Autotrader was recently invited to drive the updated 2019 Porsche Macan S in the Scottish Highlands before the vehicle was revealed to the general public. Piloting the vibrant blue midsize performance SUV against the golden fall backdrop of the northern U.K. was nothing short of a rush, and here are some of my takeaways from the experience.
Despite not seeing much change from a power standpoint, the Macan S gets a new engine for 2019. Still a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, the new powerplant now uses a single turbocharger as opposed to the twin-turbo setup of the previous model. The updated Macan S makes 348 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, which are increases of 8 hp and 15 lb-ft. The quick-shifting 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission remains. Fuel economy for the updated Macan S has yet to be released at the time of this writing, but for reference, the 2018 model carried ratings of 17 miles per gallon in the city, 23 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in combined driving.
From a performance standpoint, the new engine results in 0.1 second improvement to the vehicle’s 0-to-60 mile per hour time, which Porsche now clocks at 5.1 seconds, or 4.9 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Additional changes to the Macan lineup for 2019 include widened front air dams, a wraparound rear taillight, a new 10.9-in infotainment system and a few new colors, including Miami Blue, featured here.
The Macan S offers all of the performance options you’d expect from a Porsche. For starters, it offers staggered tires — that is, the rear tires are wider than the front tires, an unusual feature in the segment. Available is an active dampening system referred to as Porsche Active Suspension Management, along with air suspension capable of raising or lowering the vehicle by a few inches for different driving scenarios. As usual, carbon ceramic brakes are on the option sheet, as is a torque vectoring system, an adjustable sport exhaust system and a variety of optional wheel and trim choices.
Perhaps the Macan’s most exciting performance option is the Sport Chrono package, which adds a dashboard-mounted stopwatch and an additional control dial to the steering wheel. The dial lets you switch between normal, Sport and Sport Plus drive modes, along with a driver-configurable Individual mode. At the center of the dial is a new Sport Response button, which gives a 20-second burst of the Macan’s most aggressive engine and transmission settings — great for passing on the highway, and in other scenarios where maximum performance is in order. Launch control is also offered with the Sport Chrono package.
Driving the Macan S was a blast. It’s remarkable that a compact SUV can feel so nimble and agile. It’s also hard to believe that there are two additional trim levels positioned above the S in the Macan lineup, as the raucous acceleration and athletic handling of the S are seemingly just about all that anyone could ask for. Our drive deep into the Scottish Highlands took us through some rather dramatic terrain, including an area featured in the 2012 Bond film, "Skyfall." The route consisted mainly of windy 2-lane roads and involved quick, roller coaster-esque elevation changes. The act of passing on a 2-lane road can already be a hair-raising affair. Factor in that I had the Macan S’s full array of performance features at my disposal, including that video game like Sport Response button, and it was positively exhilarating. The vehicle had seemingly endless power, and I never found myself wanting more from the 3.0-liter V6 or the PDK dual-clutch transmission.
Given how narrow the roads were in some of the towns through which we drove, it wasn’t hard to appreciate the vehicle’s dialed in steering feel and athletic suspension. Playing with the buttons on the center console enabled one to adjust the Macan’s ride height, suspension dampening, exhaust note, throttle response and transmission behavior, tailoring the vehicle to a variety of scenarios.
Altogether, the Macan S is an exhilarating ride, and the updated model picks up right where the outgoing Macan left off, improving on a few key areas while preserving the vehicle’s sports car DNA
Expect the updated 2019 Porsche Macan S to go on sale in the U.S. this summer.
To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.
Chris O’Neill grew up in the Rust Belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for awhile, helping Germans design cars for Americans. Follow him on Instagram: @MountainWestCarSpotter.