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In the third quarter of 2018, Porsche charted revenue of 19.1 billion euros (RM90 billion) and profit of 3.3 billion euros (RM15.5 billion). Look at what the cat brought in – 350,000 units of the Macan were sold up to that time. Not only has the junior SUV fattened up the black ink-penned bottom line, it has done so despite only coming into being only less than six years ago.
The Porsche Macan has played a huge role in bringing the sportscar maker from Stuttgart yet further into profitability – an important evolutionary step if the company is to continue making the sports cars it has historically been known for, alongside the development towards electrification the industry as a whole is headed.
And evolve the Macan Porsche has done, though if judged by what its exterior looks like, the German firm can’t be faulted for lacking subtlety in the revisions made to its bestseller. Has Porsche done enough? Let’s find out.
Famed for its sports cars, the marque has perhaps wisely chosen to stay close to the overall visual cues of the 2014 original, providing enough of a refresh to keep its most compact model in line with the style of its rangemates.
To see where the changes have been made, we must first go back. Literally, to the rump of the Macan, which is where the revised tail lamp assembly now cuts a singular red light strip across the car’s width, giving the SUV its most obvious visual distinction. It’s much the same as before when viewed in profile, while there are select updates again at the sharp end with a revised front bumper and new LED headlamps.
Revisions to the interior are sparing. The dashboard has been updated to accommodate a new, larger infotainment panel, which now measures 10.9 inches across, up from the 7.2-inch unit of the previous iteration, with the central air-conditioning vents relocated to suit the new screen’s added width. Infotainment has been updated to keep with the times, where Porsche Connect enables mobile device pairing with Android and Apple systems.
The proliferation of buttons along the transmission tunnel remains, instead of the visually slicker haptic feedback configuration found on the larger Cayenne and Panamera. To these hands, however, the more traditional setup of conventional buttons offer a more tactile experience, and a greater sense of positivity upon each command of any given knob or button. Perhaps yours truly is just more old-fashioned that way…
Driver instrumentation has also been lightly revised, where the analogue speedometer and tachometer are now joined by a configurable TFT display to the right. The now-familiar 918 Spyder2-style sports steering wheel takes pride of place in the front row, and makes for a pleasingly intuitive driving environment together with the supportive front seats. If Sport Chrono is specified, the Sport Response dial is located at the approximate 4 o’clock position just off the wheel boss.
The Macan’s body-in-white remains as before and thus carries over the cabin, which similarly offers interior space that is either snug or sufficient, depending on one’s persuasion. For the driver, his or her immediate surroundings continues to be good news as with the pre-facelift car, where the positioning of the seat, pedals and steering wheel relative to each other is spot on. No untoward quirks, for the five-foot-ten frame of yours truly, at least.
Two variants were on offer for our sampling – the base Macan with a 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine, and the 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 petrol-engined Macan S.
First up was the more potent of the duo, the Macan S with 354 hp and 480 Nm of torque at our disposal. The gains of 14 hp and 20 Nm over the previous boosted six-pot is the result of not merely a calibration exercise, rather a new unit which relocates its twin-scroll turbocharger to the centre of the ‘V’ within both banks of cylinders in order to achieve improved responsiveness.
On the urban and rural roads around Mallorca, the revised turbo six offered all the thrust and immediacy one could feel they need from a compact SUV, even one with a name so overtly associated with motorsport. Certainly, variants more potent than this Macan S will surface in due course, for those who so desire.
When the going got narrower, the smaller exterior dimensions (relative to the Cayenne) worked to the Macan’s benefit, enabling its driver to thread the 1.92 metre-wide (2.09 metres, including mirrors) SUV through the Spanish countryside at pace with greater confidence.
That confidence is further bolstered by the consistency of the control weights on the Macan S, where steering, brakes and throttle are concerned. Porsche says plenty of attention has been paid to braking, where a lighter brake pedal now acts upon the master cylinder via a shortened lever arm.
