Porsche Macan SUV - Engines, drive & performance
The Porsche Macan is the most fun-to-drive car in its class
The way the Macan steers, turns and grips are very impressive for an SUV – its four-wheel-drive system is a valuable asset and ensures all its power can be deployed effectively, regardless of the conditions. Even after quite a few years on sale, it remains the benchmark in the SUV class in terms of driving pleasure. The suspension system has been brilliantly designed – and thoroughly updated for the facelifted Macan – the result being that even the entry-level 2.0-litre Porsche Macan is great fun to drive.
These include a fine-tuned suspension setup and tweaks to the steering that only serve to increase the Macan's precision and agility. Impressive, too, is the way the Macan somehow offers a ride quality that also ranks among the best in its class. Choosing air suspension means you can lower the Macan's ride height to make it even more composed through corners, although it is an expensive option.
The four-wheel-drive system, together with tough chassis components, make the Macan impressively capable off-road, too – although not quite as accomplished as its Range Rover Evoque rival.
Also present on every Macan is Porsche’s PDK twin-clutch automatic gearbox – a manual isn’t an option. This is no bad thing, though: the PDK shifts gears quickly and smoothly, always feeling in tune with your driving. Despite the Macan T getting no extra power, it does feature adaptive suspension, a drop in ride height of 15mm (25mm if optional air suspension is fitted) and stiffer anti-roll bars. These modifications along with its relatively light weight make it especially sweet to drive.
The smaller engine removes 59kg from the nose of the Macan, boosting agility even more, although most drivers will be hard-pressed to notice. We’ve also tried the Macan T with air suspension, and while this is worth the extra money if you cover lots of motorway miles, for most drivers the standard setup is ideal.
The GTS model benefits from Porsche’s PASM adaptive air suspension as standard. When these are set in Normal mode, the GTS glides serenely along. The PASM system also offers a variety of sport modes that let the Macan’s athletic nature come to the surface. The suspension can be firmed up, helping the car to stay on an even keel in corners – allowing it to carry more speed through bends than you would expect.
New steering for the 2021 Macan is also very good, giving the Macan's nose a level of precision and poise missing from every other rival. It's all part of the recipe that makes Porsche's small SUV feel like it has genuine sports car DNA, not just marketing hyperbole.
An active exhaust also gives the Macan an evocative engine sound to accompany its pace: by changing the route taken by exhaust gases, it lends the car an appealing, spirited howl.
Porsche Macan petrol engines
With no diesel engine offered since early 2018, the least expensive, most economical Porsche Macan is now powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that's used in a diverse range of Volkswagen Group cars, including the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Audi TT and Cupra Ateca, to name but a few. Up to now, you could request this engine in a Macan as a special order, but the majority opted for the diesel instead.
The 261bhp 2.0-litre actually does much to recommend itself, particularly because it weighs less than the bigger engines, and so the Macan feels even more nimble and agile with it under the bonnet. It also has more power for the facelift, with a 19bhp bump from before. It's certainly not slow, either, managing 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds. While the Macan T is no more powerful, it can cover ground even more quickly, thanks to its upgraded chassis. The main disadvantage of the T’s four-cylinder is its lack of character next to the V6, both in the way it sounds and its less exciting power delivery.
The GTS model returned to the range in early 2020, and before the latest facelift it was the quickest Macan in the range bar the Turbo model. With the Turbo now discontinued as part of the 2021 facelift, it has been given a promotion, and the 2.9-litre twin-turbo GTS now gets the same 434bhp as the old range-topper. This propels it from 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds when equipped with the optional Sport Chrono pack or 4.5 seconds in standard guise, and its top speed has increased to a mighty 169mph.
These lightning sprint times are helped by the seven-speed PDK gearbox, which boasts tweaked software that makes gearchanges even quicker in Sport+ mode, and smoother in Normal mode. Acceleration is accompanied by a tuneful sound from the six-cylinder engine that's more exciting than even the more expensive and faster Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio or BMW X3 M can muster.
In the middle of the range, there’s the Macan S, which uses a detuned version of the 2.9-litre V6 to provide a still-impressive 375bhp. Its performance reflects its positioning in the Macan line-up, managing 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 161mph. For most drivers, this is likely to make even more sense than the Macan T, especially considering it only costs around £1,000 more.