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There's nothing debasing about a base Porsche Macan

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Article by Ryan Carignan
Photos by Rob Sass

When my Porsche Cayman S was in for some work (including an odd rust spot on the front-left of the roof) the dealership service manager asked if I wanted a Macan or a Panamera as my loaner. For me the choice was obvious, give me the Macan. I’ve driven the Panamera, and it is lovely, but I like small cars and the 2018 Macan, being 14 inches shorter, is my “Goldilocks” pick in the Porsche four-door lineup. Little did I know I’d be spending nearly a month with it.

My loaner was equipped with most of the right options, heated and ventilated seats, Bose sound system with Apple CarPlay, and parking sensors and cameras. It also has lane departure warning and Adaptive Cruise Control, but I really didn’t use either feature. I tried to use the cruise control but found the ACC feature to be too fussy in busy traffic and too conservative in its following distance even at the closest setting for my taste.

I was not thrilled with the response from the 252-horsepower four-cylinder engine at first, but as the immediate comparison to my Cayman waned, and I learned more about how the engine operated, I grew to like it. My experience with boosted four cylinders is mixed at best, but the good ones are quite enjoyable once you know where they are the happiest. For me, the Macan’s happy place is with Sport mode engaged, which sharpens throttle response and generally keeps the transmission a gear or two lower than in Normal mode. My standard start-up procedure has now become start the vehicle, turn on Sport mode.

If I forget or neglect to enter Sport mode, I am reminded by a weak throttle response when trying to gently accelerate to pass a distracted driver on the highway. In Normal mode, a gentle, one-inch depression of the throttle does little to change the Macan’s speed, as the turbo four is off boost and in too high a gear. In Sport mode, that same action is met with smooth, strong power delivery, and if you keep pressing the right pedal, maybe a downshift or two to make sure you get your desired result. In other words, the way a Porsche should drive.

The ride quality of the base Macan is excellent, wind noise is low but not non-existent. The suspension does an adequate job of handling all surfaces without feeling too tight or too soft. One of the most noticeable aspects for me was how the Macan masks speed. On my normal highway commute, I always know about how fast I’m going based on the engine and exhaust noise from my Cayman. In the Macan, it was easy to be traveling at a much higher rate of speed than I perceived; a potentially expensive characteristic if you’re not paying attention to the speedometer. Once I realized this, it was easy to maintain the proper speed, but it did take a bit of getting used to.

My time with the Macan left me knowing I would be happy to have one. While I do wish for a bit more power, there are plenty of solutions to that in the aftermarket. I maintain a first-generation Macan Sport Edition would be my sweet spot for the base model due to the plethora of options it includes. But anyway you slice it, the Macan is a winner. It is no mystery why it is the best-selling model in Porsche’s lineup, regardless of trim level. It makes a great daily driver, and when optioned appropriately, is all things a Porsche should be; fast, reliable, sporty, and most of all, fun.


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