It’s goodbye to diesel as Stuttgart’s acclaimed sporting SUV gets a makeover for 2019, writes Gareth Herincx
When the Porsche Macan was launched in 2014 it set a new benchmark for SUV driving dynamics. Quite simply, here was a 4×4 that drove like a hot hatch.
A lot has happened since then, and even Porsche’s acclaimed best-seller can’t rest on its laurels. Major rivals including the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Jaguar F-Pace have recently arrived on the scene, so for 2019 the Macan gets a refresh.
Frankly, you may not even notice any difference from the outside. The easiest way is to look at the rear where there’s now a full-width lightbar, which apes the look of its siblings, the new 911, Panamera and Cayenne.
At the front, the Macan has been subtly redesigned to make it appear wider, and it’s equipped with LED headlights as standard.
The interior facelift is more obvious. The most striking change is the new 10.9-inch infotainment touchscreen (up from 7.2 inches) dominating the centre console, along with the re-positioned air vents and the GT sports steering wheel familiar from the 911. Ahead of the driver, there’s a three-dial instrument cluster with the analogue tachometer in the centre, speedometer to the left and a customisable digital display on the right.
The big new touchscreen means there are fewer buttons below, but by modern standards there are still a lot.
Up front the cabin is spacious and comfortable, while the driving position is suitably commanding, There’s enough space for adults behind, though taller passengers may find it slightly challenging – the price that has to be paid for that coupe-like roofline. The boot’s luggage capacity is a generous 500 litres – 1,500 litres with the back seats flipped down – while every Macan can tow a braked trailer or caravan weighing up to 2,000kg.
As ever with a Porsche, the build quality – inside and out – is faultless.
The range of driver assistance systems has been extended. However, most are optional extras. So, lane departure warning is standard, but you’ll have to pay extra for the likes of Adaptive Cruise Control, front and rear Park Assist (including reversing camera), Lane Keep Assist and new Traffic Jam Assist which partially controls acceleration, braking and steering in slow-moving traffic.
Arguably the biggest change of all is under the bonnet where Porsche has accepted the demonisation of diesel and is now only offering the Macan range with petrol engines.
In the future the Macan will be electrified, but for now there’s a choice of a 242bhp 2.0-litre turbo (which is expected to be the biggest seller) and a 351bhp 3.0-litre V6. Both engines are paired with a slick seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox, while sportier versions of the new Macan are sure to follow.
Priced from £46,913 (though it’s easy to add another £10,000 with options), I tested the entry-level Macan powered by the 2.0-litre which is Porsche’s version of the unit found in other VW Group cars including the Volkswagen GTI and Audi TT.
Replacing the smooth, powerful V6 diesel with a four-cylinder petrol engine was always going to be a shock to the system. Don’t get me wrong, it goes well enough, but it’s not as refined and it has to be worked harder.
The standard Macan is capable of 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 141mph, so it’s no slouch – it’s just how it does it. The reality is that the engine is not as effortless thanks to those higher revs and it’s more raucous than you might expect if you put your foot down.
Fuel economy is a claimed 28.2mpg, though in the real world it’s closer to 20-25mpg, while CO2 emissions are 181-185g/km.
The good news is that the Macan still manages to handle like few other 4x4s. It may not be head and shoulders above the opposition now, but it’s still mightily impressive.
The steering is nicely weighted and communicative, it feels agile and composed, while body control is simply outstanding. Top marks too for overall grip and traction – even in the damp.
We’d recommend adding the optional Sports Chrono package, which adds a dinky dial to the steering wheel, enabling you to switch easily between Normal, Sport and Sport Plus drive modes, along with a driver-configurable Individual mode. At the centre of the dial is a new Sport Response button, which gives a 20-second burst of the Macan’s most aggressive engine and transmission settings (great for overtaking).
Naturally, the Macan is surprisingly capable off-road too – just not in a hardcore Land Rover way. That said, it can more than handle itself when the going gets tough on those few days of the year when we’re hit by extreme weather.
So, Porsche has done just enough to keep the Macan competitive, but the gap is tighter than ever before. If money’s no object, go for the V6 petrol, which is a peach of an engine and better suited to the Macan’s sophisticated, sporting character – otherwise, the entry-level model will do just fine thanks.
Gareth Herincx writes for Spear’s