The Porsche Macan may be a smaller, cheaper version of the impressive Cayenne, but it's also lighter and better-looking. It's a compact luxury SUV with a penchant for taking corners and turning them into playgrounds in ways that the likes of the Audi Q5 wish they could. However, other alternatives like the BMW X3 have become more exciting to drive than ever before, so the driver's luxury crossover is not really a one-marque niche. With a 2.0-liter turbo-four and a pair of turbocharged V6s on offer, the Macan offers plenty of variety for the discerning driver with a family. The base model produces 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, while the mid-range 3.0-liter turbo V6 makes 348 hp and 354 lb-ft. The fastest model in the range is the GTS (we review the Porsche Macan Turbo separately) with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 generating 375 horses and 383 lb-ft of twist, but are powerful engines and great handling enough, or is the Macan just another niche-filler in the USA?
The new Porsche Macan sees almost no changes for 2021, but buyers will be pleased to know that the solitary change for the latest model is a convenient one: wireless Apple CarPlay is now standard. Sadly, this doesn't hide the fact that Android Auto is still not offered here.
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As fascinating as the engine and gearbox are, a Porsche needs to feel good and drive well to be worthy of that famous crest. On the whole, the Macan is brilliant, but we do have an issue with the steering system, as it's a touch lighter than you may expect. Nevertheless, it is still sharp and accurate, and to be fair, most buyers would want a lighter wheel - especially when this is the sort of vehicle that will rarely be fully exploited and will instead be found sitting in traffic or moving into a parking space outside the latest, trendiest nail salon. For those who use their SUVs all the time, you'll be glad to know that the suspension is just as well calibrated as the gearbox, with most bumps and imperfections on the road smoothed over and absorbed easily. Things get even better with the available adaptive air suspension system that makes it feel like you're in the lap of luxury. Despite this brilliantly compliant feeling, the Macan can do the twisty stuff with the best of them too, giving minimal lean in the corners and exhibiting a love for tight driving lines. Braking is excellent too, proving responsive and easy to modulate. For those who do intend to drive the Macan hard on regular occasions, the available ceramic composite brakes offer durability with the same level of good feel and sharp response as the regular rotors. In addition, the Macan can adapt its AWD system to climb slippery slopes and get through standing water well. As a comprehensive package that covers all the bases, there's little that comes close.
The Porsche Macan may be getting on in years, but it's still an attractive offering for those who aren't concerned with price and just want a compact luxury SUV that drives beautifully. The infotainment system is the single most glaring piece of evidence that proves by how much the Macan is outdated, but it's not so bad that you can't overlook it. As always, build quality is excellent, and even the base model accelerates well, while the full-fat GTS model really blows your hair back. Of course, even in that trim, you'll need to spend extra to get a really comprehensively equipped Macan, but if you have younger kids and don't need a wealth of space, the Macan is an excellent option that blends decent practicality with good off-road ability and stunning on-road performance. Few cars can get one thing right, so we'll appreciate the Macan for the multiple things it does brilliantly. And besides all the rational reasons why you should or shouldn't get one, who doesn't want to say that they can drop their kids off at school in a Porsche?
The Porsche Cayenne is the Macan's big brother and is the best choice for those with large families or those who require proper practicality from their SUVs. Thanks to its larger body, the Cayenne can give you as much as 60.3 cubic feet of volume to work with, and its higher weight rating means that it can tow far more than the Macan's 4,400-odd pounds with a rating of 7,700 lbs. In addition, it's been recently updated and comes with a minimum of 335 hp. Furthermore, you can have a stunning 12.3-inch digital driver display, and thanks to more interior space, it's a better companion for long journeys. However, with a base price well over 60 grand, it's the wrong choice for the budget-conscious. Still, if you're looking at a Porsche, you shouldn't be looking at price. Overall, it's the better vehicle and should be preferred by most buyers.
The Audi Q5 has just received a long-awaited facelift that brings its styling in line with the rest of Audi's offerings. Much like the Macan, the base model comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, but it's a different system that employs the use of a mild-hybrid setup to produce 261 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. As a result, it's quicker in comparison to the base Macan, achieving 0-60 mph in well under six seconds. It's also available with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, something that the Macan doesn't yet offer, and with a base price of under $45,000, it's a great way to have the premium look, impeccable build quality, and luxurious cabin of an upmarket German SUV without paying too much. We'll have to wait to drive it to be certain of its value, but on paper at least, the Macan needs an update to stay competitive.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Porsche Macan: