The luxury marque roars back with the Porsche Macan Turbo, a stylish pocket rocket that sets new standards for ‘baby’ off-roaders, writes Tiff Needell
A year ago I questioned Porsche’s habit of giving new models names rather than numbers when I reviewed its latest little alligator, the Cayman S. But recently I thought Porsche had really lost the plot when it sounded as if its new compact SUV had been named after the citizens of Sunderland.
Of course it hadn’t, as the car is a Macan, not a Mackem. In any case, it should be pronounced ‘Macaan’ – derived, so Porsche says, from the Indonesian word for tiger. The Porsche Macan Turbo is its answer to the comfort and style of the Range Rover Evoque and the sportiness of BMW’s X3.
The model has been launched with three engine options, one diesel and two petrol, with the entry-level pairing priced at £43,300. If that’s your budget then you’ll need to decide whether your priority is to save about £500 a year on fuel bills by choosing the 3.0 litre diesel or reach 62mph nearly a second faster with the 3.0 litre petrol.
With Porsche now owned by Volkswagen Group – joining the likes of Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT and Skoda under the VW umbrella – it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that the Porsche Macan Turbo is based on the Audi Q5, which provides a ready-made, four-wheel-drive platform. But while it shares the Audi’s lightweight aluminium frame, the interior, suspension, transmission and engines are all very much Porsche parts and that has a dramatic effect on the dynamics of this baby SUV.
With power heading to the rear axle first, the 400 horsepower from the turbo is primarily spread across the rear wheels by Porsche’s own torque vectoring system, which maximises traction and sends power to the front wheels only when it’s needed. With extra help from Porsche’s new traction management system (PTM) and its PASM active suspension, the result is a baby SUV that handles like a sports car.
The interior is classic Porsche. Chunky, solid switchgear laid out in a simple, practical style – no unnecessary frills or gadgets but quality throughout. No one does steering wheels better than Porsche and the once much-criticised dual-clutch PDK transmission effortlessly pops from gear to gear.
With plenty of room for seat adjustment, you can choose to take the off-roader’s command position as high as possible or hunker down closer to the floor for a sporty feel. If you want more comfort on the road and better performance off it, there’s the £1,700 option of air suspension to consider but, whatever you decide, the Porsche Macan Turbo corners with little of the body-roll associated with most SUVs.
There’s a strong, stylish heritage look, especially with the aggressive front-end treatment and, while it might not be quite as elegant as the Evoque, the higher roofline of the Porsche Macan Turbo gives more space and a less claustrophobic feel for rear-seat passengers. Good boot space and a must-have electronic tailgate add a practical touch to this little pocket rocket.
Whether you want to be frugal or have fun, this new tiger ticks all the boxes. Well priced and with cleaner, greener hybrid versions sure to follow, it sets new standards for ‘baby’ off-roaders. The only problem is that the Porsche Macan Turbo has been such an instant success there’s already a long waiting list.