The verdict: The 2016 Porsche Macan S SUV is the apple that doesn’t fall far from the tree in Porsche’s repertoire, delivering a high-performance driving experience in an unlikely shape.
Versus the competition: You can spend similar money on larger SUVs, but they can’t rival the 2016 Porsche Macan’s combination of athletic twin-turbo driving experience and luxuriously appointed interior.
Porsche has been more than just a “car” maker for years, since the introduction of its wildly popular Cayenne midsize SUV. The compact Macan is a smaller, more affordable SUV introduced to the Porsche lineup for 2015.
Smaller doesn’t mean cheap, though, and the Porsche Macan doesn’t exactly have an apples-to-apples competitor, which makes it an interesting little SUV. The 340-horsepower Macan S starts at $53,595 including destination — a hefty sum compared to the similarly sized BMW X4 and Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, which are as much as $11,125 less expensive. A 400-hp Macan Turbo starts at $74,895, and the well-equipped-but-not-loaded Porsche Macan S I tested totaled $69,455 — closer to the cost of midsize coupe-inspired SUVs such as the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe.
Exterior & Styling
The Macan’s resemblance to Porsche’s sports cars helps its curb appeal. The rear is wide and curvy, like the 911, and its headlight styling is borrowed from the Porsche 918 hybrid supercar. The tires are staggered in width, with wider rubber in back giving the Macan a poised stance — as well as handling that’s more similar to a sports car than a family SUV. The optional RS Spyder wheels ($1,650) on our Macan S measured 20 inches and wore Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires sized 265/45R20 up front and a sports-coupe-like 295/40R20 in back.
How It Drives
Just because only one Porsche Macan is called “Turbo” doesn’t mean the others aren’t turbocharged. Under the hood of a Porsche Macan S is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 340 hp, mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The engine is extremely well-mannered for a turbo engine, with power delivery so finely tuned and linear that most people won’t be able to tell the difference between it and a high-horsepower, naturally aspirated V-6.
Acceleration is quick in the S, but not pin-you-to-your-seat fast; if that’s what you’re looking for, check out the 400-hp Macan Turbo. Still, Porsche’s signature exhaust symphony burbles through the tailpipes and sounds strikingly similar to any one of Porsche’s coupes. The standard exhaust system adjusts to deliver a more noticeable growl during higher engine loads and in Sport mode.
Not all’s good in the neighborhood: There’s a slight lag in initial accelerator response when accelerating from a stop, even in Sport mode. The delay isn’t very Porsche-like, and it’s annoying when you want to move from a stop with vigor. One area in which there isn’t much delay is the seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission’s shifts. This Porsche Doppelkupplung transmission shifts unbelievably quickly, with 911-like levels of shifting action in automatic mode and from the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
The Porsche Macan S blends sharp handling and respectable ride quality, similar to the 911. The excellent road feel transmitted through the steering wheel, along with the balanced handling, provide a level of confidence that’s fitting for Porsche and far superior to even the sportiest X4 xDrive35i M Sport. It’s also nimble and more composed than a larger X6. Compare the Macan with the BMW and Land Rover Range Rover Evoque here.
Given the Macan’s size, its EPA-estimated gas mileage is unimpressive at 17/23/19 mpg city/highway/combined. That’s closer to the larger BMW X6 xDrive35i (18/24/20 mpg) and GLE450 AMG Coupe (17/23/20 mpg) than it is to the X4’s 19/27/22 mpg and the Evoque’s 21/30/24 mpg.
The Macan’s sport-tuned suspension is never uncomfortable like the rough-riding BMW, though I wouldn’t call the Macan “comfortable”; our test car had standard coil springs and fixed-firmness shock absorbers. But a slightly busy ride at highway speeds is a completely fair tradeoff for how well the Macan handles, and a little body motion in aggressive cornering doesn’t take away too much from its dynamic personality. Adaptive shock absorbers with coil springs and an air suspension are options if you want to improve ride/handling characteristics.
In typical Porsche fashion, you can add another $16,000 in performance options to the Macan S if you want, including carbon-ceramic brakes, the aforementioned upgraded suspensions, a torque-vectoring function for enhanced cornering rotation, sport exhaust and more.
Standard Interior styling is purely performance-minded. Our test car was equipped with optional red and black leather seats, red accent stitching and aluminum accents. Porsche’s signature center-mounted tachometer has a huge presence over any other gauge; it’s a testament to the Porsche Macan’s driver-oriented nature.
