The Porsche Macan has now been around since 2014 with numerous updates, more features, and lower-spec variants.
But despite plenty of time for the competition to catch up, it remains one of the best compact and sporty SUVs on the market today.
The 2021 Porsche Macan range includes four different variants: the standard car simply called Macan (tested here), the Macan S, the Macan GTS, and the Macan Turbo.
The GTS has historically been the pick of the bunch, and if you wanted to just have the absolute best you’d have no choice but to go with the Macan Turbo.
To be fair, when we collected our review car there was a sense this base model Macan just wouldn’t do. That a four-cylinder Porsche is no Porsche at all, even in SUV form.
Nonetheless, after a week of using it as a daily family vehicle and taking it for a few runs up twisty mountainous roads, our tune and tack changed considerably, to the point that we’d now recommend it as the pick of the three in the range for the absolute majority of buyers. Why is that?
The Porsche Macan recently had a small price hike for the 2021 model year, with prices rising by $2500 to $84,300 before on-road costs for the base car. The Macan S now comes in at $100,800 before on-roads, and the Macan GTS sits at $112,300 before on-roads.
If you want the Macan Turbo you’ll have to fork out $145,200 before on-roads.
To be frank, not many Macans are sold without options, so you’ll likely be ticking a few of those expensive boxes. Consider that the base model Macan will cost around the high $90,000 mark before you get it on the road.
The base model Porsche Macan comes with a reasonable amount of standard equipment, but it misses out on some basic features as well. In the base-spec model you get pretty much what you’d expect from most modern cars, with highlights including:
- Three-zone automatic climate control (two front, one rear)
- Privacy glass
- 14-way electric comfort seats
- Parking sensors and reversing camera
- Lane departure warning
- A decent sports steering wheel
- Lots of USB-C chargers
- Automatic tailgate
- Porsche Connect infotainment system with satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay.
It misses out on basic features that we feel need to be included though, such as standard leather seats and autonomous emergency braking (AEB), both of which are standard on cars costing significantly less.
Beyond those basics you’ll probably need to tick a few more boxes to get it to your liking – the car you see here had an impressive $21,720 in options fitted.
The options list included 20-inch Macan Turbo Wheels ($5900), a panoramic roof ($3370), black leather package with partial leather trim ($3250), LED headlights with dynamic lighting ($2270), Jet Black metallic paint ($2000), tinted LED taillights ($1600), keyless entry and start ($1220), lane change assist ($1220), and power steering plus ($550).
2021 model year Macans will have keyless entry and blind-spot monitoring as standard features, but you will still need to pay about $2000 to get the safety pack that includes AEB, which we feel should very much be standard.
The Porsche Macan was tested in Europe by Euro NCAP in 2014 and received the full five-star safety rating.
With today’s super-stringent ANCAP standards, the Macan would need the AEB safety pack ticked to achieve a reasonable score and, since it doesn’t have pedestrian or cyclist detection, it would like miss out on the full five-star safety rating due to a technicality.
From an owner’s perspective, we would highly recommend ticking the AEB option as it will likely save you at least once in your ownership experience, and could help when it comes time to sell.
It’s also worth noting the car scores pretty high in the physical crash tests, with 88 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, and 60 per cent for pedestrian protection.
Our black-on-black-on-black test car really needed some colour and a bit of soul to it, and certainly wasn’t how we would spec our Porsche Macan. Nonetheless, the interior of the Macan, even in base spec, is nice, refined place to be.
It’s so stupidly quiet inside that you either have to put the windows down or turn on the stereo, otherwise it can almost be too eerie.
There are a few bits on the interior we would like to see improved, specifically the harder plastics used on the top of the doors, where we imagine drivers will rest their arm. It could certainly feel nicer than it currently does, which is disappointing considering how nice the pseudo-leather material feels on the dashboard – a location unlikely to ever be prodded.
The steering wheel is really nice to touch and hold but the paddle-shifters feel a little underwhelming – they aren’t plastic but they feel like it. Porsche makes some really awesome paddle shifters, but these definitely aren’t among them.
