One of the highlights of driving in Germany is the autobahn. German federal roads are quite strict when it comes to speed limits, but head out on to the autobahn and basically you can go as fast as you want. And here we are joining the A20 at Niendorf with technically no speed limit between ourselves and Hamburg, some 88 kilometers away. At the end of the throttle is a 354 horsepower, single turbo V6, which with the Sport Chrono Package, enables the Macan S to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds, while topping out at 254 km/h. However, this is Germany, in March, so conditions for our drive are cold, wet and windy. Even so, we accelerate out onto the busy A20 and join the ‘fast lane’. Incredibly, a lot of unrestricted autobahn is two lane, so today, it’s us on the left and the trucks, busses and family hatches on the left.
A short, open stretch of tarmac allows us to open up the S for the first time and as you would expect in a 354 horsepower Porsche, acceleration is relentless. It’s all very safe and surefooted though; even in full ‘maximum attack’, you’re always in full control of the little SUV. The Macan doesn’t smack you in the back when you floor the throttle, instead it just builds constantly and in Sport + mode, with the exhaust valves open it certainly sounds like a Porsche, with the V6 taking on its own impressive impersonation of the famous flat-6 growl.
Sadly, as the road ahead opens up, so do the black clouds above and we head into a Hollywoodesque squall of driving rain and unpredictable crosswinds – not ideal conditions for a high-speed run. Instead I let the Macan find its own sweet spot. Cars have a point in top gear where the engine’s comfortably cruising on a wave of peak torque and here we are in the S, settling down at an indicated 160 km/h. It might not seem that fast, but considering the fact that we’re basically powering through a storm, that’s pretty impressive. It’s hard to believe that this is the same car manufacturer that once built the 930 Turbo ‘widowmaker’. Familiarity would make the Macan even brisker, as there’s clearly plenty of power left in reserve, but for now, hovering around 160 km/h is fast enough.
Coming off the autobahn and heading into a wet and cold German countryside we start playing with the steering wheel mounted Sport Chrono Package MODE dial. This unassuming wheel governs the Macan’s character, changing from comfy school run, to snarling drag racer in a twist of the wrist. O-for-ordinary is at the 12-o clock position. Here, the seven speed PDK gearbox stays in 6thor 7thgear; the suspension softens and the valve in the exhaust closes for a hushed ride. It’s the aforementioned Grandma mode, making the Macan as easy to drive as a small family hatchback.
Turn it 90 degrees to the right and the dial hits the Sport setting. I never use this mode in any of Porsche’s models, as I just flick from O to Sport+, cutting out the middleman. But leave it in Sport and the chassis stiffens, the throttle response is sharpened, the exhaust valve opens and the PDK is knocked down a couple of cogs. Fast and safe. Simple.
In Sport+ mode, the suspension and throttle responses are tightened even further and the revs rise as the PDK drops down to the ideal gear for acceleration. Another ‘fun’ part of the Sport Chrono Package is the ‘emergency start’ mode. Here, you have genuine launch control, which is as straightforward as pressing the brake pedal with your left foot, floor the accelerator (the engine will sit at 5,000rpm), then all you need to do is release the brake and you shoot forward like the proverbial scalded tiger.
Handling wise, with an already tight chassis tweaked by Porsche’s engineers, the Macan is unflappable on normal roads. No matter what you do to it, the all wheel drive system combined with 265/40x21s up front and 295/35x 21s at the back simply sticks to the road. In normal driving conditions, it feels like you’re using only 20% of the Macan’s abilities, and you’re only ever going to find its limit on a racetrack.
Whereas the Porsche Cayenne may share garge space with a 911, the Macan will most likely be a big brother to a Cayman. The sport crossover, with its dominant ride height and offroad capabilities makes it the ideal daily driver, especially so for the Middle East. It’s spacious, comfortable and surefooted – a mini, luxury SUV that reflects its original codename of Cajun (Cayenne Junior). If you’re in the market for a vehicle that can do the school run as easy as it can lap Yas Marina Circuit, then the 2019 Porsche Macan should be on your SUV list.
|Macan S Specs|
|Engine||3.0 ltr, 6 cyl, turbo|
|Drive||active all-wheel drive|
|0-100 km/h||5.1 sec|
|Max speed||254 km/h|