By on November 2, 2014

2015 Porsche Macan SThe Porsche Macan’s diving roofline severely cramps cargo capacity. The centre hump in the rearward portion of the cabin is almost as high as the seat cushion, which could force the Macan into becoming a four-seater depending on the number of legs possessed by its passengers.

The driver’s view out the back is far from expansive, and the driver must also deal with some odd layouts for cruise control, rear wipers, and centre-console mounted switches which are sometimes blocked by the shifter.

The Macan is a pricey piece of kit, with options required on a (USD) $50,895 Macan S to turn it into a car with parking sensors, a backup camera, heated rear seats, and navigation. Our tester costs $58,145 (U.S. market pricing including destination) and it still doesn’t have cooled seats, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless go, blind spot monitoring, sunshades, a proper hi-lux audio system, or any of Porsche’s performance options.

Moreover, even with optional 19-inch wheels, which are free of charge in the U.S. but cost $1440 in Canada, the Macan S still looks like it’s wearing base footwear.

Life’s rough.

Here I had a week of load-lugging to get through, a week that was to end with a 372-mile journey to the wedding of my wife’s cousin in Cape Breton, and it’s warm enough in mid-October to need constant air conditioning, and the Porsche only very gradually cools its occupants. All the while, I’m accidentally turning the heated steering wheel on and off because the button is on the back of the steering wheel, and the button doesn’t have enough feel, and feel is essentially the only thing an auto writer worth his weight in press junket shrimp cares about.

And, in the context of small utility vehicles, everything else is basically perfect.

2015 Porsche Macan SThe experience is literally special from the start. A turn of the key prompts a large bellow from the quad exhaust pipes, and the rumble persists for an extended period as the twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 (340 horsepower, 339 lb-ft of torque) warms up on a crisp morning. You won’t hear this noise every time you remove your foot from the brake at stoplights – the Macan S has an auto-stop function that can be turned off (and which Sport mode turns off on its own), but the engine comes to life smoothly and quietly in those circumstances.

As a follow-up to the Audi SQ5 I drove the week before, the Macan S’s powerplant felt almost imperceptibly underwhelming. Where the 354-horsepower supercharged 3.0L V6 in the SQ5 delivers its power with a brick-breaking punch at any moment, the Porsche’s engine is more characterful, happier to rev for the sake of revving, and it also makes a better noise.

The SQ5’s 8-speed automatic is also superior to the Macan’s 7-speed PDK, particularly in everyday driving where the dual-clutch Porsche unit tends to lug around in the briefest moments of confusion at low speeds. It’ll certainly snap off barking upshifts in a hurry when under heavy throttle, however. Indeed, outside of comparisons with ZF’s renowned 8-speed, the PDK would likely shine.

2015 Porsche Macan S interiorYet it’s the Porsche’s manners when driven conventionally that cause the Macan to stand out. Yes, the SQ5 is a capable handler; a surprisingly adept vehicle on twisty roads. But the Audi’s always telling you how sporty it is, while the Porsche walks more walk instead of chattering more chit-chat. It rides much more serenely. It’s very, very quiet. The seats, while offering no adjustable lumbar support, are worlds ahead of most optional sport seats in terms of long-distance comfort and provide a huge range of head restraint adjustment. Nevertheless, when given an opportunity, the SQ5-related Macan shows which VAG engineers better understand suspension geometry.

The Macan S isn’t that tall, and despite some true off-road credentials, it’s more of a hatchback than an SUV. Yet viewed as a small luxury crossover contender, the Macan’s planted stance and remarkable agility and lack of body roll are a real shock to the system. Its steering isn’t full of feel, but it’s pleasantly heavy and very direct. Nothing will upset the Macan mid-corner.

Setting aside its quickness and disarming agility, the Macan’s brakes may be the car’s most confidence-inspiring facet. Rotors measure 350mm at the front and 330mm out back. Their outright stopping force is modulated by a progressive pedal where the amount of pressure applied by your foot is perfectly matched by the rate of deceleration. No competitor brakes like this, and no competitor feels like this under braking, either.

Though not terribly special to look at outside, particularly without the 21-inch, $2555 Sport Classics, the Macan does have a few special exterior bits. It does look like a Porsche, and the taillights create a beautiful signature when lit up.

