Words By: Adam Allen
If you insist on a go-fast SUV, it’ll be hard to top this one
Soooooo… another SUV with a glut of power.
At this point, if you are not used to headlines that involve SUVs making serious horsepower that can stop and turn better than many sports sedans of a handful of years ago, we applaud your resolute ambivalence. You can plug your ears and shut your eyes tight all you want but these things aren’t going anywhere- quite the opposite, actually. We are living in an age where Ford is slapping ST badges on Explorer and Didge plans on stuffing a 707 horsepower Hellcat engine in a Durango which reaffirms the notion that people want SUVs that can haul you and the family as capably as they can haul ass. It’s a trend that will be here for the foreseeable future, folks.
So you got your hands on a Porsche Macan Turbo, but now it’s packing a smaller engine. Is it still relevant?
Yes. Despite the engine being downsized from a 3.6 litre V6 to one displacing 2.9, there is more power on tap- hard to argue with that. Here it makes 434 horsepower and 406 pounds feet of torque. That’s enough scoot to satiate even the most impatient families. But the Macan is so much more than a 0-100km/h one-trick pony; this SUV can scrub off speed and handle your favorite roads with a proficiency that so many of its ilk try to achieve and ultimately fall short. While it shares a distant link to the Audi Q5 platform, trust us- Porsche has seen to it that the Macan feels nothing like a Q5.
Fine, but does she go around corners OK?
The Macan Turbo does such a convincing impression of a sports car that should you own say, a 2011 Audi S6 (the very same one powered by a Lamborghini-sourced V10) you would exit the Porsche ashen faced and maybe a little embarrassed. That’s right, folks- a contemporary hotted up SUV will soundly spank many performance icons of just a few short years ago. And while those brutes often served up ride quality that could charitably be described as brittle, the Macan’s air suspension provides a supple experience that is a stark juxtaposition to its lofty handling abilities. There’s so much excellence taking place here dynamically that we apologize for blurting out a summary of our experience: That engine, while downsized, makes enough power to deliver a sub-4 second sprint to highway speeds and sounds terrific doing it. Surely it must be one of the best V6 engines you can currently buy. The PDK transmission it’s mated to is never flummoxed by any situation you may encounter, allowing for buttery smooth shifts around town and then snapping off whip-crack shifts when you want to dance. The standard fitment of Porsche’s new Surface Coated Brakes endow the Macan with fearsome deceleration, and during our Road Test we felt like we were not even challenging them, even after a few hard stops sprinting between stop signs on concession roads in cottage country. The steering is perhaps the best we have ever sampled in any SUV- maybe even better than some contemporary sports cars. And if you like having fun scaring family and friends, engage the Macan’s launch control- just make sure someone with a steady hand is around to film their reaction as the Turbo catapults towards the horizon.
Whew! Hard not to get the pulse rate up after reading that. Did you find the time to check out the interior?
Inside is just as you would expect- high quality materials, unimpeachable build quality and all the comforts and niceties you could ever want. A couple of things stood out to us, though. The driving position is nigh on perfect and anyone will feel right a home after futzing with the myriad of power adjustments for the seats and steering wheel. It is admittedly a little snug for rear passengers but they will be too enthralled at the driving delights offered by this speedster SUV that they are likely not to notice. The front console is very button heavy; seriously, it’s a little overwhelming at first. Once you get used to it, there is nary a problem and you begin to operate the controls intuitively without taking your eyes off the road.
What might go wrong?
As in dating, after the honeymoon phase starts to wear off you find things that bug you after spending a few days with the Macan Turbo. There’s the little nits to pick, like how Porsche has moved away from a floor hinged throttle, how the comfort seat entry gets your settings all wrong even after you try and shut it off multiple times and how the wind turbulence created when you roll the windows down on a beautiful summer day hurts your ears. Oh, and the cargo area does not leave much room for your stuff. These all fade into nothing once you start sashaying the Macan Turbo down your favorite twisty road. The biggest fault we’d levy at the Porsche is that the when you slot the gear lever into its manual setting, you realize they got it backwards: it should be push forward to downshift and pull for an upshift, not the way it comes from the factory. Luckily, there is an easy workaround; just use the beautiful shift paddles peeking out from behind the steering wheel. The gripes are minor are best and only enthusiasts and Porsche fans like us are really going to find an issue with.
Should I buy a Macan Turbo?
If our breathless review does not convince you otherwise, yes, you should buy a Porsche Macan Turbo. If you are reading this then your interest in high performance SUVs is serious and while there are other options, none as holistically dialed in as a driver’s tool as the Macan. You’ll need to bring money- lots of it, it should be noted- but the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ holds true, even if you what you pay happens to be more than what the other guys window stickers are claiming. Readers familiar to this space know we prefer a sedan over an SUV any day of the week and twice on Sunday. However, for the Macan Turbo we will gladly make an exception.
2020 Porsche Macan Turbo – Specifications
- Price as tested: $119,260
- Body Type: 5-door, 5 passenger SUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Engine: 2.9-litre twin turbo V6, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 434 @ 5,700 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 406 @ 1,800 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed PDK automatic
- Curb weight: 1,945 kg (4,288 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Economy: 13.9/100km (17 mpg)