The Porsche Macan is everywhere.
Porsche knows it’s onto a good thing. After launching the car in 2014, the brand gave it a mid-life update in 2019, before another styling and equipment refresh in 2021 to keep things fresh in the face of strong competition.
What’s new? Along with the styling, which has been massaged to bring it into line with the latest Porsche range, the car has a range of more powerful engines, more modern cabin technology, and a longer list of standard equipment.
Although it’s technically an updated version, the Macan GTS on test here is a long way removed from the first Macan GTS introduced in 2016. It’s down 100cc, but up 49kW and 50Nm. It competes with a stronger than ever pool of rivals.
Has Porsche evolved its smallest SUV fast enough to keep up with the crowd?
Pricing for the Macan range kicks of at $90,100 after a recent price hike. The GTS on test here was hit with an $8300 increase, taking its list price to $138,100 before on-roads.
Being a Porsche, there’s also options to consider. Our tester was fitted with $23,380 worth of options, for an as-tested price of $161,480 before on-road costs.
The Macan was given an interior refresh with its most recent update. Although the architecture of the cabin is largely the same, the dizzying array of black buttons lining the transmission tunnel has been replaced with a version of the glossy flight deck from the 911, Panamera, and Cayenne.
Gone is the old automatic shifter (which was prone to clunking from Park to Reverse), and in its place is a new unit that’s smoother to use but feels a bit plasticky in your hand.
The fundamentals in the Macan are excellent. The driving position is spot on, the wheel is the perfect size and shape, and the seats themselves offer a perfect blend of bolstering and support. The cold metal gearshift paddles and click-clack Drive Mode dial on the wheel are pure class.
With a simple, three-dial instrument binnacle (lifted from the 718 Cayman) instead of the dual-screen cluster from the 911, Cayenne, and Taycan, the Macan has a bit of an old-fashioned feel that will be immediately identifiable to Porsche fans from way back.
What it lacks in customisability, it makes up for in clarity. Although you can do more with the dials from the 911, the simple digital speedo and colour trip computer screen on the right-hand side are easy to read on the fly, and can still be set up to show you a map or all the car’s vital signs.
The central infotainment screen has been lifted straight from the latest Porsche models. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the tiles on the home screen, and laying out everything you want isn’t the work of a moment, but with time comes familiarity.
It’s easy to jump around the system using the touch-based shortcuts at the base of the dashboard, too. Speaking of which, the sheer number of buttons on the gloss black transmission tunnel is eye-opening at first, and the amount of fingerprints they attract will drive clean freaks mad.
Like the infotainment system, it takes time to learn where everything is… but once again with time, it’s easy to find what you need with minimal eyes-off-road time. The fingerprints on our tester were strongest on the exhaust button, which tells you all you need to know about what we were pressing.
There’s plenty of storage up front, from the dual cupholders and decent underarm storage bin to the bottle-friendly door pockets. The little slot behind the e-parking brake is perfect for garage keys and coins, provided you’re happy to have them on show.
Rear seat space has always been a weak point in the Macan relative to its mid-sized SUV rivals, and that remains the case in 2022. Legroom is tight behind taller drivers, and headroom is poor relative to what’s on offer in smaller options like the related Audi Q5, let alone the class-leading BMW X3.
With air vents, a fold-down central armrest, and decent-sized windows it’s fine back there for children or small adults, but ultimately this is a mid-sized crossover aimed at people for whom practicality is less of a concern.
The claimed 453 litres of boot space in the GTS will give you space for a golf bag or a week’s shopping, but the sloping tailgate and higher floor mean this is less capable of hauling bikes or furniture than some of its rivals. With the rear seats folded you still get an impressive 1468L, however.
Power in the Porsche Macan GTS comes from the a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 with 324kW and 550Nm, sent to all four wheels through a seven-speed PDK transmission.
Claimed fuel economy is 10.3 litres per 100km, and the 75L fuel tank needs to be filled with 98 RON premium unleaded petrol.
The 100km/h sprint flies by in a claimed 4.3 seconds.
The Macan fires with a flourish and settles into a hard-edged Porsche idle. It feels special from the second you turn it on, but doesn’t feel contrived.
With bags of torque and a version of Porsche’s exceptional PDK dual-clutch transmission shuffling thorough the ratios, the Macan is effortless to pilot around town.
The steering on the 2022 model is lighter than I remember of the original at low speeds, making it simple to thread through tight carparks, and the widescreen surround-view cameras mean there’s no excuses for scraped bumpers or wheels. Although its compact dimensions hurt rear-seat and boot space, the Macan is a great size for the city.
