Porsche Macan 2019 turbo, Porsche Macan 2020 turbo

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo review

Australian first drive

Rating: 8.3
$142,000 Mrlp
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The long-running benchmark for performance SUVs has been given a nip and tuck – can it retain its place at the top?
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The Porsche Macan Turbo has long been regarded the benchmark performance SUV, so you can imagine my excitement when I was thrown the keys for the latest version – it's my first Porsche review, after all.

Now with more power and more kit than before, the new Macan Turbo (from $142,000 plus on-road costs) aims to keep itself atop the podium against new arrivals like the BMW X3 M and Jaguar F-Pace SVR, along with other go-fast high-riding wagon favourites like the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

So what's changed? Well, the looks for starters. Being part of the facelifted Macan range, the Turbo gets rejigged bumpers, and LED lighting all round.

It may not look all that different, but you can certainly tell the updated Macan from its predecessor from the rear, thanks to the new LED tail-light arrangement connected through the centre via a light strip like various other models in the Porsche stable.

For the Turbo, there's plenty of updates under the bonnet, too. Gone is the outgoing model's turbocharged 3.6-litre V6, swapped out for the company's latest 2.9-litre bi-turbo V6 shared with various models like the Cayenne and Panamera, along with the new Audi RS4 and RS5.

Outputs are rated at 324kW (6600rpm) and 550Nm (1800-5600rpm), up 30kW on its predecessor despite the drop in displacement. It's also worth noting the new bi-turbo V6 hits peak power 600rpm higher than the old unit, while maximum torque comes in 450rpm later, though is available across a wider band.

Drive is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, good for a claimed 0-100 sprint time of 4.5 seconds, or 4.3 seconds with the optional Sports Chrono Package. (In both cases, that’s a 0.3 second improvement over the old Macan Turbo.)

Porsches are rarely about the hard numbers, though, and more about the experience of driving. The Macan certainly lives up to that brand trait.

From the moment you hop in the driver's seat, you immediately feel like you're driving something special. The sports steering wheel that you see across the Porsche range looks and feels lovely, and the classic Porsche instrument cluster (optioned here in white) are another throwback to the sports cars the company has built its legend on.

Turn the 'key' and the bi-turbo V6 roars to life, emitting a high-pitched growl on start up augmented by the standard sports exhaust system – we'll get more into the soundtrack in a bit.

Out on the road, you might be surprised with just how capable the Macan is as an all-rounder. It's so sharp yet so comfortable, and does everything you ask of it without breaking a sweat.

We took the Porsche crossover for a stint through some twisty B-roads around Warrandyte and Research out in Melbourne's east, and the Macan just ate everything up.

There's superb balance in the chassis and heaps of grip from the 265/40 R21 front and 295/35 R21 Continental Contisportcontact SP tyres, while the steering is quick and communicative so you always feel like you're in full control.

The feeling through the tiller is a little on the lighter side, even in the sharpest Sport+ setting, but the steering weight helps the Macan to feel light and nimble through successive bends, and it's not like you can't tell what the front wheels are doing.

If you're feeling a little racy, you can flick the gearshift into manual mode and change gears yourself using the lovely polished paddle shifters mounted behind the wheel, and in tandem with the PDK transmission, you're in for a hoot.

The PDK has been touted as one of, if not the best dual-clutch transmission out there, and the Macan Turbo's example does little to spoil that. Flick one of the paddles and there's immediate response, and the shifts happen so quickly you may wonder if the car knew you were about to change gear before you did.

If you let the revs climb and shift at just the right moment, you'll be rewarded with a crack from the exhaust, while in Sport and Sport+ modes you'll hear some crackles and pops on overrun when you lift off the throttle.

However, the Macan Turbo can leave you wanting a little more in terms of straight-line pace. It's not as ferocious as, say, the bi-turbo V8 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S which muscles itself to triple figures more than half a second quicker than the Porsche, and the soundtrack can sound a little muted due to the cabin's excellent sound insulation. You win some, you lose some.

