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To hail the Porsche Macan Turbo as the new class leader in the mid-size luxury SUV segment simply isn’t enough - this is a serious example of all-wheel-drive mastery from Stuttgart that properly smashes the ball out of the park.
Not only does it offer the most driver-focussed dynamics ever delivered in an SUV, it does so without compromising any of the key features of today’s most popular family haulers.
Visually, you’ll be hard pressed picking the range-topping Turbo from its less-expensive Porsche Macan siblings, at least beyond the badging - subtlety is the name of game here.
That’s not to say that the Macan, even the even the entry-level Macan S, isn’t a superb looker. In my opinion, it’s got the most contemporary and most complete styling of any luxury SUV on the market today, including the popular Range Rover Evoque.
The lesser-powered S models get round exhaust tips, while the Turbo gets trapezoidal pipes, and the S versions come with staggered 19-inch Macan Turbo alloys with silver brake calipers, while the smoking-hot Turbo comes with staggered 20-inch SportDesign wheels with shiny red brake calipers.
Inside, it’s the same story. The interior looks and feels expensive, despite the same overly busy centre console, as you’ll find in any other Porsche-badged vehicle, though it doesn’t take long to navigate your way around the multitude of switches and buttons.
The entire Macan range is well specced, but the Turbo gets a few more creature comforts, such as a more advanced lighting package, more leather, Alcantara roof lining, keyless entry and drive and a top-shelf Bose sound system.
The adaptive sports seats are another superb addition for the Turbo, with exactly the right blend of bolster and cushioning for either hard-core performance driving or the laid back daily commute.
However, it's under the bonnet where the Turbo packs its heaviest firepower. Armed with a potent 911-calibre 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 generating 294kW and 550Nm of torque, the Macan Turbo can hit 100km/h in a mind-blowing 4.6 seconds using the standard-fit seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – exactly the same performance as the Porsche 911 Carrera S manual.
Of course, that’s if you opt for the Sport Chrono Package, otherwise it’s a still-blistering 4.8 seconds – ballistic pace for an SUV that tips the scales at 1925 kilograms.
However, ultimate performance always commands a hefty premium, especially in the luxury category, and in the Macan’s case, that’s quite a hike.
Wearing a price tag of $122,400 plus on-road costs, the range-topping Turbo represents a whopping $37,500 step up from the mid-range Macan S petrol model, priced from $86,700. The entry-level S Diesel is yours for just $84,900, making it currently the cheapest Porsche you can buy.
To provide some context, the next most affordable Porsche badge belongs to the Porsche Cayenne (Porsche’s largest SUV) V6 petrol for $100,200 but it still only seats five. At the opposite end of the company’s high-performance stable, there’s the 911 Turbo S Cabriolet for a cool $463,100 - more than four times that of a base Macan.
That’s not to say that the less powerful Macan models don’t measure up to Porsche’s legendary performance heritage, because they most certainly do.
Take the mid-spec Macan S. Under the bonnet sits a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 with 250kW and 460Nm – good enough for the benchmark 0-100 scoot in 5.4 seconds - or 5.2sec with the Sport Chrono package.
The Porsche Macan S Diesel is only available with a 3.0-litre V6 (there’s a twin-turbo V8 diesel in the Cayenne range) producing 190kW and 580Nm of torque, and able to hit 100km/h in 6.3 seconds (6.1sec with Sports Chrono pack). While it’s certainly not lacking in pace, it will also manage a miserly 6.3L/100km and emit just 159g/km of CO2.
Both petrol models are boosted by twin-turbochargers, but only the top-shelf Macan wears the revered Turbo badge, benefiting from 17.4 psi of boost verses 14.5 psi for the 3.0-litre engine in the Macan S.
Nail the throttle from a standing start and you’ll experience the same kind of lag-free ferocity as you would in a thoroughbred sports car, only in the Macan Turbo it feels quicker, as you’re simply not expecting to be pinned to the seatback in an SUV – even a Porsche SUV. There’s no squirming, wheel spin, or loss of grip either, it just hunkers down and you’re gone.
In-gear thrust is just as vicious, with the Turbo able to slingshot from 100km/h to 160km/h in just 6.3 seconds. What’s more, that thrust doesn’t let up, though we ran out of tarmac to push any harder.
The only downside to all this performance is that there isn't enough of an exhaust note - inside or out of the Macan.
Porsche claims the Macan Turbo drinks high-octane fuel to the tune of 9.2L per 100 kilometres, but exploit the Porsche’s unique talents and it’s a lot more thirsty. We saw 13.2L/100km, as tested.
This kind of go also demands serious stopping power and the Macan Turbo delivers that in spades (with no obvious brake fade), along with superb body control that keeps everything in perfect check.
Power is nothing without refinement, and Porsche’s crisp-shifting, paddle-controlled, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is the absolute benchmark in this regard and a standout piece of engineering to boot that allows the driver to work through the gears in the smoothest, most refined manner possible, even in the more aggressive Sport mode.
For the quickest shift times and the most aggressive drive program there’s a Sport + setting, but you’d be well-advised to save that mode for those occasional Porsche track days, as its simply too intense for everyday roadwork.
It’s not just the Turbo’s ballistic pace that deserves glowing accolades, the superbly tuned and beautifully weighted steering allows for seriously rapid changes of direction, with all the confidence in the world. There’s nothing quite so precise or so responsive in the current SUV world.
Big shout out, too, for the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and air suspension (standard fit on the Macan Turbo), as even in the softest setting, there’s no discernable body roll, even when pushed into tight turns. The sophisticated air suspension system drops the ride height by 10mm (but can also lift 40mm for off-roading) and adds active roll countering for additional stability under heavy loads.
In Sport and Sport Plus, the ride firms up progressively, but it’s never without a comfortable level of bump-absorbing compliance. I’m still amazed at how Porsche engineers have achieved such a perfect balance with the suspension with such a hefty SUV riding on 20-inch alloys shod with low-profile rubber.
There’s nothing wrong with the Macan S or S Diesel, they represent superb value for money in the Porsche stable, in every way.
However, if you want handling perfection in your Porsche SUV, combined with the same level of drag strip performance as a 911, then the Macan Turbo has no peer.
Click the Photos tab for more images by Mitchell Oke