If you've done some research on the all-new 2015 Porsche Macan crossover, you probably already know that it's based on the Audi Q5. You may also have noticed that certain critics find this quite troubling. Without actually coming out and saying it, they seem to be insinuating that the Macan isn't a real Porsche. "Just get the Q5," they'll tell you, "and buy a Boxster with the money you save."
Now, we love the idea of an extra Boxster as much as the next publication, but it's time to set the record straight. The Macan is far more than just a rebadged Q5; in fact, Porsche revamped the Audi's platform from nose to tail, and the result is a uniquely capable crossover that doesn't look or feel anything like its corporate cousin. Could the somewhat-space-challenged Macan be more practical? Sure, but if you harp on the modest cargo and back-seat measurements, you're missing the point. In truth, the 2015 Macan is less of a crossover competitor than it is a handy hatchback for would-be Cayman or 911 buyers who need four doors. Viewed in this light, there is indeed no substitute for Porsche's latest product.
What's New for 2015?
The Macan is an all-new compact luxury crossover.
What We Like
Impressive performance both on and off the road; unmistakable Porsche styling; sumptuous interior; customization options galore
What We Don't
Humble cargo and rear-passenger space; huge price jump from base S model to Turbo
The all-wheel-drive Macan comes with PDK (Porsche's 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission) and a choice of two engines -- one for each trim level. The base Macan S features a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 340 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque. The Macan Turbo steps up to a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 that churns out an even 400 hp and 406 lb-ft.
As you might expect in light of all that power, fuel economy is not a Macan strong suit. Both engines are rated at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Porsche Macan S is offered in two trim levels: S and Turbo.
The Macan S ($50,895) comes standard with perks such as 19-inch wheels, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a power tailgate, a multifunction sport steering wheel with shift paddles, dual-zone automatic climate control, partial leather upholstery with synthetic suede accents, power front seats with memory, a 7-in touchscreen, and an 11-speaker sound system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Macan Turbo ($73,295) ups the ante with the exclusive 3.6-liter engine, Turbo-specific wheels and other exterior design features, an adaptive suspension, a synthetic suede headliner, heated front seats with additional power adjustments, a navigation system (embedded in the 7-in touchscreen), and a 14-speaker Bose sound system.
Many of the Turbo's added features are available on the base Macan, and both trims are eligible for an astounding array of options. There are wheels with a diameter as big as 21 in, an air suspension system, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (which subtly manipulates the rear brakes in corners for more precise handling), a panoramic sunroof, rear climate controls, parking sensors, a rearview camera, the Sport Chrono package (including a stopwatch, launch control and additional adjustable drive settings). And that's just a sampling. Porsche can also customize the Macan's interior for you with trim and color combinations seemingly limited only by your imagination.
In terms of cargo capacity, the Macan pays the price for its sleek, low-profile shape relative to the upright Q5. The area behind the rear seatbacks measures a relatively paltry 17.7 cu ft., though maximum capacity with those seatbacks folded down is a more respectable 53 cu ft.
Towing capacity, on the other hand, is downright impressive at 4,409 pounds when properly equipped. Try finding that kind of versatility in another compact luxury crossover.
The 2015 Macan is equipped with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, front- and rear-side airbags, front-knee airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags. Optional safety features include a collision-mitigation system with automatic braking, a blind spot monitoring system, lane-keeping assist, a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors.
Behind the Wheel
When you first sit down in the Macan's driver seat, you'll be struck by how low-slung and sporty this crossover feels. Whereas most crossovers make you feel like you're sitting in a high chair, the Macan is like a sport coupe with a little extra ride height. Porsche's signature button-heavy center console rises high between the seats for a cockpitlike effect, and the materials are uniformly high-grade. Even the base Macan S with no options fits this description, so keep in mind that you don't need to add anything in order to get the full experience. The only letdown is the back seat, which is adequate by default but shrinks in a hurry when there are long-legged folks up front.
On the road, the Macan cruises smoothly and quietly over most surfaces, and the confidence it imparts at high speeds is pure Porsche. We've driven various Macans on multiple racetracks. Although it can plow a bit (i.e., push wide of the intended target) in fast corners if Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus isn't specified, it's still easily one of the most athletic crossovers on the road. The optional air suspension adds compliance and adjustability, but frankly, the standard suspension setup is so good that we'd be tempted to save our money. We've also had occasion to drive a Macan up a steep, rocky hill with lots of ditches and loose gravel, and while we're sure that most Macan owners won't attempt similar feats, we can report that the all-wheel-drive system and automatic speed-controlled descent system made quick work of this intimidating terrain.
Under the hood, the question is whether you can be satisfied with less than the best. Naturally, the Turbo is the faster vehicle, sprinting to 60 miles per hour in an estimated 4.6 seconds (4.4 seconds with the Sport Chrono package's launch control) versus 5.2 seconds for the Macan S (5.0 seconds with Sport Chrono). For some, that makes it a no-brainer upgrade. But remember, the Turbo costs an eye-watering $22,000 more than the S, and in real-world passing and merging situations, the twin-turbo S feels plenty strong. It's down to personal preference, of course, but we can't imagine that most drivers would be disappointed by the S model's comparatively weaker motor. Either way, the PDK transmission is flawless as usual, whether you're trundling through traffic or making haste on your favorite back road.
Other Cars to Consider
Audi SQ5 -- This special high-performance version of the Q5 gives the Macan S a run for its money thanks to a supercharged 354-hp V6, and it has more room inside than the Porsche.
BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo -- The 3 Series GT hatchback isn't as pretty as the Macan, but it boasts a spacious back seat and a higher maximum cargo capacity.
Infiniti QX70 -- Don't let the QX70's advancing age turn you off; this is still a very capable luxury crossover with plenty of power and style to spare.
The Macan Turbo is undeniably alluring, but we think you get more Macan for your money with the base S. Go light on the options, and you'll have an awesome all-around package for under $60,000.