The future is electric, even for Porsche. The Macan will be one of the first vehicles from the brand to go electric; the next generation will be a fully electric series rolling out at the start of the next decade. After driving a preproduction Taycan, we’re not worried about a new model losing its Porsche DNA to electrification. But as much as we enjoy electric car performance, we love this car’s sonorous turbo-six.
Unlike most SUVs, which make compromises in ride and handling, the Macan’s biggest strength is performance. Accurate steering makes life easier, and corners come easy despite the 4,338-pound curb weight. Paired with the optional adaptive air suspension, our Macan S tester glides over uneven surfaces. Even though it sits on large 21-inch wheels, it shields the cabin from road imperfections, smoothing out dips and bumps you’ll find on everyday roads. Not overly firm, it almost calls to mind the buttery smooth ride of the Panamera.
The 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 is equally competent. Packing 348 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, it rockets to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. That’s slightly quicker than a 2018 BMW X3 M40i we tested in 4.8 seconds, as well as a 2018 Audi SQ5 Prestige that hit the mark in 5.0 seconds. Bear in mind these engines have slightly more power and torque than the Macan S. All proved much quicker than a supercharged 2018 Range Rover Velar P380 R-Dynamic SE we tested, which took 5.7 seconds to reach 60 mph.
There’s a certain deliberateness to the Macan S, from its precise steering and smooth seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to its steady braking that exhibits little dive. We managed to stop from 60 mph to a standstill in 107 feet. Compare that to the X3 and SQ5’s 112 feet and the Velar’s 124 feet. Our test team praised the consistent performance from the Porsche’s brakes through multiple runs.
None of the aforementioned competitors could match Porsche in the figure eight, where the mighty Macan achieved a time of 24.8 seconds at an average 0.75 g. Instead, the BMW rounded the bends in 25.9 seconds at 0.72 g while the SQ5 managed 25.7 seconds at 0.73 g. The Velar moseyed through the course in 26.2 seconds at 0.70 g. Testing director Kim Reynolds had good things to say about the figure-eight experience, calling it “sublime, as are all Porsches,” adding that “even this one, albeit with an S in its badge, blends all its dynamics brilliantly.”
The BMW came closer to the Macan in the quarter mile. The Porsche’s time of 13.2 seconds at 103.1 mph wasn’t that far off the BMW’s 13.4 seconds at 103.7 mph or the Audi’s 13.5 seconds at 101.8 mph. The Velar lagged behind a whole second from the Macan, topping out at 97.7 mph.
The Macan S exhibits razor-sharp precision in the city, on the highway, and on the track, but not as much in the parking lot. At very low speeds, the steering becomes heavy and stiff to an uncomfortable point, and you really have to press on the accelerator to get it going. It almost feels like you forgot to disengage the parking brake.
In areas other than performance, the Macan S doesn’t lead the pack. Inside the cabin, you’ll find comfortable leather seats and a responsive touchscreen, but many parts of the dash feel hard and less than premium in our $74,650 tester. If you prefer to use physical buttons instead of a touchscreen as much as possible, you’ll enjoy the button-happy center console. Unfortunately, this setup leaves virtually no space for storing small items. The view from the rearview camera isn’t as clear as we would like, either. Although Apple CarPlay is available, Android Auto is not. Other than this inconvenience, you can get most options you want, but for a price: A base Macan S won’t afford you keyless entry or ignition, nor does it have Apple CarPlay or heated or ventilated seats. One more gripe: Many adults will find the rear seats a bit cramped. If it’s interior luxury and tech you’re after, I’d say take a good look at the SQ5.
In exchange for strong performance, the Macan S takes a hit when it comes to fuel economy. The most recent BMW X3 M40i tops out at 21/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined, the Macan S only manages 18/23/20 mpg. That’s slightly worse than the SQ5’s 19/24/21 mpg and the Velar’s 18/24/20 mpg.
The Macan was Porsche’s best-selling vehicle last year in the U.S.—and by a large margin. With 23,504 units sold, it was more than twice as popular as the Cayenne, the brand’s second best-seller. In today’s crossover-obsessed market, it may not be the most well-rounded compact luxury SUV, but it excels in what it came to do: perform like a Porsche. For even sharper performance, Porsche is rolling out an updated Macan Turbo with 434 hp. Relish it while you can.
|2019 Porsche Macan S|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$74,650|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.0L/348-hp/354-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,338 lb (56/44%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||184.3 x 76.1 x 63.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.6 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.2 sec @ 103.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||107 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.94 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.8 sec @ 0.75 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/23/20 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||187/147 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.97 lb/mile|
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