Interior quality is top-notch for a “baby” Porsche SUV, and our test car was filled with $12,000 of convenience and media options, including blind spot monitoring, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled seats, heated rear seats, a panoramic moonroof, navigation and a Bose stereo. About that heated steering wheel: The on/off button is hidden behind the wheel, in the bottom spoke. It’s nearly impossible to find without consulting the owner’s manual or getting a pointer from someone in the know.
Brightly colored red sport seats hug your sides like good all-purpose sport seats should, with supportive bolstering and enough lower-back padding to make long drives doable. With how little room they have, backseat passengers may not be as happy to spend long drives in the Macan. There’s a big hump in the middle of the floor, and the panoramic roof cuts headroom. At 6 feet tall, I felt shoehorned into the backseat. There’s significantly more room in the larger X6 and GLE450 AMG, which you can compare with the Macan here.
Ergonomics & Electronics
Another signature Porsche interior characteristic is a massive center console littered with buttons — not only for typical controls such as Sport mode or heated seats, but also independent buttons for each available airflow direction for the climate system. Sure, why not? It’s actually not a bad setup. I acclimated to the layout quickly and appreciated having buttons at my fingertips for functions that are normally hidden within layers upon layers of touch-screen menus.
The Porsche Macan’s standard multimedia system features a 7-inch touch-screen and 70-plus physical buttons that litter the interior. Navigation is optional; it’s cryptically called Porsche Communication Management and comes in the $2,990 Infotainment Package. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available on the 2016 Macan, but CarPlay will debut on the 2017 Macan GTS. Other options include just about everything under the sun — including a fire extinguisher and two optional stereos. The standard 11-speaker stereo features a USB input with iPod connectivity. It’s replaceable with a 14-speaker Bose stereo for $1,400 or an even higher-end, 16-speaker Burmester system for $5,690. The mid-level Bose is decent enough but doesn’t stand out in any particular way for its hefty price.
Cargo & Storage
The small-interior theme continues in cargo and storage space. A center console overrun with buttons doesn’t leave room for extra storage, and there are just two cupholders and a small, square-shaped, shallow storage bin under the center armrest. The BMW X4 and X6 at least provide a nifty sliding cover over their cupholders to store loose items, and the GLE-Class coupe has a separate cubby area for phones and other items.
Luggage space behind the Porsche Macan’s 40/20/40-split folding backseat is a small 17.7 cubic feet that’s deep but narrow, and the aggressively sloped roofline doesn’t provide much room for taller objects. Cargo space is more similar to a Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class (17.2 cubic feet) or BMW X4 (17.7 cubic feet) than to the roomier X6 (26.6 cubic feet) or GLE-Class coupe (23 cubic feet).
The Porsche Macan had not been crash-tested as of publication. Available safety systems include blind spot monitoring, called Lane Change Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist, which automatically nudges the vehicle after it veers from a lane. A backup camera is also optional and comes with front and rear parking sensors. Also cryptically named, Porsche Active Safe is the Macan’s forward collision warning system with autonomous braking. It pairs with adaptive cruise control for $1,440. See all the Macan’s safety features here, and check out how well child-safety seats fit in the Macan in the Car Seat Check.
Value in Its Class
The Porsche Macan’s combination of small size, high price, sports-car-like handling and luxurious interior make it a genuinely unique compact luxury SUV. The bulk of Macans in Cars.com’s national inventory are more expensive than similarly sized X4s or Evoques. The X4 xDrive35i with a 300-hp, turbocharged six-cylinder starts at $50,695, and an entry-level Evoque SE is $42,470. At that price, though, you get only 240 hp, making it far less of a performance buy.
The Macan S starts at $53,595, though most in our inventory are between $65,000 and $70,000, while most X4s and Evoques list closer to $50,000 to $55,000. Shoppers may see larger coupe-inspired luxury SUVs, like the midsize BMW X6 (starts at $61,595) or Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe ($66,025) as closer competitors, considering the cost to get into one is closer to what it will likely take to buy a Macan.
The Porsche Macan S is at a size disadvantage compared with the GLE450 and the X6 in terms of both cargo space and backseat room, but it manages to not feel overpriced for its small size. The as-tested cost of the Macan S we drove, $69,455, wasn’t offensive given its impressive quality, performance and distinctive Porsche flair. Year-end sales placed the Porsche Macan as the No. 2 best-selling model in Porsche’s lineup for 2015, behind the Cayenne SUV. We will see what 2017 brings with the added Macan GTS.