2014 Porsche Macan Turbo Review

Porsche’s crossover flies fast but stumbles as a true son of the crest
Imthishan Giado

2014 Porsche Macan

The Porsche Macan wants to be King Kong of the crossover segment. For the young amongst you, King Kong is a film from 1933 (ie, pre-internet) in which an abnormally large ape is captured by a foolhardy filmmaker and brought back to New York City, whereupon it promptly escapes and terrorises the greatest city on Earth before being brought down in a tragic hail of bullets. It is a seminal piece of fantasy, a landmark moment in special effects and one of the greatest monster movies of all time.

The Macan is not the first in this segment, but like the 2005 remake by Peter Jackson, it dearly wants to be biggest, baddest crossover on the block. With that famed crest on the nose, it kinda of has to be – buyers expect nothing less than exceptional from anything wearing the Porsche badge.

2014 Porsche Macan

So what do you get? For the moment, the range consists of the most powerful crossovers on the planet: a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 335bhp, 339lb ft Macan S and the even quicker 395bhp 406lb ft 3.6-litre twin-blown V6 Macan Turbo. Both are damned rapid: the S does 0-100kph in 5.4 seconds on its way to a 255kph top speed, while the Turbo smashes through the 4 second barrier (4.8 seconds to be Germanically precise) and a 267kph top whack. Both engines put power through typically precise 7-speed PDK gearboxes to permanent all wheel drive systems.

Porsche won’t shy away from admitting that the Macan is based on Audi Q5 underpinnings, albeit massively tweaked – two third of the components are different – for Stuttgart’s sportier application. What they neglected to mention is that the Macan resembles nothing less than a shrunken Cayenne; you’ll be rubbing your eyes constantly trying to figure out if you’ve bought its bigger brother.

2014 Porsche Macan

Not necessarily a bad thing, as the second-gen Cayenne is a considerably better looking car than its predecessor, even if it has since been beaten in the local popularity stakes by the omnipresent Range Rover Sport. The Macan borrows the Cayenne’s huge air intakes on the front end and adds ‘sideblades’ from the 918 Spyder (all customisable to Sir’s individual colour request) and finishes it off with LED tail lamps inspired by the super-coupe. Nerd fact: the clamshell bonnet is the largest single piece of aluminium being produced by a car maker today – a fact guaranteed to get your girlfriend excited.

2014 Porsche Macan


If the exterior is Pure Cayenne, the interior is pure Generic Porsche. Mix the centre spar of the Panamera, a 918-style steering wheel and a 911-dash clock and you have your Macan dash. The new steering wheel is actually very good to hold and use – proper paddles, thanks! – but the central switchgear is the usual scattered mess, a million identically-sized buttons surrounding the phallic sprouting PDK gear knob.

Fit and finish is predictably excellent from this Leipzig-built crossover and comfort levels are good. Unusually for this segment, the cowl is set quite low, to set you in that sportscar mood; drop your seat down and you could almost think you’re in a mini-911. Almost. And then you look behind you and see back seats, and a 500-litre boot.

2014 Porsche Macan

Speaking of back seats, being based on a Q5 has its useful moments as the rear pews can comfortably seat two normal-sized adults. Two, not three and the luggage space is only acceptable. But as this is intended for Active! Thirtysomethings! most will find it sufficient.

Do I need to bore you with the list of toys? Everything you could possibly want is available, from active cruise control to Porsche Torque Vectoring. Beware: you can spec this thing up to insane 911-level prices with the list of interior customisations if you choose to slather every surface in leather. Typically Porsche, typically expensive.

2014 Porsche Macan

The Drive

On our brief launch drive in Ras Al Khaimah I got to sample the Macan S and Turbo offroad on a specially constructed course on a tiny strip of reclaimed peninsula. Porsche’s instructors at the event claimed that the Macan is more capable offroad than the Cayenne which I don’t doubt. That’s hardly saying much: neither is any sort of dune basher.

2014 Porsche Macan

Air suspension is standard on the Turbo and optional on the S; it lowers the Macan by 10mm at speed and raises by 40mm when Offroad mode is selected. In the soft stuff, regardless of the Macan you pick there’s plenty of grunt to power through the sand.

