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Porsche Cayenne and Macan: Comparing the competition from Italy

Friday, October 11, 2019

Above, clockwise from top left: Porsche Macan Turbo (photo courtesy Porsche), Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid (photo courtesy Porsche), Maserati Levante Trofeo, Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrofoglio.

Article and photos by Rob Sass

At recent press event sponsored by the Washington Automotive Press Association, Porsche Panorama was able to spend some seat time in what are arguably the closest competitors to the Cayenne and Macan, namely the Maserati Levante and Alfa Romeo Stelvio.  Here are some quick impressions on how they compare:

Maserati Levante Trofeo

Fiat Chrysler America brought the highest-spec Levante to the event, the new Trofeo. The first impression was that for the top model, and one with a price of well over $160,000, the interior wasn’t all that impressive. The main instrument binnacles looked not unlike what Chevrolet did for the newest Camaro, the touchscreen on the infotainment system was of average size, and the user interface wasn’t terribly intuitive, but unlike Porsche, it did at least offer Android Auto in addition to Apple Carplay.

The signature Maserati analog dash chronograph is about half the size of what you’d get in a Cayenne, and is essentially a useless piece of decoration. On the plus side, the Ferrari-derived 3.8-liter 582-horsepower V8 is sweetness itself. Unlike Ferrari practice though, this engine doesn’t utilize a flat-plane crankshaft, so its exhaust note is less F1-like and more traditional V8 bass rumble.

The exhaust note is delicious, and the Levante Trofeo hustles to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds. For the sake of comparison, the more powerful Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid does it in 3.2 seconds. Steering is sharp, albeit slightly heavier than the Cayenne’s. Body motion in the Maserati doesn’t feel as well controlled either, and the shifting of the ZF-supplied conventional eight-speed automatic, while quite good, doesn’t match the slickness of eight-speed auto in the Cayenne. Style is a subjective thing, and the Levante Trofeo is one very good-looking crossover that just doesn’t quite match the capabilities of the similarly-priced top-of-the-line Cayenne.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrofoglio

In the Macan Turbo, Porsche claims to have fielded the sportiest vehicle in the segment. The Alfa Stelvio Q4 might have a word to say about that. Boasting 505 hp to the Macan Turbo’s 434 hp (both are twin-turbo V6s), the Stelvio is good for 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds to the Macan’s 4.3. For the record, that’s just two-tenths of a second slower than the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. The interior is an equally sporty place to be as well.

With round major gauges set deep into individual binnacles, and eyeball dash vents, it’s reminiscent of an old Alfa Spider. The infotainment touchscreen is amply sized, but like the Maserati, the user interface is not particularly intuitive. The seats, as is often the case with Italian cars, look better than they feel. Outside, the Stelvio is drop-dead gorgeous. It’s tough to compete with the Italians here. Performance is raucous, as one would expect from 505 hp. While we’d rather have wrung it out on the actual Stelvio Pass in the Alps, as opposed to a bucolic resort town on the Chesapeake Bay, handling feels sharp, although the steering feels a tad heavier and slower than the Macan’s.

There’s no doubting the Stelvio’s sporting bone fides, and in a straight line, it will get the better of the Macan, but there is the little matter of reliability. The Stelvio is related to the Giulia, long-term test examples of which have been reported to be plagued by reliability issues. And then there’s the matter of resale — the Macan holds up extraordinarily well, but the Stelvio? Base models are already plentiful in the mid-twenties. The five-year picture looks even more grim.

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