Inside, the Macan is certainly unusual for drivers accustomed to very upright designs. Most buttons and switches are laid out along the trajectory of your relaxed right arm. There are times when, with the shifter in drive and the armrest pushed forward, it’s awkward to access lesser-used buttons. The climate controls also bring your eyes very far down from the road. The whole system is full of touch points, unlike the flush non-buttons in a Cadillac SRX, for example, and if a week isn’t long enough to memorize placements, two should be sufficient. The rear wiper button isn’t properly positioned on the wiper stalk, thereby constantly squirting wiper juice all over the tailgate when all I called for was a solitary swipe, and cruise control functions aren’t intuitive. But the overall sensation in the Macan’s interior, even a moderately optioned one like this, isn’t of a car that is dependent on features to create the aura of luxury. Rather, it’s the low-slung seating position, plentiful glass, thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel, and centre-mounted tachometer that produce a driver-centric cabin.

In other words, it feels like a Porsche. The Macan S also drives like a Porsche, and it is thus entirely authentic, like it or not. Perhaps the biggest disappointment isn’t found in the bottom corner of the Macan S’s window sticker but in the way the Porsche makes other otherwise lovely small luxury crossovers feel. How is it that the Macan S both rides more comfortably and handles more effectively and proceeds down the road with more enthusiasm?

TTAC 2015 Porsche Macan S cargoNo, the fact that the Macan tarnishes other small luxury crossovers is not its biggest disappointment. If utility is a prime concern, the Porsche Macan is a big league flop. The cargo area’s flexibility was apparent when, with seats folded, I loaded 224 diapers, four litres of juice, two litres of milk, one cucumber, one dish rack, two pounds of goat yogourt, four bags of chips, and a king size memory foam mattress (still in its box, naturally) with plenty of room to spare. That’s why a Macan driver doesn’t want an M3 sedan. (Also, we drove up a rocky path to the top of Creignish Mountain, which we wouldn’t have done in any rear-drive vehicle, certainly one with less than six inches of ground clearance.)

But with the seats up, the Macan S offers less than 18 cubic feet of cargo capacity, less than half the space behind the seats of a Honda CR-V, which is six inches shorter than the Macan from bumper to bumper. Our Baby Jogger Summit X3 looks tiny in the back of a Subaru Outback; it eats up most of the floor space in the Macan.

That’s a real-world concern, but it’s an issue which may well disappear after a test drive. It certainly did for me after spending a week in this Porsche Canada car. Dynamically, the Macan is in a league of its own, and Porsche has priced it as such. And remember, this is a Macan without performance-oriented rubber, without the ceramic composite brakes, electronically controlled dampers, air suspension, torque vectoring, launch control, a Sport Plus button, or a 400-horsepower 3.6L twin-turbo.

Therefore, this may well be the least impressive Macan, and it’s ridiculously impressive.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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57 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2015 Porsche Macan S...”


  • avatar
    kosmo

    I’ve logged 600 miles in the passenger seat of one of these (driving cheerfully offered, but I fear it would start the car shopping process).

    I don’t disagree with a word you wrote. The engine in particular is wonderful. As you noted, it does not have the instant hammer-like lower rpm torque of many turbo sixes, instead pulling gloriously and cheerfully higher and higher, almost like a higher power version of a BMW NA inline 6.

    Crazy pricing, though, but I guess you have to pay, if you want to play.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    “and a king size memory foam mattress”

    Did you mean mattress topper? An actual mattress would be pretty impressive, even still rolled up.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      And one cucumber ? I’m glad he didn’t hit wrong cucumber ejection button behind the steering wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Mattress. Box is visible in the picture. 10 inches thick. Expands rapidly and permanently when removed from the box.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Those mattresses come vacuum packed.

      Completely car unrelated but funny story. When I got mine, I laid it out on the floor of the guest room to inflate – it takes a couple days. My lady partner-in-crime comes over, spies the new mattress, and proceeds to belly-flop onto it before I could say anything. She might as well have belly-flopped onto the hardwood floor…

      As for the Macan – obviously the Porsche of CUVs, and priced as such. Exactly what I expected it to be.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      I have a king size Sleep Number bed and I guarantee I can disassemble it as well as the base unit and fit it in the Macan easily.