We would definitely advise optioning the partial leather interior, though it still doesn’t feel as soft and luxurious (or as real) as what you’ll find in Range Rover or Jaguar vehicles equipped with the Windsor leather option.
It’s ultimately a very functional interior. There’s reasonable storage and the USB-C ports will fast charge your smart phone, although wireless charging isn’t an option. We actually really like the infotainment system as the screen is mounted beautifully to the glass, there is zero reflection, and it works well in the bright Brisbane sun.
We did, however, take issue with the optional panoramic sunroof that came with a partially covered shade.
This might be okay in Melbourne, but on a sunny day in Queensland it simply allows in far more sunlight than you want (we know from experience) and heats up the interior while you’re parked, and also puts additional strain on the air-conditioning while driving.
Our advice would be to go for either a fully-covered shade, or consider ignoring the glass roof if you live in a sunnier location.
We found the front seats to be pretty accomodating for long drives yet bolstered enough to keep you in place when push comes to shove for a spirited drive.
As for the rear seats, they are very reasonable for head and leg room (this tester measures 180cm high) so long as you understand that this is really a four-seater. Yes, it can seat five when the need arises, but it’s simply not wide enough to accomodate that requirement comfortably.
The boot measures 488L and is wide enough to be pretty usable for suitcases and a set of golf clubs. Fold down the second row and that expands to a healthy 1503L.
Overall, it’s a pretty decent interior that would really pop in a nicer colour than just black.
Here is the contentious bit about the base model Porsche Macan: it has a four cylinder engine and realistically, it’s not really a Porsche engine. As you may know, Porsche is part of the Volkswagen Group and the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is part of that family.
Nonetheless, you get 185kW of power and 370Nm of torque. It will (Porsche claims) get you from 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds but we say it feels quicker than that. If you option the Sport Chrono package, that time is reduced to 6.5 seconds.
Most of that acceleration timing gain comes from launch control for the excellent seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission that is arguably the best in the business and has been for a very long time.
For an extra roughly $16,000 you can go up to the Porsche Macan S and, while you get a few other bits thrown in here and there, the primary upgrade is the 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine pumping out 260kW of power and 480Nm of torque, good for a 0-100km/h if 5.1 seconds with Sport Chrono.
Yes it’s a significant upgrade and for some a worthwhile spend, but we actually found the base engine more than good enough for a daily SUV worthy of the Porsche badge and the application required here.
A Porsche at heart.
It may have only four cylinders but the Macan is not lacking punch
The best feature of the Macan is the compliant ride. Even on the larger 20-inch Turbo wheels, the Macan rides beautifully, with excellent absorption and a comfortable yet sporty demeanour.
Porsche has historically been able to nail the perfect balance between comfort and dynamic handling when it comes to its suspension systems, and this is a perfect case in point.
While the engine may not be the best in its class, the chassis and ride dynamics make up for it with excellent cornering capability and impressive mechanical and tyre grip for when you really want to push the limits.
But when the kids need to be dropped at school, it’s as comfortable as a Range Rover Velar, one of its direct rivals.
We were impressed by how well it conquers twisty roads and how difficult it is to upset its balance. The handling is very neutral with a slight tendency for understeer at ten tenths, and if we had to nitpick we could say the steering doesn’t provide as much feedback as you’d expect from a Porsche, but only those driving a GT car will notice.
The Macan needs servicing every 15,000km or 12 months. The first, third, fifth, and seventh years are basic ($695), the second and sixth year are intermediate ($799), and the two major services are carried out in years four and eight ($2079) before the cycle repeats.
The Macan is backed by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
The Porsche Macan remains a benchmark in the segment for blending comfort and dynamics. Simply put, no other car does it like the Macan and that is the hallmark of what it means to own a Porsche.
There’s not much to dislike and we found even in this base spec, the Macan can really deliver the true sensation of owning a model of one of the most prestigious brands in the world.
For the price point, it definitely lives up to expectations.