Powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 340 horsepower, with standard rear-biased all-wheel drive (with the rear wheels always delivering some power) and Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK transmission, the Macan S doesn’t slouch its way through any driving mode. Porsche promises 0-60 mph runs of 5.2 seconds, and a top speed of 156 mph, Add the Sport Chrono package for swifter transmission shifts and throttle tip-in, and the Macan S accelerates to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds–keen for a vehicle weighing in at more than 4,100 pounds. Like an SQ5, a bit quicker than the uprated turbo-six X3, possibly the upgraded ’15 Evoque, too.
We still see a bright future for the Macan S as the suburban shuttle of the now. It takes flight on the autobahn, building speed swiftly though not too silently–there’s a slight amount of wind noise at the tops of the doors, and the smaller-displacement turbo churns out a pleasant brap that can linger a little too long in the cabin. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission couldn’t be more in tune. There can’t be any dithering in the Macan’s electronic steering at autobahn speeds, and there isn’t–and when the Macan S is tapped out of its Sport mode, it’s truly relaxed. We’d still add on an infotainment package ($2,990) and a bundle with more premium features like a panoramic roof ($5,990), which puts the Macan S at $61,235.
And to goose its dynamic profile, we’d also add three-mode-adaptive shocks (a $1,360 package), a torque-vectoring system ($1,490), and the Sport Chrono package ($1,290). The adjustable dampers give the Macan more roll stiffness, while the torque-vectoring setup gives the rear wheels the ability to draw down torque on the inside wheel via an electronically controlled locking differential across the rear axle. Sport Chrono adds a lap timer to the gauges, a launch-control mode, and quicker execution for shifts and throttle inputs. All combine with Porsche Traction Management (PTM), which sends torque to the rear wheels at all times, and varies its torque split back to front, with the capability to send all of it to the fronts.
It handles beautifully, utterly predictable so long as the stability control stays on, steering with precision, landing shifts exactly when they’re called for, settling briskly into corners, powering out with a flicker of torque to the outside wheel. But as strong as it is, the Macan S struggles to keep pace with the Turbo on the 2.3-mile circuit at Leipzig. The Macan Turbo hustles through corners with the liquid flow of mercury. The adaptive dampers are standard; along with Sport Chrono and torque vectoring, an air-spring-and-damper suspension is an option ($2,745, including the adaptive shocks–keep reading). Of course, 60 extra horsepower makes a difference. The Macan Turbo pumps up displacement to 3.6 liters; its V-6 can launch to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, or 4.4 seconds with Sport Chrono. Top speed is 165 mph. The split between the S and the Turbo doesn’t even span out a full second, but the perception plays out a little differently.
If any SUV could be called unflappable, the Porsche Macan Turbo can. It blows by sluggish autobahn traffic in vast, Amtrak-sized chunks with a part-throttle foot on it. With plenty of wastegate noise and a deep-throated exhaust, the Macan Turbo drives as if it could light up the neatest, cleanest driving line from beneath the pavement. Yank it into a steep right-hander, and it falls into line, complying with a bare second of tire noise. Paddle down, and crank out of a corner, hopping curbs to save a hundredth of a second, and it resets itself, shuffling torque to the outside wheel, passing briefly through a mild stage of understeer. It’s really, really hard to overcook it inside its Sport+ modes–and even if you do, it takes just a brief pause to let it blur over your, er, oversights, and blaze on. Massive brakes are the picture of confidence–upsized a half-inch in front on Turbos to 14.2-inch rotors, and 1.2 inches to 14.0 inches in back, all with six-piston front calipers.
It’s almost impossible to get the Macan Turbo flustered, even if one of the great writers and drivers is pressing badge on your rear glass, while Porsche’s North American CEO is riding shotgun. Even if said Macan is riding on no-season treads chosen because February is a fickle thing. All Macans ride on standard 19-inch, 55-series tires–Michelin Latitude Tour HP all-season treads on our late-winter drive in eastern Germany, staggered 235/55 front, 255/50 rear. Wheels can be sized up to 21 inches, or downsized to an 18-inch lightweight design at no cost.
Comfortable, The Macan seats four adults just fine. The Porsche-class accommodations bring standard eight-way power front seats, standard leather upholstery, and an option for 18-way front seats in the Macan S (they’re standard on the Turbo). The 18-way seats are fantastic, with high side bolsters, thick lumbar bladders, and heating with available ventilation. The controls wall off driver from front passenger, with the two-dozen-plus buttons on the console flagrantly defying the trend to touchscreen all the things. Rear-seat head and knee room are where the Macan fades in the Cayenne comparisons. The bottom cushion is low and short, still ample for adults to use–but adult knees will make contact with the front seatbacks holding six-footers, and the sunroof puts the headliner to the heads of big back-seaters.
The utility part of the equation is executed well. Doors have deep bottle pockets, and the center console’s more generous than in many German SUVs. The Macan’s rear bench splits so that a slim middle section folds independently to create an armrest. All three sections fold down to expand the cargo space and to render the Macan a two-seater, in true Porsche style. With the rear seat up, there’s 17.7 cubic feet of space; seats folded flat, it’s 53 cubic feet. There’s storage below the cargo floor, the tailgate’s power-operated, and with the air suspension, the Macan has a low mode for easier cargo loading. Your basic Macan S sports a fair and balanced amount of gear for its $50,295 pricetag–all-wheel drive, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, leather seat surfaces, power heated front seats, a power tailgate. From that starting point–on through the $73,295 Macan Turbo–it’s a tilt-a-whirl ride through Porsche’s impressively listicled options smorgasboard. You can have adaptive or air suspensions, off-road kit, carbon-fiber trim, a multitude of leathers and suedes, a fantastic 16-speaker Burmester sound system, mobile connectivity, navigation, and 20-inch (or 18-inch or, heck, 21-inch) wheels and summer tires, if you want them.