  • avatar
    319583076

    One cucumber?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This may well be a better car than the low end lemons coming from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but the fact is that it looks like $35K and will be associated with the German brands’ race to the bottom.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I’m a fan of this car (SUV). The are very common here in Northern Chicago along with their bigger brother. This car is significantly more attractive in person than in pictures. Focusing on utility is missing the point of this car. It wouldn’t be a big concern of mine. Numbers speak volumes here and Porsche is backordered on these.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    So Cayanne- trunkspace= Macan?

    I never got why people bought these trunk-less SUVs, or why they’re made. Is it that hard to engineer some decent cargo space into the thing?

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      When you drive solo all the time, 18Cuft is plenty for a WholeFoods bag. Bigger SUV trunks just makes all the quinoa and organic anti wrinkle cream fly around in the back.

      And that one time in your life when you need top carry two cases of Pellegrino at the same time, you fold down the rear seats and have almost as much cargo room as a Fit.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      If you are young and single and want something that drives like a Porsche, looks pretty nice but can carry a big screen tv or an office chair every once in awhile when you need it then these vehicles are more than enough. You decide you need to put mulch in your garden beds and need 10 bags, no problem. Carry your girlfriend and her dog on a trip for the weekend, no problem.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      There are lots of people that prefer the size of a small SUV, but don’t need the extra utility of a large vehicle. Better price point, better gas mileage, more nimble, etc. My neighbor was convienced that he needed a Yukon for the cargo and utility. A year later, he commented that he needed that extra space once and was happy be bought the Yukon for it. Seemed a silly arguement to me, but I decided not to comment.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        Silly argument indeed. The Macan has the 40/20/40 folding rear seat, which allows you to carry passengers and longer cargo at the same time. Volvo has had this for a long time and now the Germans are starting to realize that this is something worth doing. The new C-Class sedan has it standard (and BMW just started putting it into the 3-series sedans), the GLK still has the 60/40 folding seat, the Q5 and X3 are 40/20/40.

        I have two kids and thus two car seats. The Japanese and American manufacturers expect me to choose between cargo and kids. That’s not how families work these days. The other day we went over to Home Depot to get a few 6 foot long 1×10 boards for a project. We just folded down the middle section of the rear seat, slid them in, and all four of use drove home in comfort. The Macan can do this too. GM thinks you should buy a Yukon if you want to do something crazy like that… To each their own, I guess.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Thinking of the Macan as a premium hatchback for avid drivers makes a lot of sense, given its small cargo and rear seat space. Bur does practicality matter to an avid driver (the Audi R8 has virtually no trunk space)? So far, Porsche’s selling every Macan it can build (4+ month wait for ’em in Portland OR as of today).

    • 0 avatar
      ccd1

      I think it is an all too common misconception with OEMs that sports cars do not need to be at all practical. My view is that there are lots of people like me who do the majority of their driving while running errands and want to be entertained in the process. That means that a car has to have enough storage space for running errands and be entertaining at legal speeds. For me, that resulted in my purchasing the Audi TT-RS. But there are other answers as well if you need storage space but not a back seat: C7 Vette, and if you don’t golf the Cayman or 911 (Yes, clubs will fit in the 911, but it is awkward to say the least and I doubt anyone spends much time fitting them in and out of their 911 on a regular basis).

  • avatar
    probert

    Get a Kia Sportage sx – you’ll have as much fun in a better looking car, and you can donate the 50 large you save (because you’re going to get those options aren’t you) to a worthy cause.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Incomprehensible it may be to mere aspies stuck with a logical brain; but this is one of the cars most often cross shopped with a Tesla.

    “Honey, should we go for the environmentally conscious, save the planet and be high tech look; or are we more the Euro-suave discriminating diver type? Since we’re talking about flying to Chamonix this winter, don’t you think the awd Porsche is more us….”

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Two years ago, due the needs of a grandparent, I traded my Cayman S for loaded Q5 that was $10k less that this Macan S. When Porsche announced the Macan, I thought I’d regret not waiting for the Macan. As I live in a real world where damn few folks track SUVs, I don’t reget the decision to purchase the Q5 which has been absolutely trouble free and routinely returns 24/29 city/hwy while I never get left at a traffic light. And to sate my need for fun, I picked up an ’07 Mini Cooper S that’s simply a hoot to drive.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Is the supply limited right now for Canada Timothy? Haven’t seen many around Halifax. I know the mothers at my son’s private school are dying to get their hands on this CUV.
    I saw one on the 102 hwy about three weeks or so, but that is it. It looks much bigger than a Tiguan and a bit bigger than the Q5. I had to do a double take to make sure it isn’t a Cayenne.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    “Our tester costs $58,145 (U.S. market pricing including destination) and it still doesn’t have cooled seats, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless go, blind spot monitoring, sunshades, a proper hi-lux audio system, or any of Porsche’s performance options.”

