Porsche Macan. FIRST DRIVE

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So, let’s see if the Turbo can change things. We pull into the pit lane, and I jump into the Macan Turbo that was previously tootling around behind me. This sports a larger 3.6-litre biturbo V6, which pumps out 395bhp. And immediately, the difference is obvious. Even with all the Sport Chrono settings on normal, the response is sharper, the thrust forward more positive and the speeds greater, comparable to the way a Cayman feels at full acceleration. And with Sport Plus enabled, it’s genuinely fun to drive. The 911 in front of me is giving it some, wiggling around out of the bends, and I’m having little trouble keeping on his tail, keeping on edge with the rears driving the action. Meanwhile the S behind me is dropping further back. Both cars are equipped with Porsche’s excellent seven-speed PDK gearbox, which is as good as it’s always been – fast and smooth via the gear-mounted paddles. This particular Turbo has the optional carbon ceramic brakes fitted, which unlike the standard discs on the S hold up brilliantly to track abuse.

As we pull back into the pits, I reflect that I’ve just laughed out loud while driving a compact SUV. On a track. What madness is this? Realistically, very few owners are going to take a Macan on track, but it’s reassuring to know that if they do, the Turbo will keep them happy.

All this is very well, but the Macan’s main customers will expect it fulfil the more traditional roles of an SUV as well. I only get to take the Turbo on-road, and it’s not the most inspiring stretch to drive, but it gives an impression of what to expect. The ride is more than acceptable – the sporty bias means it’s not floaty like some of its rivals, and you can feel the texture of the road under you, but it’s perfectly comfortable, as is the seat – enclosed enough to stop you flying into the passenger’s lap during hard cornering, but loose enough not to feel completely cocooned. There is more wind noise than I’d like or expect, whirling and whistling around the front of the car, and there’s not enough engine and exhaust sound for my personal tastes either. For my money, Porsche should have beefed up the performance sounds into the cabin while simultaneously improving insulation against unwanted aural clutter.

Porsche Macan 7

But that’s a small quibble. The Macan is perfect for run-of-the-mill pootling on motorways and back roads – comfortable, luxurious inside, with all the modern gadgets you’d want or expect. And the Burmester stereo is excellent. Traffic and the local topography meant there weren’t any exciting stretches to attack, but having experienced it on track I’ll put money on it being more than capable.

As an added bonus, the Macan will handle light off-roading too. I’m not sure it’ll be able to compete with the Evoque on that front, due to the lack of a Terrain Response system, but after a brief blast around Porsche’s off-road facility – a disuse Soviet tank proving ground – I can confirm that it’ll drag you up steep hills, take you safely down them, and articulate over decent sized rocks well. For light dune bashing, it shouldn’t struggle too much.

This has been a taster of the Macan, and for the full verdict I’d want to get it back on home ground and spend a few days really getting to know it. But based on this single day, I’m very impressed. Porsche has managed to produce a compact SUV that fulfils the school-run, trip-to-the-shops and commuting needs of most customers, but that also has the dynamic capability that purists demand and that cars bearing the Stuttgart badge deserve. The S feels slightly underpowered to really excite when pushed hard, although its chassis impresses. The Turbo brings the grunt to make the Macan properly fun and involving. I like it far more than I ever expected to.

Porsche Macan S
Engine: V6 / 2997cc / biturbo
Power: 335bhp @ 5500-6500rpm
Torque: 339lb ft @ 1450-5000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed PDK, all-wheel drive
Front suspension: aluminium five-arm wishbone axle, coil springs, gas shock absorbers
Rear suspension: aluminium trapezoidal-wishbone axle, coil springs, gas shock absorbers
Brakes: Vented discs, 350mm front, 330mm rear
Wheels: 18 x 8in front, 18 x 9in rear
Tyres: 235/60 R18 front, 255/55 R18 rear
Weight (dry) 1865kg
0-100kph: 5.2sec (with Sport Chrono package)
Top speed: 254kph
Porsche Macan Turbo
Engine: V6 / 3604cc
Power: 395bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque: 406lb ft @ 1350-4500rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed PKD, all-wheel drive
Front suspension: aluminium five-arm wishbone axle, coil springs, gas shock absorbers
Rear suspension: aluminium trapezoidal-wishbone axle, coil springs, gas shock absorbers
Brakes: Vented discs, 360mm front, 356mm rear
Wheels: 19 x 8in front, 19 x 9in rear
Tyres: 235/55 R19 front, 255/50 R19 rear
Weight (dry) 1925kg
0-100kph: 4.6sec (with Sport Chrono package_
Top speed: 266kph

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