Leaving the transmission in 'D' can also be frustrating in more spirited driving, as the PDK will tend to select a higher gear in the name of efficiency and harmony. Plant your foot and the Macan can take a moment to drop down a couple of ratios and get you back in the power band.

Meanwhile, we found the brake pedal feel can be a little inconsistent at times, occasionally requiring more input than expected to pull the 1.9-tonne Macan to a halt. She's a heavy girl.

According to Porsche, though, the standard Surface Coated Brakes on the Macan Turbo feature a tungsten carbide coating on the discs, and offer faster response and less wear compared to conventional cast-iron stoppers.

These units are characterised by the high-gloss discs and white painted brake calipers, and are now available as an option on the wider Macan range, too.

On the flip side, the Macan is a fantastic companion around town, offering a supple, cosseting drive that's so well insulated from the outside world you could be in a luxury limousine.

The Turbo's standard air suspension does a wonderful job of isolating the cabin from the various lumps and bumps of inner city roads, even on massive 21-inch wheels and Continental performance tyres.

Even better is the level of insulation from wind and road noise regardless of whether you're in the city or on a country highway. It not only ensures long-distance comfort but also lifts the ambience to a cut above most of the competition.

The PDK transmission rarely exhibits any of the low-speed niggles associated with dual-clutch shifters, though occasionally if you try to stomp on the throttle from the lights and the engine is firing up after using the idle stop/start system, you may feel a fraction-of-a-second delay in power delivery – which could be viewed as more of a learning curve than anything else.

In the city the bi-turbo V6 gets along nicely, with plenty of low-down torque and a nice brassy exhaust note. The seven-speed PDK will try to find the highest ratio when in 'Comfort' mode, so every now and then it'll take a moment to kick down a couple of cogs if you need to quickly make a gap in traffic.

Fuel use is pretty good, given the engine's performance potential, too. On the highway we saw the trip computer reading low- to mid-8.0L/100km, while more urban driving in city traffic saw that figure rise to between 11-12L/100km. Officially, Porsche claims 10.0L/100km.

Naturally, the Macan Turbo demands 98 RON premium unleaded as a minimum. The 75L fuel tank should get you decent range between fills, too.

Compared to lesser Macan models, the Turbo picks up some extra equipment to go with the extra grunt. There's a model-specific front bumper, a fixed roof spoiler with double-wing design, adaptive 18-way sports seats, 665W Bose surround sound, the aforementioned Porsche Surface Coated Brake system, height-adjustable air suspension, and 21-inch 911 Turbo Design alloy wheels.

Other highlights include LED headlights with Porsche Dynamic Light System, Sport Design elements for the side skirts and wing mirrors (in body colour), a sports exhaust system with silver tailpipes, smooth leather upholstery, an Alcantara headliner, the brushed aluminium interior package, keyless entry and start, heated front seats, 360-degree cameras, privacy glass, Porsche Active Suspension Management, digital radio, and wireless Apple CarPlay integrated into the 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management infotainment system.

Carried over from base models, the PCM unit comes with navigation, which incorporates real-time traffic information and voice control, an LTE telephone module with SIM card reader, along with a WiFi hotspot and access to Porsche Connect services.

The screen resolution is wonderful and response to inputs is nice and snappy, though we encountered some issues with the Bluetooth connection and wireless Apple CarPlay. My iPhone XS Max had a very temperamental relationship with the Macan's infotainment unit, often disconnecting as a media player and never being able to establish a wireless Apple CarPlay connection.

Even with the increase in standard specification, there's still plenty of available options and packages that can add tens of thousands to the ticket price of your Macan – such is the way of premium manufacturers.

Our tester alone had over $20,000 of extras included, some of which may have you thinking "shouldn't that be standard?"

