PGA Cars, the importer of Porsche vehicles in the country, recently hosted the Philippine leg of the Porsche World Road Show (PWRS) at the FIA-certified Clark International Speedway in Pampanga. The PWRS is an exclusive event where customers can sample all the Porsche offerings in a controlled racing environment.
The Porsche holds the PWRS in only 10 countries worldwide and the Philippines is fortunate enough to be only one of two countries in Asia to host the event.
Aside from bringing in their all-new models, Porsche also flew-in world renonwned instructors to teach present and would-be Porsche customers high-performance driving so they can safely and better enjoy what the marque has to offer.
The Porsche models that were at my disposal included the new 911/911s, Cayman, Macan, Panamera, Cayenne and Boxster. Strangely enough, it was the Porsche Macan that I was able to fully test.
Launched just last year, the Macan had been on the cards for years to join the Cayenne in its SUV line-up. The Cayenne was introduced in 2002 and its financial success has turned Porsche from niche sports car maker into an industry heavyweight.
The Macan, which is considered as the “sports car of the compact SUV segment” is available in four flavors: first is the “Macan,” which is powered by a 233-bhp 2.0-liter petrol four-pot; the Macan S (340-horsepower V6); Macan S Diesel (258-hp V6); and the 3.6-liter Macan Turbo that is only available through special order.
For a start, it is sometimes hard to distinguish the Macan from the Cayenne—except for the size (the Macan is a tad smaller). The 911-style cues are more prominent in the design of the Macan when compared with the Cayenne or Panamera. A visual highlight are the side blades that set a sporty accent – much like the 918 Spyder. They make the proportions of the doors appear narrower and the flanks seem much sleeker and sportier. At the rear, the classic Porsche sports car design reveals itself: slender at the top and widening into broad shoulders above the rear wheels – a homage to the 911. The overall effect is to make the Macan look low, wide and thus intimate with the road – like any genuine Porsche. After all, a muscle-toned body is meant to be admired from the rear as well as the front.
With massive wheel arches that can house up to 21-inch rims – with the rear wheels being much larger than the those in the front, the Macan looks suitably dynamic and is, in effect, primarily a rear-driver. Nice!
The dashboard architecture is very plush, rich and luxurious. It also comprises a rising, button-packed lower center console and a foreshortened center stack with a satellite navigation screen and audio controls—very similar to the Panamera saloon. The switchgear is chunky and nicely finished. The leathers are attractive and the fascia is very handsomely trimmed. But being free of the oversized grab handles and drivetrain management controls of the Cayenne makes the Macan’s interior seem quite discreet. Make no mistake – this is an upmarket interior.
As you settle inside, you will notice that you sit farther above the car’s shoulder line and transmission tunnel but lower overall than you would in a Cayenne. The impression is that of a resting driving position with arms and legs outstretched and backside, thighs and back amply supported by an excellent sports seat. The Porsche Macan’s all-around visibility is great except where the wide B-pillars intrude. The pedals and steering wheel are well placed.
It isn’t the most practical compact SUV among the finest, though. The Macan has a more intimate feeling with all the options the dealers can throw at you and quite a bit less rugged looking than you might expect. But if you’re considering changing or adding another good-sized four-door or five-door family car or just another 4×4, you’re unlikely to find the Macan particularly spacious.
I’ll try and keep it short and precise. For a nearly two-ton compact cross-over, it is remarkable how poised, tight, balanced and enjoyable the Macan is to drive – given the oh, too short stint. There is a cutting edge to its dynamic make-up that no other SUV on the market can approach, never mind equal. And you need a really good rear-drive sports saloon or two-seater to beat it.
The entry-level four-cylinder 233-bhp 2.0-liter petrol engine doesn’t lose its composure but as you build up speed, the little four pot would lose steam at higher revs even with the brilliant seven-speed PDK gearbox. The Macan’s sporty handling is even more striking than the outright performance. It is a very comfortable, well-mannered machine that you’d happily use every day of the year. Plus, I will let you in on a little secret – only certain parts of Asia can get these units and the Philippines is one of them.
Driving off onto a short straight, the 3.0-liter V6 twin turbo diesel with 258 hp and 580 Newton-meters of torque blew me away as well – knowing that I get a P29 pesos per-liter kind of way. It didn’t feel like I was in a diesel SUV as it easily kept up with Macan S petrol.
The engine of the Macan S Diesel has a torquey output. Able to hit 62 miles per hour (99.2 kilometers per hour) in 6.3 seconds and with a whopping 580 Nm of torque on offer, it feels by far like the most sporting of the various diesel-engined compact SUVs on offer at the moment.
The diesel variant feels very refined and quick. It’s also very smooth, with Porsche’s seven-speed PDK gearbox working wonders under the bonnet. Perhaps it’s not quite to the “sports car” level that Porsche’s marketing material would have you believe, but it’s still very good indeed.
The Macan S (petrol) is an impressive SUV. With a 0-62 mph time of 5.4 seconds, a top speed of 158 mph (252 kph) and the ability to return 31.4 miles per gallon on a combined cycle, the Macan S feels rapid enough to drive without burning a hole through your wallet.
But for all our familiarity with the experience, it is still difficult not to marvel at the irresistible physicality involved in propelling two tons of Macan Turbo from a standing start to a quarter mile down the road in less time than it takes to pour a pint.
The process is all the more impressive aboard the Macan Turbo, given that its new V6 develops about 100 bhp less than the Cayenne’s V8 – in a car not a whole heap lighter. The end result, though, is much the same. Using launch control on dry ground, the new model tears away from the line without hesitation, succumbing to negligible pitch and barely any loss of traction.
The endlessly repeatable conclusion is 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and 30-70 mph in 4.3seconds – making it marginally quicker than the much smaller, lighter Audi Q3 RS that been our compact SUV performance benchmark.
Unlike that car’s growling five-pot, the Macan’s bi-turbo engine is intentionally muted – more interested in classy go than show. At very low speeds, an overly sensitive (and yet typically weighty) throttle pedal means that there is a tendency for the car to surge from creep to crawl if your inputs are too aggressive, but beyond this point the short-stroke V6 rewards an enthusiastic right foot with an obvious zeal for higher revs.
Although its final peak is short of the last-gasp exuberance exhibited by Porsche’s horizontally opposed line-up, its keenness and low-end overdose of torque combine with the PDK gearbox to provide the kind of easy, endless grunt that makes the Macan seem not only handsomely amenable to pushing on but also often outright fast— a turbo through and through.
The 21-inch wheels and stiff-side-walled tires create some road roar and surface patter that you wouldn’t get in, say, a Range Rover Sport. Even so, the Macan is at all times an effective luxury SUV – albeit one quite unlike any that you’ve ever driven before.
Straight away, its weighty, direct feel-some steering confounds your expectations. Most premium 4x4s make life easy for the driver via a slower, lighter wheel that hides mass and makes maneuvering more manageable, but also communicates very little. The rim here is as precise as it is talkative, thanks to a chassis tune that keeps supreme control over any kind of body movement but also exhibits delicacy as well as firmness.
Porsche’s adaptively damped, steel-sprung sport suspension set-up gives you a choice of three ride settings, and both Comfort and Sport work well on the road. Bumps are absorbed quickly, quietly and with subtlety.
The car’s overriding sense of grip and composure on a cross-country road is never threatened – and it’s strong enough that you can drive this car as hard as you dare, almost anywhere, in total confidence. No matter the road, no matter your speed, really – the Macan just feels ready to go faster.