque for an ultimate total of 440 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, the end result being a blisteringly quick 4.4-second sprint from zero to 100km/h.

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Macan combines strong performance with impressive fuel economy

After this comprehensive rundown of Macan model performance it almost seems strange to segue into fuel economy, but now with $1.40-plus pump prices being worthy of lining up for at Greater Vancouver gas stations, and recent prices popping over $1.60 per litre plus premium fuel considerably more expensive, even luxury SUV buyers are paying attention to fuel efficiency, and of course reducing consumption goes a long way to improving our local air quality.

Porsche added fuel-saving and emissions reducing auto start/stop with coasting capability to the Macan for just these reasons, this technology temporarily turning the engine off when it would otherwise be idling and automatically restarting it when ready to go, which together with a plethora of efficiency technologies and processes helps the Macan achieve an 11.6 L/100km city, 9.3 highway and 10.5 combined Transport Canada fuel economy rating. This is an impressive feat when factoring in how sporty the Macan feels, even when going light on the gas pedal.

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Refreshed 2019 Macan provides plenty of important changes

Of note, Porsche makes some minor adjustments to a couple of the Macan’s engines for 2019, which won’t provide much change when it comes to fuel economy or performance (albeit the eight additional horsepower for the Macan S powerplant is attention worthy), but more significant tweaks to the Macan’s suspension system should be welcomed by all.

Reportedly the new Macan improves both ride quality and handling performance, the latter hard to imagine when considering just how sublime the current model is through fast-paced curves, but learning the results of the engineering team’s extensive efforts will certainly be a top priority when I’m able to get my hands on the new model.

An even stronger selling point, however, will be the 2019 Macan’s revised styling, which now includes standard LED headlamps as part of a modified frontal redesign. As nice as this now looks, the rear of the SUV has been given a much more comprehensive update that incorporates Porsche’s new three-dimensional LED taillight cluster, which is actually a single unit spanning the entire width of the SUV’s rear end. The upgrade ties the Macan more closely to its bigger Cayenne brother, which received a similar LED taillight treatment for its most recent update. I think both look great, so the one that works best for you will come down to personal taste.

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This all said I believe the new 2019 Macan’s most significant change is found in the cabin, where a new standard 10.9-inch high-definition touchscreen adorns a redesigned centre stack. The updated PCM features a near identical assortment of standard features as the 2018 model featured in this review, but of course the graphics have been modified to fit into the larger display, plus some functions, like the navigation map and the rearview camera are also made larger for easier viewing, and the operating system now reacts to inputs faster, plus there’s also a new Porsche Connect Plus app suite filled with a Wi-Fi hotspot included, but this said I can appreciate that many will be perfectly happy with the still sizeable 2018 infotainment display, which certainly performed well during my test.

Lastly, the 2019 Macan makes a new driver assist system available, that via adaptive cruise control provides more stress-free semi-autonomous driving that includes full acceleration, braking and lane keeping assist from zero to 60 km/h, which should make driving in Vancouver’s congested rush-hour traffic a lot more relaxing.

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A winning choice no matter which model year you opt for

Porsche Centre Vancouver currently has a wide variety of 2018 Macan models to choose from, plus a number of new 2019 models are available to test drive too, while I should also point out that the Macan now qualifies for an ultra-low 3.99-percent lease rate.

No matter which model year you choose, opting for a Macan guarantees that you’ll get the highest quality compact luxury crossover SUV available, that puts styling, performance, refinement and luxury on a higher scale than most challengers, while maintaining all of the practical benefits that have heaped so much praise on this well respected model. You truly can’t go wrong with a Porsche Macan.

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Story credit: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credit: Karen Tuggay

Date Posted: April 9, 2019