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Putting the 2019 Porsche Macan through its paces

Is the 2019 Porsche Macan a baby Cayenne, or a big Cayman? We head to the autobahn to find out

Here we are, joining the A20 at Niendorf with no speed limit between ourselves and Hamburg.

There are many places of interest to visit in Germany from the castles of Bavaria to the forests of Baden Württemberg. But for car enthusiasts there is but one place to head, and that’s the autobahn. 

German federal roads are quite strict (and well enforced) when it comes to speed limits, but head out on to the autobahn and basically, you can go as fast as you want. And here we are, joining the A20 at Niendorf with technically no speed limit between ourselves and Hamburg. At the end of the throttle is a 354 horsepower, single turbo V6, which with the Sport Chrono Package, enables the Macan S to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds, while topping out at 254km/h.

However, this is Germany, in March, so conditions for our drive are cold, wet and very windy. Even so, we accelerate out onto the busy A20 and join the ‘fast lane’. Incredibly, a lot of unrestricted autobahn is only two lane, so today, it’s us on the left and the trucks, busses and family hatchbacks on the right. 

Here we are, joining the A20 at Niendorf with no speed limit between ourselves and Hamburg.

A short, open stretch of tarmac allows us to open up the S for the first time and as you would expect in a 354 horsepower Porsche, acceleration is brisk. It’s all very safe and sure-footed though; even in full ‘maximum attack’, you’re always in full control of the little SUV. The Macan doesn’t smack you in the back when you floor the throttle, instead it just builds constantly and in Sport+ mode, with the exhaust valves open it certainly sounds like a Porsche, with the V6 taking on its own impressive impersonation of the famous flat-6 growl.  

Sadly, as the road ahead opens up, so do the black clouds above us and we head into a Hollywoodesque squall of driving rain and unpredictable crosswinds – not ideal conditions for a high-speed run. Instead, I let the Macan find its own sweet spot. 

Cars have a point in top gear where the engine’s comfortably cruising on a wave of peak torque and here we are in the S, settling down at an indicated 160km/h. It might not seem that fast, but considering the fact that we’re basically powering through a storm, that’s pretty impressive. It’s hard to believe that this is the same manufacturer that built the 930 Turbo ‘widowmaker’. Familiarity would make the Macan even brisker, as there’s clearly plenty of power left in reserve, but for now, hovering around 160km/h is fast enough in these conditions. 

Coming off the autobahn and heading into a wet and cold German countryside we start playing with the steering wheel mounted Sport Chrono Package MODE dial. This unassuming wheel governs the Macan’s character, changing it from comfy school run to snarling drag racer with a twist of the wrist.

Here, ‘normal’ can be found at the 12-o’clock position. In this mode, the seven speed PDK gearbox quickly shifts up to (and stays in) 6th or 7th gear for optimal economy/relaxed cruising. The suspension also softens and the valve in the exhaust closes for a hushed ride. It’s Porsche’s Grandma mode, making the Macan as easy to drive as a small
family hatchback.

Turn it 90 degrees to the right and the dial hits the Sport setting. It’s very tempting to just flick from Normal to Sport+, cutting out the middleman. But leave it in Sport and the chassis stiffens, the throttle response is sharpened, the exhaust valve opens and the PDK is knocked down a couple of cogs. Fast, refined and safe. Simple.

In Sport+ mode, the suspension and throttle responses are tightened even further and the revs rise as the PDK drops down to the ideal gear for acceleration. Another fun part of the Sport Chrono Package is the ‘emergency start’. Here, you have a genuine launch control feature to play with, which is as straightforward as pressing the brake pedal with your left foot, floor the accelerator with your right (the engine will sit at 5,000rpm), then all you need to do is release the brake and you shoot forward like the proverbial scalded tiger. 

Handling wise, with an already tight chassis tweaked by Porsche’s engineers, the Macan is unflappable on normal roads. No matter what you do to it, the all wheel drive system combined with 265/40 x21s up front and 295/3 5x21s at the back, simply sticks to the road. 

In normal driving conditions, it feels like you’re using only 20% of the Macan’s abilities. Whether you’re cruising gently, or trying to have a bit of a play, the Macan remains neutral and user friendly, even in Sport+, where you would expect it to be a little more ‘twitchy’. It isn’t in the slightest. This is one very fast, buy ultimately safe machine.

Whereas the Porsche Cayenne may well share garage space with a 911, the Macan will most likely be a big brother to a Cayman. The sport crossover, with its dominant ride height and offroad capabilities makes it the ideal daily driver, especially so for the Middle East. 

It’s spacious, comfortable and surefooted – a mini, luxury SUV that reflects its original codename of Cajun (Cayenne Junior). If you’re in the market for a vehicle that can do the school run as easy as it can lap Yas Marina Circuit, then the 2019 Porsche Macan should be on your list. 

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