On air suspension, the ride is very city-friendly. It has a long-travel feeling over speed bumps, and expansion joints float beneath the 21-inch alloy wheels without ruining the serenity.
As for when you’re not commuting? The Macan GTS feels like a really polished, really expensive hot hatch.
There are three suspension modes to flick through, the exhaust can be cranked up to deliver more noise, and the PDK can set up to hold gears right to the redline, transforming the car’s character. You can pick-and-mix using the buttons on the transmission tunnel, or flick through the drive modes using the dial on the wheel.
If that’s too complex, pressing the Sport Response button in the middle of the dial turns the car into its angriest mode for 20 seconds.
In its sportiest setup, the Macan is an angry little bastard of a thing. The engine rips through the mid-range with a hard-edged bark, and will run right to the redline before the PDK grabs another gear, the exhaust lets out a vicious crack, and the cycle repeats.
The transmission is lightning quick in Sport or Sport Plus, snapping through upshifts in an eye-blink and confidently downshifting when you lean hard on the silicon carbide brakes.
Not only are they designed to provide more stopping power than conventional steel units, they produce less brake dust to keep your matte black wheels looking fresher for longer. They pull up the near two-tonne Macan without a hitch, even when you’re hustling hard.
The steering is nicely weighted in Sport Mode, and the front end bites better than it has any real right to in a high-riding SUV. With the air suspension stiffened up body roll is kept neatly in check, and when you’re on the power it feels beautifully balanced.
This isn’t a 911, but the control weights and responses all have a distinctly Porsche-y feel about them. It’s clearly a part of the same family tree, although its priorities are slightly different.
- 10.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay
- Satellite navigation
- Eight-speaker sound system with amplifier
- DAB+ digital radio
- 2 x USB-C in front centre console
- 2 x USB-A charging ports in rear centre console
- 14-way power Comfort front seats with memory
- Privacy glass
- Keyless entry and start
- Automatic LED headlights
- 19-inch alloy wheels
Macan T adds:
- 15mm lower suspension
- Electronic adaptive dampers
- Agate Grey Metallic exterior design elements
- Quad exhaust outlets
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors
- Exclusive upholstery with black leather, embossed Porsche crests on headrest
- Heated, eight-way power adjustable front sport seats
- Memory for driver’s seat
- Heated sports steering wheel
- Black aluminium door sills with Macan T logo
Macan S adds:
- 14-speaker Bose sound system
- Three-zone climate control
- Body-coloured front apron
- SportDesign side skirts, side blades, rear bumper
Macan GTS adds:
- Sport Chrono package
- Air suspension including 10mm lower ride
- 21-inch wheels with colour Porsche crest
- Black exterior trim highlights
- Sports exhaust (four outlets, black)
- Tinted LED tail lights
- Front seat heating
The following options were fitted to our tester:
- GTS Interior Package in Carmine Red: $7220
- Carmine Red exterior paint: $4480
- GTS exterior side blades: $2230
- Tinted LED headlights: $860
- Panoramic sunroof: $3110
- Carbon interior package: $1600
- Adaptive cruise control: $1620
- Self-steering park assist: $650
- 18-way adaptive sports seats: $580
- Porsche LED puddle lights: $540
- Power steering plus: $490
The Porsche Macan doesn’t have a rating from ANCAP, though it has an older, five-star rating from Euro NCAP based on testing conducted in 2014. This took place before ANCAP harmonised its ratings with Euro NCAP.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- Lane-change assist
- Reversing camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Surround-view cameras
- Front, front-side and curtain airbags
The Porsche Macan is backed by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000km, and Porsche doesn’t offer capped-price servicing like some of its rivals.
The Porsche Macan isn’t the newest mid-sized SUV out there, but it’s still the best for anyone who enjoys driving.
From the moment you sit behind its perfectly-proportioned steering wheel, and the V6 engine fires with a hard-edged bark, it feels special. None of its more mainstream competitors can match its impressive ride and handling balance on air suspension.
It’s not perfect, though. Criticising Porsche for options prices is futile at this point, but it’s also a bit mad you need to pay more than $10,000 to make your GTS look like, you know, a GTS with a full interior package and red paint. It’s also disappointing you need to option adaptive cruise control on a $150,000 luxury SUV in 2022.
The success of the Macan would suggest buyers don’t really care, though. I don’t think I would either.
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MORE: Everything Porsche Macan