    I thought that Porches whole thing was about charging you money for REMOVING options?

  • avatar
    ex007

    I’ve had my Macan Turbo for 10 weeks now and have logged 2,600+ miles. Zero regrets. With the seats up there is still plenty of space for my golf clubs, several pairs of golf shoes and other gear. Also, it’s easy for our DD8 to get in/out. So the utility quotient works for us. And it puts a smile on my face every time I get in it. An absolute blast to drive, quiet as a bank vault at 80 mph, and, as a former C4 owner, it really does handle like a Porsche. Unlike the Cayenne, there is no truck-like experience.

    Yes, it’s pricey. It is a Porsche, after all. But I haven’t worried about or given any thought to the expense since I bought it. Would absolutely buy one again. But, then, I’ve never accidentally turned on the heated steering wheel. :-)

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Instagramming these pictures to make them look old doesn’t do any favors. Why’d you mess with ’em?

  • avatar
    Slicker

    This is based on the Audi Q5 architecture, right? So does that mean the engine is out in front of the trans-axle and the vehicle has a front weight bias too?

    *Edit*

    Looked up weight distribution for Macan and its 57.2/42.8 vs. 54.5/45.5 for the Q5 3.0T (both per Edmunds). By way of comparison, the Porsche isn’t that far off from the Volvo XC60 in terms of weight distribution – 59/41. Yet none of the reviews seem to ding the Porsche for understeer. Was Porsche able to tune it out?

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Yes. Between torque vectoring, suspension set up, stability management, active suspension management, etc. The Macan is also wider, longer and lower than the Q5. Wheelbase is about the only number that is the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Slicker

        “The Macan is also wider, longer and lower than the Q5”

        Interesting. Looks like Volkswagen AG took an Honda/Acura approach to this model. You might even say Macan is to Q5 as RDX is to CRV. Sort of . . .

        • 0 avatar
          energetik9

          Not really and yeah…sort of. The RDX/CRV was an Acura upgrade after production. the Macan/Audi platform was a joint venture. Dual channels of development versus upscaling.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    As with all their vehicles, Porsche uses high quality fixed multi-piston calipers over generously sized rotors. That’s how you get great braking feel and great stopping power. I had to spend a whole bunch more money to add that to my M3, but Porsche does it right the first time.

  • avatar
    hachee

    Your last two words says it all – “ridiculously impressive”. It’s easy to have doubts and to be cynical about Porsches, thinking that they’re just overpriced (Audi Q5s in the case of the Macan). Whether it’s “worth the money” or not is entirely a personal decision, but if you want the superior product and experience, you get what you pay for. I drove a Macan Turbo at a Porsche Roadshow event a few months ago, on a track, no holding back. From the moment you sit in the seat, you know it’s special, and from there on out – accelerating, handling, and yes, crazy braking, it’s ridiculously impressive. For those who complain about the size or cargo room, it’s just not the car for you.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    The lack of space compared to the CRV is probably a consequence of the longitudinal powertrain layout. Not necessarily fair to compare the two. The packaging of the CR-V might make the Macan look ridiculous, but that has always been an advantage of transverse, FWD layouts.

    Is the 18 cubit ft with the seats up measured to the ceiling or the cargo cover? If it’s to the cargo cover, that isn’t bad. An 18 cubic ft trunk on a sedan would be considered enormous.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    “Our tester costs $58,145 (U.S. market pricing including destination)”.

    So you’re quoting US Funds if the vehicle was purchased in the United States? Do I have that right?

    Could you tell us what the Canadian MSRP is? Why is Porsche Canada pricing always a mystery to Canadian TTAC contributors??

  • avatar

    Wanna whine about cargo space, take a bigger, undoubtedly cheaper SUV from another brand. Think of the Macan as a more practical and roomier 2+2 than the 911. The emphasis is on “sports”, rather than “utility”.

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