The 'Crayon' special exterior paint asks for $4970, while adaptive cruise control (with stop/go + AEB) and lane change assist are priced at $2070 and $1220 respectively (what?!). Want your headlights tinted with an upgraded dynamic light system? That'll be a further $1840, thanks.

If you want the 21-inch Sport Classic alloys in black fitted to our test car, you'll need to cough up $1740. Oh, and that Sport Chrono Package that gets you the aforementioned 4.3-second 0-100 time (launch control, analogue stopwatch) will be another $2390 as well.

Other cost options include the as-tested Panoramic sunroof ($3370), carbon-fibre trim inlays ($1770), tinted LED tail-lights ($1600), white-coloured instrument dials ($1030), black badging ($980), black roof rails ($720), power steering plus ($550) and high-gloss black window surrounds ($420).

There's plenty of other features relegated to the options list, too. Heated front and rear seats are $880, ventilation for the front pews is $1950, an air-conditioning ioniser is $600, a heated steering wheel is anywhere between $560 and $2140 depending on how you want it trimmed, and seatback pockets will cost you $500 as part of the storage package.

Everything inside looks and feels expensive, though. The Alcantara headliner is gorgeous, the 'smooth' leather upholstery is supple, while the polished plastic/metal accents and (optional) carbon-fibre inlays are nothing short of luxe. Nothing remotely within reach feels budget, for the most part.

The driving position feels bang-on, and the standard 18-way power-adjustable sports seats offer great range of movement and oodles of support under your bum and thighs as well as your lower back. You can even adjust the bolsters to 'hug' you a little tighter, should you so wish.

While we as enthusiasts praise the 'classic' appointments like the steering wheel and gauges, many will find them dated – Porsche buyers won't care, but it may not appeal to buyers from outside the brand that love the increasingly digital layouts of rival models.

The button-heavy centre console can be tricky to navigate on the move, and the various functions of the PCM infotainment system are limited to touch inputs due to the small number of buttons on the steering wheel.

Furthermore, you can hear some of the steering wheel plastics flexing if you turn the wheel with a solid grip, which doesn't feel very luxurious. I personally am not a fan of the clicky buttons and switches, either.

I could be nit-picking, but when you're spending this much money on what is an upper-luxury car, it's hard not to expect the highest levels of fit and finish.

The back seat is a little tight for adults, especially with a taller driver up front. Our tester's optional sunroof also eats into headroom. There's vents and climate control, but not with actual temperature settings – rather, with hotter/colder buttons in three increments each way.

Storage is decent throughout, though seatback map pockets are optional. There's bottle holders in the doors and a fold-down rear centre armrest with cup holders, along with two USB-C outlets in the rear for charging your portable devices which add to the two USB-C inputs hidden in the front centre armrest bin.

Isofix child seat mounts reside on each outboard rear pew, and there's top-tether points on all three back seats.

Behind the second row of seats is a 500L storage area, which extends to 1500L if you drop the 40:20:40 rear seatbacks. The luggage area itself is wide and square for easy loading.

From an ownership perspective, the Macan range is covered by the company's three year, unlimited kilometre warranty with three years of 24-hour roadside assistance. It's pretty standard for the premium class, so while we'd like to see longer coverage, Porsche is on par with its rivals.

The updated Porsche Macan Turbo will continue to resonate with the current crop of buyers, and no doubt makes incremental improvements to an already fantastic all-round package.

Compared to the four-cylinder Macan and single-turbo V6 Macan S, the Turbo brings another level of performance and dynamism that's befitting of a Porsche badge, though cannot match the sheer muscle and extensive spec lists of the majority of its direct competitors.

I personally think the Macan S is the sweet spot in terms of pricing and performance, however, and strategic ticking of the options list can get you a very well-rounded luxury performance SUV for about $40,000 less than the car you see here.

The Macan Turbo is an excellent vehicle in just about every aspect and will make you feel special every time you get behind the wheel – though that comes at a hefty price.

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