Willem van de Putte
Cape Town - With 600 000 units sold since its introduction in 2014, the Porsche Macan is also 80% of owners’ gateway to the famous performance marque. As Porsche’s “baby” sports SUV, you get the comfort of a bigger car and all the hype around being a Porsche owner.
And with the launch of the upgraded Porsche Macan III, that trend is likely to continue because it now sets the benchmark for the segment.
And that’s across all variants, from the entry level Macan to the Macan S, and the range-topping Macan GTS.
Porsche has tweaked the suspension, giving better driver feedback, with the damper characteristics of the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) re-adapted, while it actively and continuously regulates the damping force for each individual wheel. PASM is available as an option for the Macan and is standard for the S and GTS models.
The air sport suspension has been lowered by 10mm and is now 10% firmer in front and 15% more rigid at the back over the outgoing model.
They’ve also redesigned the nose, giving it a more aggressive look with the centre of the nose section and other elements on the top-spec GTS finished in black. At the back, a new 3D structure diffuser finishes it off.
The LED headlights with the Porsche Dynamic Light System and Sport Design exterior mirrors are now standard across the range.
The interior too has been tweaked and there’s no doubting the Porsche heritage. It has a new operating concept, that uses touch surfaces rather than tactile buttons, with a shorter selector lever – which we jokingly said wasn’t such a great upgrade because now there wasn’t a place to hang your mask in these Covid times.
The analogue clock at the top of the dashboard, that’s now standard, adds a reassuring touch to the interior, as does the analogue rev counter facing the driver.
The 10.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use and sets up, without a hitch, to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Under the bonnet, there are three engine variants. The base Porsche Macan is fitted with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbopetrol engine, that produces 195kW and 400Nm, the Macan S with a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo that’s good for 280kW and 520Nm, and the Macan GTS with the same 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo engine – that’s been tweaked to 324kW and 550Nm.
They are all coupled to the sublime seven-speed Porsche dual-clutch transmission (PDK), that drives all four wheels through the Porsche Traction Management system.
We got to drive all three variations and, while the Macan is very much an SUV, it’s also very much still a Porsche.
The interior, driving position and GT Sport steering wheel gives the driver a sense of occasion.
We sampled the Macan first and while it may “only” be a four pod, there’s enough get up and go to quickly pick up speed, without much fuss. The suspension changes are apparent, especially around corners, with virtually no body roll – providing a real Porsche experience, even as an entry level version.
Next up, we slid in behind the wheel of the Macan S with its V6 twin-turbo. The combination of the engine and PDK transmission borders on flawless. Whether you stomp on the accelerator or set the cruise control to the national speed limit, there’s no drama at all. Keeping in mind it’s an SUV, the ride quality is sublime, and heading in and out of corners at speed seems to be its forte. The S is perfectly understated, both in appearance and performance, unlike its GTS sibling.
While the Macan and the S are a gentle pop song the GTS is AC/DC – belting out a rock anthem at full tilt.
It wears the GTS moniker with pride, with a magnificent soundtrack from the tailpipes that brings a smile to your face every time you push the accelerator or lift off to hear the snap, crackle and pop.
It will get you to 100km/h from standstill in 4.3 seconds and, fitted with the Sport Chrono package, it will even out at 272km/h. If driven hard it can be brutal but, like the Macan and the S, feedback to the driver makes things a pleasure and, even at speed, it behaves well and seems to be totally in control.
It’s loud and in your face, like the black sheep of the family, but everyone wants a piece of it.
The Porsche SUV programme is what allows the company to fund and build insane sports cars and that, in turn, gives it an opportunity to cross pollinate to the big bodies like the Macan – and that can only be a good thing.
The Porsche Macan III, as the mainstay of the brand, fully deserves its place in the Porsche parking lot and, while all three have their own unique characteristics, I reckon the one to get is the Macan S that provides enough excitement and driving pleasure behind the wheel of a Porsche.