Vague Memories One Year After Driving the Porsche Macan Turbo


This pandemic has made time feel like a vague suggestion. Days morph into months in an instant, things that used to get done in hours take weeks, and due dates slide into the ether. It happens to the best of us.

Last May, Porsche dropped off the updated Macan Turbo for us to spend a little time getting used to it. I planned to immediately let you know how it was. Then suddenly it was 2021 and the Macan never made it to our website. A shame, because it was a peach.

porsche macan turbo

Porsche

Outside of some minor design tweaks, like the single rear light bar, the biggest update to the Macan is the engine, now shared with a few Porsche and Audi models. The new 2.9 liter engine loses a chunk of displacement when compared to the 3.6 liter unit in the old model, but power is up to 434 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. It’s a wonderful engine, with more-than-ample power that easily makes it one of the quickest small SUVs on the market. The only gripe is that in this platform sharing world, Porsche had to dip into the VW Group parts bin for it, rather than design its own unit like it did with the original Macan. That’s mainly because of politics. Since the Macan was unveiled, VW tasked Audi with V-6 engine development and Porsche with V-8s (and, of course, flat-sixes). This is not a knock on the Audi V-6, which is a triumph, but continuous sharing reduces unique offerings in each class.

That V-6 is paired with Porsche telepathic PDK gearbox, which is still the finest dual-clutch unit on the market, the sort of transmission that makes you wonder why any automaker would settle for an automatic when you know that something this good can be engineered. It’s sharp and ultra-responsive, and no matter the application it seems happiest in manual mode, if you’re willing to pull the paddles each time you need a shift. I know I am.

porsche macan turbo

Porsche

The really amazing thing about the Macan is something that hasn’t changed since its debut: it’s great to drive. Without a doubt it is the best driving crossover on the market, and probably the only one that can be described as fun without caveats. The suspension doesn’t punish, but isn’t a bouncy, distant mess. The steering is spectacularly well judged, not artificially heavy and with just the right amount of feedback for a commute or a back road run. That steering paired with that gearbox, drive modes that actually make a quantifiable difference in how the thing gets down a road, a torque vectoring rear diff, and that wonderful engine makes it the perfect one car solution.

That’s what I recall thinking the entire time I had it last year. It got my dog to the vet quickly for an unexpected visit (for those worried, he was fine) and it was perfect for a long drive to try to forget about everything happening in the world around us, if even for a few brief hours. On the tight backroads around my New Jersey home, the Macan was agile and masked both its height and weight well. The torque vectoring rear diff helped there, making cornering extra sharp. The response from the V-6 was never lacking, either. The overall feel was distinctly more hot hatch than crossover. Extremely welcome.

porsche macan turbo

Porsche

It really makes you think about every other crossover on the market. While the Macan’s platform is technically closely related to the last generation Audi Q5, Porsche was unhappy with the building blocks it was provided and heavily modified nearly everything. It shows, because the old Q5 felt like a mess compared to the Macan. And while the current Q5 and SQ5 are leagues better on their new platform, the Macan is soldiering on with those original underpinnings. And it’s still impressive, more impressive than brand new models engineered specifically to best it. A true achievement for something that’s been on the market for six years.

The next Macan is supposed to go all-electric, part of the VW Group’s push to reduce emissions. That likely means this Macan will stay on the market alongside the new model to allow for a gentle transition to our electrified future. A few more updates, particularly to the interior, will go a long way to keep the Macan at the top of the class for years to come.

macan turbo

Porsche

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