Porsche’s Macan is quite an interesting car. For the most part many accuse Porsche of white labelling a platform from Audi, an extremely detailed and intricate rebranding exercise to make their mark in the junior SUV category and push sales. If you’re reading this and thought that was the case, I implore you to read on.
The Porsche Centre Brunei allowed us some time behind the wheel of the Macan, the first entry point to Porsche SUV ownership, the cars have been popular in Brunei Darussalam, as is the rest of the world and its easy to see why.
One of the reasons that maybe the case is because it feels nothing like an Audi Q5. Not that the Q5 isn’t a good product or anything of that sort. It’s important to make that initial distinction, Porsche and Audi only share about 30 per cent of the components in the Macan, and after that when you drive the two cars the differences are very plain to see.
The interior of the Porsche has always been one of the places where criticism would be aimed and while that maybe true 20 years ago that’s all changed now. Hop into the car and you’ll find that the interior trim is upmarket with the centre dash and driver controls having a nice feel to them. When you’re doing something as menial as turning on the air-conditioning and looking over to where you might operate the climate control you immediately get a sense that the spartan and driver focused feel from Porsche cabins of yesteryear are gone.
Not to say that it isn’t driver focused, the controls that’s required by the driver are all within easy reach, with buttons and toggles on the steering wheel that help change driver modes, access certain vehicle information in the instrument cluster, all that you would expect from a car that’s being marketed more as a super practical 911 alternative than it is a junior Cayenne.
Which is a question that the majority of people who come to purchase this car will arrive at, what exactly is the purpose of this vehicle? When the Cayenne was introduced, Porsche was accused of diluting the brand, straying away from their heritage of producing exciting cars that compete in motorsports.
16 years on from there, those people have been made to eat their words, with Porsche producing a 4×4 that had ticked all the boxes that Porsche wanted it to at the time. A stellar combination of driving dynamics, performance, and while it may not have been as luxurious as its contemporaries at the time, its successors have remedied that. At the same time it did all of these things and performs admirably off-road too!
The growth of the market for luxury SUVs has grown remarkably in that amount of time, so much so that another segment, where small or compact SUVs (I just call them junior cause they’re smaller) have arrived.
In that regard, the Porsche Macan is smaller than the Cayenne but doesn’t lack in the capability department. In fact, design wise, it seems the Macan hits a sweet spot in terms of proportions and pulls off the attempts to wear a 911 silhouette far better than its bigger stablemate. With a number of engines there’s a range of choices to suit even the most power hungry driver, but let me go into detail of what makes the Macan a ‘real’ Porsche and for some it would be the most practical of them all.
It’s a big thing to say, and before people start flipping tables and so incensed they need to grab their keyboard warrior hat to smash out vitriol about what I’ve just stated, lets look at why the Macan has won so many people over.
Although Porsche’s compact SUV is not as big as the Cayenne, and while it may sound like a compromise for those who want to transport things and people in comfort, the amount of load you can carry is enough for a whole lot of different day-to-day activities.
At the same time, while it’s able to do all these things, you can take it through its paces, and it wouldn’t miss a step. Despite being smaller, the Macan still has a considerable amount of bulk, but its suspension and driving ability manages to do away with it somehow when you throw the Macan at a corner.
The feeling is really one of surefootedness and aplomb. I doubt anyone would really pitch a Macan at considerably serious speeds through a series of turns, but should they have the will (and skill) to do so, the Macan will rise to the occasion. Think of it as being in a very big hatchback instead of a small SUV, and though no Macan will ever really see track time, it’s ability on the road is quite ahead of the pack.
That isn’t to say that there are no downsides to the Macan, some people might find that the car is too stiff, and for certain roads in Brunei there may be a level of intrusion in the ride that they aren’t used to, the small sacrifice that you pay for a certain kind of performance I would say.
Only the most cosseted, or pampered, drivers and passengers would really complain though, and there’s always the option of specifying the more sophisticated suspension that lets you adjust the height and ride of the Macan to suit your tastes.
So, we have a compact SUV, that is practical, but is not overtly huge, has an interior that is fine, a cracking drive, and looks good. Maybe the only thing that’s left to wrangle with is engine choice and price. Aside from that, we aren’t only talking about a great compact SUV but a great car that is deserving of all its praise and applause.