This is difficult to ascertain without back-to-back comparison against the pre-facelift car, although in isolation the optional PCCB ceramic brakes on the Macan S are tirelessly brilliant, offering a comfortable surfeit of braking power with plenty of pedal feel that enables fine modulation.
Steering is well-judged for weight and directness, in turn imparting responses that feel very much at home in a vehicle of this size and weight. Where the driver steers, the Macan S points with eagerness and hangs on with tenacity which belies its height, and responds rather more akin to a hatchback of traditional stature.
The Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) active damping setup is well calibrated across the selection offered, neither sacrificing too much body control for plushness in its softest, nor trading too much absorbency for roll resistance in its firmest. The Macan just deals with the road surface and driver demands of the moment, and delivers composure.
Could the Macan S improve further upon its chassis? Perhaps, though this is likely down to a buyer’s selection of the right options, where ride quality is concerned. Even considering that bump absorption on the Macan S is very agreeable, it could possibly do even better when shod with a wheel-and-tyre combo smaller than the 21-inch diameter set fitted to our test unit.
Our next drive session saw time with the base Macan, which is endowed with the 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 245 hp and 370 Nm of torque. These outputs are down from the preceding version’s 252 hp, owing to measures taken towards compliance with the new, stricter WLTP emission regulations.
In light of the larger Volkswagen Group’s move away from diesel and towards electrification, this petrol four-pot will perhaps be the one to receive Macan Diesel emigrants, or for those looking for the most accessible point of entry into four-door Porsche ownership.
Make no mistake with its entry-level positioning, however, as the base Macan is no poor relation, even in comparison to its more prodigious family members. The fit and finish of the four-cylinder Macan’s cabin feels and appears identical in quality – which is to say, very well put together – to that of the six-cylinder Macan S, with most, if not all trimmings in the larger-engined version available for specification in the base car.
It can’t be helped that in this case, the base Macan lacks in raw muscle from being two cylinders and one litre short in the engine stakes, though the trade-off comes in being 70 kg lighter than the Macan S, with a rated unladen weight of 1,795 kg compared to 1,865 kg for the latter.
As we found, the base car’s three-figure deficit in peak power is made up for when threading through twistier roads – the more modestly propelled version allows for smoother transitions between braking, steering and accelerating (something also noted with the pre-facelift back in 2015). This is largely due to not having as much accumulated speed to scrub off before negotiating a given turn, rather than any dynamic shortcoming on the part of the Macan S. Both models tested wore identically-sized footwear, measuring 265/40R21 and 295/35R21 front and rear, respectively.
The base model’s cast-iron disc brakes measuring 345 mm and 330 mm front and rear respectively are no less reassuring than the optional ceramics on the Macan S. In fact, their slightly softer initial bite allows for even smoother modulation of the brakes, which should be more enjoyable for the vast majority who don’t regularly commit to a touge run en route to wor or on the way home.
As such, it could be argued that the base, 2.0 litre four-pot Macan is the more fluent exponent of tackling a twisty road at modest speeds, on top of potential benefits in terms of running costs. Having said that, anyone buying into this segment of the SUV market is doing so for a price, and will also place a premium on the nuances which add to the driver’s enjoyment – things filed under ‘indulgence’, which may as well include added straight-line pace.
Additionally, while the new V6 mill isn’t the most operatic-sounding unit around, it is nonetheless a richer tonal offering than the four-pot in the base Macan, though the latter still does a highly competent job of sufficiently exercising the chassis for a good time at the helm.
To answer the earlier posed question: has Porsche done enough with this update of the Macan? On account of our time spent with this duo, we’d say so. There are certainly more commodious offerings both within the SUV segment as well as beyond it for the ballpark price range, but if driver enjoyment on paved roads is at the top of your shopping list for a tall-riding vehicle, the current Macan range – albeit a short one, for the time being – remains the sharpest row of tools on the rack.