Porsche purists were no doubt foaming at the mouth in rage the other week, when the Stuttgart-based car maker revealed just how many SUVs it flogged last year. SUVs account for a whopping 70 per cent of Porsche’s sales, and the Macan alone outsells the 911, 718 Boxster/Cayman and Panamera combined, with over 95,000 of the things sold in 2016. So what’s all the fuss about?
The fact that appetite for these kinds of vehicles is at an all time high certainly helps, but keen to know exactly what the appeal is of Porsche’s best selling car, I recently got myself behind the wheel of a Macan GTS for a week. The conclusion? It’s really damn good.
Peel away the Macan’s skin, and you’ll find a platform borrowed from the previous-generation Audi Q5. But it doesn’t feel anything like an Audi - this feels like a Porsche through and through.
I’m not just talking about the nicely sculpted seats, the classic Porsche dials and switchgear and even the smell of the thing - no, I’m also talking about the way it drives. First up, the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 is a fantastically angry thing.
The first time I put my foot down with my significant other onboard, she described the raspy sound it makes as “scary”. She’s on to something: it sounds mean as hell, and is very strong from 2500rpm all the way up to the 6800rpm redline. The PDK automatic gearbox is brutally fast at swapping cogs too, and is always on the ball when left to its own devices.
The black and white figures suggest a 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds, but I suspect it’s a tad quicker than that. Porsche is - after all - known for being conservative with its performance figures. Top speed meanwhile is 159mph.
Anyone can make a crossover go quick in a straight line, of course, but few can make one feel quite like the Macan in the corners. The steering is well weighted, accurate and natural-feeling, the turn in sharper than should be possible for something on stilts, and the body roll is kept well in check. You can make it lean, but that takes some doing - plus the more you push, the more playful the Macan’s rear gets. Lovely.
It’s all helped by the fact the GTS gets a tweaked version of Porsche Active Suspension Management - comprised of adaptive dampers and lower springs - as standard. You get a little more power too, with the V6 churning out a useful 355bhp, a 20bhp increase over the Macan S. The rest of the GTS upgrades are trim related, involving various black bits and pieces plus lightly smoked front and rear light clusters.
What I like most about the Macan - and the Cayenne for that matter - is Porsche could probably get away without putting so much effort into getting the handling right. Much more could be carried over from the Audi side of things, and I’m sure many Macan buyers wouldn’t care nor notice.
That’s what makes the GTS a particularly niche version of the Macan with its even closer focus on handling and driveability, but even away from the relatively uncommon pursuit of lobbing an SUV around a country road, there’s still a lot to like.
It looks quite handsome for an SUV. Everything inside is well laid out, even if there are a few too many buttons on the centre console. The sat nav is one of the easiest out there to use. Most importantly it’s comfortable: the seats are brilliant, and the ride smooth, partly thanks to all that suspension travel soaking up all the associated bumpy, pot-holed nastiness that comes with driving on British roads.
There are downsides, of course. Despite the nice layout, the Macan’s cabin is starting to feel a little old, especially after being in the space age Panamera Turbo recently. The V6 has a heinous thirst: you’ll only just scrape double figures during committed driving, and the best I could get out of it on a gentle motorway run was 28mpg. You can see why the diesel Macans are popular.
That’s far from the only financial pain you’ll feel buying one of these: you’ll need £55,188 hidden away for the GTS, before you tick the options. And there are at least a few must-haves that aren’t standard equipment.
So it’s not cheap, but there’s a lot more going on here than just the badge. If it irks you that this is Porsche’s best-selling car, take solace in the fact it’s a jolly good one, and just about the best posh crossover out there.