Cape Town - SUVs make up a very large percentage of global vehicle sales and apart from a handful of manufacturers they all have them in their stable.
And in the premium market Porsche is no different to any of its competitors with the Macan and its larger sibling the Cayenne leading their sales tables.
In fact, since the Macan was introduced in 2014, the German carmaker has sold 400 000 of them and it’s easy to see why the compact SUV is so popular.
It has now been comprehensively upgraded both inside and out and the result is a vehicle that fits the market perfectly and is a well-priced entry vehicle to become part of the Porsche clan. And let’s face it, when you hand in a key to open a tab and it has the Porsche logo, people tend to look at you differently than what they would if it was any “normal” run of the mill key.
It was introduced to the South African market last week and no doubt it will continue to be a good seller. There are two engine options.
The Macan S is equipped with a newly developed 3.0 litre turbo-charged V6 with 260kW and 480Nm, which is 10kW more than the previous model. It’s good enough to get to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds (keep in mind this is an SUV) and with the Sport Chrono package top speed is 254km/h.
The one we drove was the 2.0 litre turbo-charged Macan, which is also Porsche’s first foray with a four cylinder power unit. It may be a bit odd to see a Porsche with anything less than a V6 but the 180kW and 370Nm of torque is enough to hustle it along nicely, with a pleasant exhaust burble in sport mode. Porsche claim a respectable 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 225km/h, testimony to Porsche engineers’ magic sprinkle dust.
From the front the Macan still has the wraparound bonnet but the LED headlights have been redesigned and are an integral feature of the front end design.
The rear end gets an all new look with the three part, three dimensional LED light panel connecting the tail light clusters with each other, and if there was any doubt about what you were driving the Porsche logo is positioned on the light panel.
Slipping in behind the wheel it’s unmistakably Porsche. The characteristic centre console with switches and control buttons that are easy to reach and operate while driving and there’s a new 10.9 inch HD touchscreen with fewer buttons with Porsche’s communication management. It has permanent access to internet-based functions and services and can also be personalised according to your needs and more connectivity options than you can shake an Apple or Android device at.
Quality fabrics and stitching abound with seat surfaces covered in Alcantara and seat bolsters with leatherette. The chunky steering wheel, selector lever and armrests are covered in leather. Full leather in various colours are optional.
Driving dynamics are, as my partner for the day described “pure Porsche” thanks largely to superb engineering, the dual-clutch transmission and a chassis that combines hard driving and ease of everyday use brilliantly. The front axle spring forks have been replaced by aluminium making it lighter and the steering even more precise.
With wheel diameters ranging from 18-21 inches and mixed tyre sizes the “pure Porsche” drive comes very much in to its own as we found driving in a mixture of town and pass driving in and around Cape Town. In normal driving mode negotiating the Cape’s traffic, the Macan is very much an every day car and would suit the school and work commute perfectly but when it’s time to toggle it to sport and everything becomes a little tighter and more responsive, it’s all Porsche.
Because it’s harvesting season, the usual free flowing Franschhoek Pass was cluttered with trucks lumbering up and down but who’s complaining if it ends up in a finely crafted bottle of wine. It did however give us an opportunity to test the Macan’s passing ability. It’s sprightly to be sure and even though you’re probably wanting those extra two cylinders for that extra grunt, with deft paddle gear changes and good timing it’s easy enough.
Where we did go in to corners and bends it sits on rails and even close to the limit with slight tyre squeal at no stage did you feel that things would end up out of control. It’s no slouch either and quickly picks up speed easily enough for you to be caught in a speed trap that could see you having to talk yourself out of a tricky situation.
In the unlikely event that things get out of hand, as a premium Porsche SUV, driver aids and safety technology abound as you would expect.
Even if you’re not a Porsche fan, do yourself a favour if you’re in the market for an SUV and make a stop at a dealer. I’m pretty sure it may change your mind and if not, at least the coffee is superb and the metal eye candy is a sight to behold.