The 2014 Audi Q5 and 2015 Porsche Macan are two of today's most appealing small luxury crossovers. Both offer handsome styling, excellent build quality and an enjoyable driving experience. Given how similar in size the two crossovers are -- and given Audi's close relationship with Porsche -- are the Q5 and the Macan merely the same vehicle with different styling? We have an in-depth explanation that covers exactly where the two crossovers differ and where they're the same.

Exterior

Regardless of what similarities the Q5 and Macan may share under the skin, the two crossovers boast highly different exterior styling. For one thing, the Q5 looks larger, but it's a deceptive appearance, as the Macan is actually the longer of the two crossovers. The Porsche's smaller appearance is largely due to its lower roofline and tapering rear end, which directly contrasts with the Q5's more utilitarian look.

Interior

In terms of interior quality, the Q5 and the Macan are roughly the same. Both crossovers boast well-built cabins with small panel gaps and well-fitting trim pieces. When it comes to interior size, the Macan and Q5 are also surprisingly similar; neither one offers a third-row seat, and they each tout roughly the same amount of passenger room in front and in back. The major cabin difference comes in the form of interior styling: While the Audi uses traditional Audi controls and a center-stack design that's borrowed from other Audi models, the Macan's center controls come from other Porsche models. Few, if any, switches or levers are shared, and just one second behind the wheel of either crossover will quickly reveal night-and-day differences.

Mechanicals

For those who think the Macan and Q5 are merely mechanical twins wearing different badges, you'll be surprised to learn that the two crossovers actually boast major differences under the skin. Firstly, the Macan offers two engines. The Macan S uses a 340-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V6, which is mated to Porsche's dual-clutch transmission. While that powertrain is shared with Audi's sporty SQ5 crossover, the Audi uses a traditional 8-speed automatic rather than Porsche's dual clutch. Meanwhile, the Macan Turbo uses a 400-hp 3.6-liter turbocharged V6 -- a powerplant that's not available in any Q5 model.

The Q5, on the other hand, primarily sticks to less powerful engines. Base models use a 220-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder, while the Q5 3.0T offers a 272-hp 3.0-liter supercharged V6, which is again a derivative of the Macan S's powerplant but one that doesn't offer the same dual-clutch transmission or anywhere near as much hp. The Q5 also comes in diesel or hybrid varieties; both are powerplants that aren't available for shoppers who choose the Macan.

Features

When you compare the equipment levels on the Q5 and the Macan, you'll quickly learn that the Q5 offers fairly traditional features and options, while the Macan's options list reads a lot more like a Porsche's. The Macan lets you order practically any feature you can think of, including some class-exclusive luxury goodies.

As an example, consider the front seats. Most Q5 models include 8-way power front seats, which is a fairly standard treatment in the compact-luxury-crossover world. In the Macan, however, you can upgrade to 14-way power seats, and you can even pick 18-way seats if you can't quite manage to get comfortable with the 14-way seats.

Another example: The Q5 boasts a few stereo options, including a high-end Bang & Olufsen sound system for true audiophiles, but the Macan takes things even further, offering an impressive Burmester sound system with a class-leading 16 speakers. If personalization is your thing, the Porsche also boasts a long list of upgradable trim pieces that come in a wide variety of colors and offer finishes ranging from aluminum to carbon fiber.

Technology

You'll also find that the technology is different between the Macan and the Q5. The Porsche's infotainment system, for instance, shares virtually nothing with Audi's Multi Media Interface system -- not even a controller. Audi's system is controlled through a lever on the center console, while the Macan uses a touchscreen system. Performance features, however, are surprisingly similar: Both the Macan and the sporty SQ5 offer similar adjustable settings that govern throttle response, steering feedback and transmission shifting.

Safety

Given their status as high-end crossovers with high-end price tags to match, both the Macan and Q5 offer a typically large array of standard safety features. For instance, both vehicles feature front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags, traction control and stability control in their list of standard equipment.

The Porsche has more overall features than the Audi, however, owing to its status as a newer vehicle. While the Q5 doesn't even offer a forward-collision alert system, the Macan's system will not only alert the driver to an impending collision but will help stop the car if necessary. The Macan also touts a lane-keeping-assistant feature, which will steer the crossover back into its lane if it starts to drift away, and an available automatic-high-beam feature, which can dim the high beams at night if it detects another vehicle approaching.

Conclusions

The 2015 Porsche Macan and 2014 Audi Q5 share a platform of underlying architecture and an engine -- and that's it. Otherwise, the two vehicles are not very similar. The Macan looks more aggressive, while the Audi is more utilitarian. The Macan has a traditionally Porsche interior, while the Q5's cabin is all Audi. The Macan has sportier engines and transmissions, while the Q5's powertrains focus more on fuel economy. And the Macan offers a wider range of features -- both personalization options and high-tech gadgets -- than the older Q5. The two crossovers may seem like they're the same size, and they may come from related manufacturers, but make no mistake: The Macan and Q5 are very different vehicles.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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