Porsche Macan Turbo Details:
- 400hp 3.6L VarioCam Plus direct injection biturbo V6 engine
- Torque-vectoring option | Porsche Traction Management active AWD
- Sports car dynamics | Searing performance | Sport Chrono improves 0-62mph by 0.2sec
- Slick PDK dual-clutch auto | PASM active suspension | Remarkable comfort
Electronics: Sport Plus with Sport Chrono | Porsche Communication Management | 4.8" color display in instrument cluster
+ Pros: Sensational drive | Impeccable quality | Remarkable refinement | Game-changing dynamics
- Cons: Rear seats a little cramped | No manual option | Subdued exhaust note
Porsche's Leipzig factory in Germany is busy building the Panamera and Cayenne. But it's about to get much busier with the addition of the new Macan SUV. It's expected that up to 600 cars will roll out of its doors each day and onto the on-site test track.
The same track was used for the international launch of the Macan SUV. It's an impeccably neat circuit, borrowing from motorsport by mimicking legendary curves such as Monza's Lesmo and Laguna Seca's Corkscrew, but all within the limitations of Leipzig's rather flat topography. But if Porsche wants a hill, it'll make a hill. The company's can-do approach evidently isn't limited to its cars.
Approaching the uphill section before the mini Corkscrew, the Macan Turbo arrives at indecent speed before its tires screech under braking and turn-in. Up the hill the SUV goes, and is gone as soon as it arrived. Walter Rohrl is here, and he's demonstrating the Macan Turbo is indeed worthy of the Porsche crest on the hood.
There were doubters, of course, particularly since elements of the Macan structure are borrowed from the Audi Q5. However, Porsche is quick to point out that at least two-thirds is unique, and most shared parts were modified.
Visually it couldn't be more different; unlike the Cayenne SUV, which for all its Porsche genes, isn't as distinct from its Volkswagen Touareg cousin as they'd like.
Porsche's typical styling elements are obvious: the rigorous adherence to large air intakes, fender-top headlamps, sculpted hood and wide rear haunches. These elements certainly look more cohesive on the Macan than Cayenne.
The "Turbo" model is signified from the lesser "S" by the addition of LED strips on the outermost air intakes that have wider mesh grilles. There's also "Turbo" script on the trunk and quad exhausts in the diffuser. These subtle but effective changes give the Turbo a more assertive look to match its range-topping performance.
Inside, it's very familiar. The cabin demonstrates Porsche's long-held thinking on ergonomics and design. So it has three circular instruments behind the wheel, dominated by the rev counter, while the center console and transmission tunnel take care of the infotainment and lesser controls.
The rear seats can be described as adequate for adults rather than commodious, while the trunk is a respectable SUV size.
The Turbo receives a better standard equipment list, with more leather, higher-spec audio and Porsche's PCCM communication management (incorporating sat nav) as standard.
The Turbo badges could actually be applied to all models, but only the 3.6-liter biturbo's performance is deemed worthy of the legendary status. Its engine is increased in capacity over the 3.0-liter in the S. Output naturally rises from 340hp to a more satisfying 400hp. Torque swells to 406 lb-ft, and the twist is distributed by Porsche's seven-speed PDK paddle-shifted dual-clutch automatic to the Porsche Traction Management four-wheel drive system.
Use all the technology and the Macan Turbo will reach 60mph in 4.6sec from a standstill. Tick the Sport Chrono Pack option and you'll gain a Sport Plus button (in addition to the standard Sport button) that allows 0-60mph in an impressive 4.4sec.
Pressing the Sport Plus button alters the intervention thresholds of the Turbo's numerous drive systems, delivering more aggressive gear shifts, sharper throttle response and a tighter PASM active suspension. If you've optioned Air Suspension, the Macan Turbo will lower itself 10mm, too.
Around the Leipzig test track, still wet from a morning rain shower and heavily rubbered thanks to Porsche's continuous testing, the Turbo provides an hilariously quick and remarkably responsive driving experience. The Turbo's eagerness to wag its tail on exiting a corner, for example, is remarkable for a vehicle in this segment.
From the passenger seat alongside Rohrl, he admitted the vehicle is best experienced with the Porsche Stability Management on, admitting that, even if you switch it off, it remains in the shadows to keep things in check. He also suggested the Macan will understeer less with it enabled, which was sufficient to convince us to leave it activated because the Turbo in Sport Plus mode can be driven with an application of corrective steering lock at will.
That experience is unusual, if not unique, in the SUV category. In fact, the Macan Turbo feels more like a well-sorted RWD station wagon than a tall SUV. That was particularly true on the track, where the Macan could be pushed to extremes. Even on the road, the rearward power bias was obvious but understeer is indeed rare, only occurring if you're wildly over-ambitious with your corner entry speed or too aggressive with steering inputs.
The steering itself has a great weight, while the wheel was "borrowed" from the 918 Spyder parts bin, no less. It has a beautiful shape and style that delivers a respectable amount of feel.
The steering is complemented by suspension that rides with remarkable composure and suppleness, despite its tight roll and pitch control. That's true whether you have the standard steel springs or optional air suspension provided you also get PASM.
Perhaps even more surprising than the Macan's dynamics is its refinement. Even when the V6 biturbo was asked to deliver everything, reaching its 165mph maximum on Germany's fantastic autobahns, there was very little engine or exhaust sound in the cabin. Road noise, even on all-season tires was virtually non-existent, and wind noise only becomes apparent deep into three-figure speeds. If anything, it's too quiet; a rousing exhaust soundtrack would certainly add to the Turbo's appeal.
Even Mr Rohrl, a man who's "sports car" to the core, conceded the Macan Turbo would be an excellent choice for a run to the ski slopes.
So with its remarkable performance, comfort and versatility, the Macan's existence should be celebrated, if only because its inevitable sales volume will allow Porsche to continue developing sports cars.
Despite our enthusiasm for the Turbo model, we concede that the S and S Diesel will account for most sales. And fortunately, these remain credible Porsche products. In fact, the entire model range has redefined what's possible in an SUV, both on the road and track. So who's now wondering what it would be like off-road...?
2015 Porsche Macan Turbo
3604cc V6 24v biturbo with VarioCam Plus and direct injection
seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission
six-piston monobloc calipers, 360mm rotors f, floating calipers, 356mm r, brake assistant
aluminum five-arm wishbones f, trapezoidal wishbones r
Wheels & Tires
19x8" f, 19x9" r wheels, 235/55 R19 f, 255/50 R19 r tires
400hp at 6000rpm
406 lb-ft at 1350-4500rpm
4.6sec (4.4sec with Sport Chrono)
$72300 (plus $995 D&D)