2014 Porsche Macan

Approach, breakover and departure angles were enough to easily pass the obstacle ramps and axle twisters Porsche had set up for us on this course and even have a little oversteer-y fun. It’s no Evoque but the Macan will tackle the beach OK and light excursions on flat sand; anything more and you’re looking at a big bill for those soft bumpers.

2014 Porsche Macan

No one buys a Porsche to go offroad, though – they buy them to go fast! To test the latter, we took a Macan Turbo up Jebel Jais road (which you’ll remember we discovered) and a Macan S on the downhill jaunt. Around town, the PDK makes the punting the Macan a civilised affair, slurring through the changes. The ride is firmer than the last Q5 I drove but plenty comfortable for most, if slightly firm at the tops of broken pavement. The electric steering is light – if lifeless in feel – and the handling is neutral with slight body roll if provoked.

2014 Porsche Macan
Despite the badging, the only actual difference between the S and the Turbo is the extra 600cc of displacement – they run the same suspension setups and wheel options. In normal driving, the difference between the two is not easily apparent. Overall the Turbo is faster, but both engines feel like they’re struggling to overcome the hefty curb weight of the Macan (1865kg S/1925kg Turbo). Both make hefty torque off near idle – 339lb ft vs 406 lb ft – but it’s still not enough to overcome the sensation of a momentary hesitation before the car gets going. The Turbo is quicker at the top end but most will be satisfied with the punch of the regular S.

2014 Porsche Macan

On our attack run up Jebel Jais, the dynamic abilities of the Macan become more visible. Pushed hard in full-hard-shock Sport Plus mode, the Turbo shreds its way up up the hill, though it still needs a few revs to extract its absolute best. Driven this way, the Macan is a capable corner carver, resolutely refusing understeer and keeping a planted, flat attitude. OK, you’re never forgetting that you’re in a SUV but it’s easily the best handler in the segment, faint praise though that may be. And the stoppers held up well to downhill abuse as well.

2014 Porsche Macan

Pity they haven’t cracked the steering. While the front wheels respond well to inputs and the weighting is nicely gauged in Sport, expect nothing in the way of feedback. It’s really frustrating to pilot a car with the Porsche badge and be confronted with steering this dead, this remote and unengaging. Is it fixable with some software? Maybe, but this is the car I have to review now and as it stands, it’s simply not good enough for a car that claims to be the ‘sportscar’ of the segment.

2014 Porsche Macan


I’ve avoided mention of the price thus far and with good reason – the Macan is bonkers priced. The 3.0-litre S starts at AED253,000 and the Turbo’s tag will make your eyes swivel – AED348,900.

The mind boggles. For AED254k you could have a V6 Cayenne – a Cayenne – and the fantastic V8 GTS I drove last year clocks in cheaper than the Macan Turbo at AED336,200! Granted you can easily add a 100k in options to either but you’re hopelessly naïve if you’re unaware that the same applies to Macan, a generally excellent car but one that’s simply too expensive. To put things into perspective, you need only spend 30k more and you can pick up a base Range Rover Sport. Pick up a base Macan with a few options and you can rationalise it as an alternative to the weedier-engined Evoque, but the Turbo? You’d have to have a Black AMEX card and nothing else to buy this month.

The Macan, then. Good car, good to drive, and hard to fault. But the King Kong of the crossover world? Not this decade.

2014 Porsche Macan – Specs

How much?
3.0 V6TT 335bhp AED253,000 ($68,880)
3.6 V6TT 395bhp AED348,900 ($94,990)
3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo, 335bhp @ 5500-6500pm, 339lb ft @ 1450-5000rpm
3.6-litre V6 twin-turbo, 394bhp @ 6000pm, 406lb ft @ 1350-4500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch (PDK), all-wheel drive
Fuel Economy:
S: 7.5L/100km
Turbo: 7.4L/100km
S: 0-100kph 5.4 seconds, Top speed 255kph
Turbo: 0-100kph 4.8 seconds, Top speed 267kph
S: 1865kg
Turbo: 1925kg


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