Porsche Macan facelift: Driven

Here's a statistic to kick off with. For some idea of how important the Macan has become to Porsche in its few short years on sale in 2017, combined sales of the 911 (32,000), 718 (25,000, all models) and Panamera (28,000) were less than the Macan on its own, with a staggering 97,000. That was up two per cent on 2016, and represents very nearly 40 per cent of all Porsches sold globally. In the UK it's nearer to being one in two sales. So yeah, it's pretty significant in the Porsche hierarchy, despite its apparently junior billing and what might be thought of it...

Which presents something of a conundrum when it comes to the mid-life update. A drastic overhaul could well attract yet more customers to a burgeoning sector, but also risks alienating those existing buyers potentially contemplating a replacement. Conquest sales are high for the Macan, though that clearly shouldn't be at the expense of keeping existing ones. That said, a facelift perceived to be too minor may mean buyers will see little need to change to something new - be that from their current Macan, or a close competitor.

As can be seen from these pictures - and was already revealed back at Paris in October - this car is definitely still recognisably a Macan. Just with a rear light bar now, something that's back a la mode and which we are absolutely okay with. Note as well a new range of colours and wheels - should you want a Macan in Mamba Green with body-coloured 21-inch wheels, that is possible. Miami Blue is now on the regular options list, too.

If anything the most interesting point of this revision, at least from a PH perspective, is the availability of a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. The keen amongst you may remember this being offered pre-facelift, as a special-order unit; the EA888 turbo, familiar from a whole host of VW hot hatches, is now on regular price lists. A diesel, as should now be expected, is not.

For the entry Macan, the engine is making 245hp and 273lb ft, which is broadly comparable with every Leon Cupra, Octavia vRS and Golf GTI you care to mention. Only trouble here is, of course, the additional weight that comes with it being a bigger car: a 245hp Golf GTI Performance weighs 1,445kg with a driver as a five-door automatic. A 245hp Macan, obviously also equipped with five doors and in this case a PDK automatic, is 1,870kg.

Therefore despite Porsche's assorted engineering witchcraft, a peerless gearbox and good throttle response, there's no escaping a near half-tonne penalty over a middle-order hot hatch. While not exactly slow, neither does the 2.0-litre car ever really deliver performance befitting a Porsche, even one of the more affordable ones. Ignore that 6.7-second dash to 62mph - that says as much about the traction benefits of four-wheel drive, the short ratios and sharp changes.

Rather the feeling is of an engine that isn't struggling, but that also doesn't have the authority over proceedings that Porsche engines typically do - and should, arguably. Will prospective buyers care? Of course not, because it gets them into a Macan and the performance that is there is delivered in a smooth, refined, unobtrusive manner. And, perhaps just as crucially, without any hint of diesel clatter in earshot.

It takes all of about four hundred metres to discover that, if at all possible, the V6 Macan is the one to have. There's performance that more accurately matches its Porsche SUV billing, a much nicer noise and, just as validly, a more relaxed drive. There's just not the same need to consciously keep the car in the right gear for overtaking and so on, thanks to the additional power and torque.

Moreover, the larger engine feels a better match than the four-cylinder for what's always been the Macan's best asset - the way it drives. There's a breadth of talent and ability here, no doubt helped by the constant tinkering and tweaking that happens during a lifecycle, that means the Macan is still unmatched as a driver's car. Yes, Stelvio included, from memory at least. This isn't a car that will compel its owner to rise early on a Sunday just for a blast - this remains a 4x4, technically, regardless of all the technology thrown at it - but the Macan is without equal for clarity of response, damping quality, control weights, rolling refinement and more. It's just a really well sorted car to drive, more so than it ever has been - not downright thrilling, but imbued with a quality that Porsche does seem to do better than others.

On the launch there are a range of V6 cars available to drive: different wheels sizes, with or without air suspension, with or without torque vectoring and so on. Truth be told, on a narrow and congested test route, no one specification stood out as a Goldilocks configuration - the larger wheels on the passive suspension did introduce some rigidity to the ride, though otherwise there was little to differentiate the bunch. All were precise, agile and unflappable when the right bit of road presented itself, implying that options may well come down to personal preference and resale concerns as much as anything else. That's perhaps one to reassess in the UK though, given fleeting exposure to the cars here.

Thanks to the introduction of a Panamera-style Porsche Communication Management screen (now 10.9-inch, up from 7.2), the Macan interior is more modern and more appealing than it was. That said, the bizarre amalgamation of new screen with the old button fest is initially a little odd. Then after about 10 minutes it all seems to make sense from behind the (optional) GT Sport steering wheel. Finally, despite being an obvious point it feels worth saying that the Macan is still not the most accommodating SUV - something like an F-Pace would suit families better. But then that hasn't bothered 350,000 buyers so far...

That's the Macan in a nutshell, then. There are niggles, frustrations and flaws in some cases, though nothing significant enough to detract from its impressive showing and consequent popularity. Or perhaps it's the other way around. Whatever the case, everything from this drive of the refreshed car would suggest it will retain a place somewhere near the top of the sports SUV class, thanks to the same array of talents that put it there in the first place. It's a dynamically adept, high quality and plentifully fast Porsche SUV - with the right engine, that is - and so expect to see many thousands more (with that jazzy new light bar) on UK roads very soon.

2,997cc, V6 turbo
Power (hp): 354@5,400-6,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 354@1,360-4,800rpm
0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Top speed: 156mph
Weight: 1,795kg (EU, with driver)
MPG: 32.8 (NEDC)
CO2: 196g/km
Price: from £48,750

1,984cc, four-cyl turbo
Power (hp): 245@5,000-6,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 273@1,600-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 139mph
Weight: 1,870kg (EU, with driver)
MPG: 34.9 (NEDC)
CO2: 185g/km
Price: from £46,344

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (95) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Xfe 11 Dec 2018

    Delightful. Picking mine up in May.

  • Sport220 11 Dec 2018

    Almost 2 tonnes even with a 4 pot, FFS

    Looks 99% the same as the previous one too

  • unpc 11 Dec 2018

    Sport220 said:

    Looks 99% the same as the previous one too
    Was going to say the same thing. I want a job in their studio so I can sit there playing candy crush all day or whatever instead of working. Money for old rope.

  • Sport220 11 Dec 2018

    -> "Can we call it the new Macan if we put the Cayenne's tail lights in it?"

    -> "Brilliant!"

  • Brooking10 11 Dec 2018

    Xfe said:
    Delightful. Picking mine up in May.

    You will love it

    My Macan Turbo was probably the best all rounder I have ever owned.

    Enjoy smile

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