The new top-spec 2017 Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Package is a sublime piece of automotive engineering.
Two personalities: one more sedate and pleasant, the other more erratic and intense – and it all comes down to the situation you’re in, the mode of operation in use. This is a car that does calm and crazy, in equal measures.
The Performance Package sees the 3.6-litre six-cylinder turbo engine tickled to output a huge 324kW of power and 600Nm of torque – up 30kW and 50Nm over the regular version. That sees this mid-sized SUV sprint from 0-100km/h two-tenths of a second faster, now 4.4 seconds, and adds 6km/h to its top speed, now a mind-numbing 272km/h.
It’s an insane engine for an SUV of this size, one that probably goes well beyond what you need, in this country at least. But if you happen to find a quiet, twisty stretch of road, you can explore just what the Performance Package brings for its $147,000 (plus on-road costs) price tag.
It. Is. Epic.
There’s a stunning cacophony from under the bonnet as you pin the throttle to the floor, and as the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic shifts through the gears with surgical precision, there’s a pleasant exhaust puff as the cogs swap.
And even better, the noise that comes when you hit the Sport Plus button, which opens up the exhaust and rewards your ears with the music of a six-pot Porsche. And we all know that’s some kind of symphony.
The transmission is tremendous, blipping the throttle as you hammer the brakes into the twists. The upshifts are clinical, snappy – but never brutal – and you’ll find the signposted limit well before you would in a lesser SUV.
You wouldn’t wish for more power, nor more torque. But you might wish for more noise: even though the sports exhaust adds some presence, it’s not the full Porsche package for bolshy extroversion.
It is, one hundred per cent, the Porsche package in its cornering prowess, however. Sport Plus mode releases the grasp of the stability control to a degree, allowing the Macan to dance on its rear tyres before snapping it back into line.
Those tyres – Pirelli P Zero 265/40s at the front and 295/35s at the rear – are wrapped around 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheels, part of the Exterior Package Turbo+ pack, a $14,290 box to tick that also sees the Macan adorned with adaptive LED headlights and tinted LED tail-lights.
Along with tremendous grip, the Macan brakes like a Porsche should, too, with massive 390mm front and 365mm rear discs.
It’s properly playful, and because it has the Performance Package, the active air suspension squats it 15mm lower to the tarmac than a standard Turbo, and the cornering stiffness and body control – whether in tight switchbacks or longer, broader corners – is phenomenal.
The optional Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus system (at $3590) undoubtedly helps, shuffling torque to the corner that needs it, and it also includes an electronically actuated locking rear differential.
Cornering control is nothing without steering accountability, and the Macan delivers on the promise of a Porsche in spades. Our tester had the optional, speed-sensitive Power Steering Plus ($650), which firms up the steering at higher speeds, and lightens it up in urban driving, and in all circumstances the steering was accurate and communicative.
Now that we’ve considered Mr Hyde, what about Dr Jekyll?
Well, the affable nature of the Macan, even in this flagship performance-oriented guise, is easy to see. A stint of Western Sydney’s finest gridlock isn’t enough to spoil the levels of comfort and refinement on offer, with the air suspension dealing commendably with road joins and bumps, and properly luxurious levels of noise suppression. Coarse-chip is noticeable, but not loud by any stretch, and it'll do less than 13 litres per 1oo kilometres, even if you're giving it a hard time (not bad considering the claim is 9.7L/100km).
At urban speeds the Macan coasts along like any other quality SUV, exonerating speed humps with ease, and the surround-view camera system (again, optional: $1660) makes easy work of parking: the rear-view camera will display alongside the “overhead” view when you’re in R, and if you shift to D the front-view camera comes up, which is very handy for tight parking spaces.
This is a totally liveable vehicle in daily running, which is both surprising and utterly unsurprising, given the Porsche brand heritage. And it feels every dollar it costs, though the mechanical integrated ignition fob, rather than a push-button ignition, is a bit odd.
Part of the reason it is so liveable is the interior, with its supple leather trim, its brilliant – if extensive – array of buttons for the controls, and its media screen. That screen is an updated one compared to the original version that came in the Macan when it launch in 2014, and it includes Apple CarPlay, but at bit of a rude option cost of $1090. The Macan has a single USB port up front, and a pair of rear charging points.
Still, the interface is better – more refined and stylish, with better functionality and usability, not to mention nicer graphics. It connects and reconnects quickly to a Bluetooth device, too.
Things have moved on a bit in the world of the Volkswagen Group and the instrument clusters on offer, with cars like the VW Golf sporting a 12.3-inch digital cluster – but, not yet, for the Macan. However, it still has the handy left-side dial that can show things from engine metrics to navigation instructions.
One of the best aspects of the Macan is its dual temperature and fan controls, and you can set the temperature preferences up to align with a specific key. The rear seat has vents and climate control, but not with temperature settings – rather, with red hotter/blue colder style buttons in three increments each way.
Storage is reasonably well catered for, with large centre cupholders, big door pockets all around, but there’s a lack of loose item storage in the centre area up front, and no map/tablet pockets in the rear. There is, at least, a fold-down armrest with cupholders back there, and the seats fold 40:20:40 if you need to slide through a set of skis.
The boot opening is large, too, with the tailgate aperture offering easy load-in to the 500-litre cargo hold, and there’s a space-saver spare under the floor. This car, with its air suspension, also has the option of raising or lowering the back end; and we love the hidden boot-opening button on the wiper arm.
Our biggest criticism of the interior is that it is a bit cramped in the second row for legroom, particular if the driver is six-foot-tall or more. It’s really only a two passenger space, too, with the transmission tunnel eating in to the middle pew somewhat, though head- and shoulder-room with two adults on board is fine. There are three top-tether child-seat anchor points, as well as two ISOFIX anchor points.
That talk of children brings us to a shortfall of the Macan, for family buyers at least: its standard safety equipment. Admittedly, you get a rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors, as well as eight airbags (dual front, front side, rear side, curtain), but none of the extra electronic safety assistance aids. Most of them are just the tick of a box away, though: adaptive cruise control with forward collision alert ($2990); blind-spot monitoring ($1390) and lane-keeping assist ($1390), or the two combined ($2780).
On the whole, the 2017 Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Package is a very enticing offering in the luxury SUV segment. It’s more Porsche sports car (Mr Hyde) than practical SUV (Dr Jeckyll), and that’s okay, because it’s so convincing at the former objective that you can forgive some of its shortcomings in the latter.