Engine and transmission
The entry level Porsche Macan uses a 2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine derived from the EA888 unit you'll find throughout much of the Volkswagen empire - and in cars like the Volkswagen Golf R. In this application it actually develops less power than in VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda's hot hatchbacks, with 249bhp at 5000rpm, but there's a meaty 273lb ft of torque available from 1500rpm so performance is still on a par with many vehicles in the hot hatchback class.
It's not the most inspiring of engines though, particularly for a car wearing the Porsche crest. The Macan S Diesel’s motor isn't either, but it feels more appropriate for an SUV, with its 2967cc spread among six cylinders. Also turbocharged, it puts 428lb ft to all four wheels and from only 1750rpm. Outright power is slightly higher than the 2-litre petrol, at 254bhp.
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Step up to the petrol Macan S and things get more interesting. Its 3-litre twin-turbo V6 produces 335bhp and 339lb ft of torque, the latter from 1450rpm. The engine here is a marked step above the four-cylinder in the entry-level car in performance, character and response, and feels much more suited to pushing the heavy Macan body along. And, more importantly, for fitting for a Porsche.
Within the Macan range the GTS is not, perhaps surprisingly, at the top of the tree. Instead it sits between the S and the Turbo, both in terms of price and power output, with its turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 dispensing 355bhp and 369lb ft of torque.
Really, though, it’s the Macan Turbo that delivers the most exhilarating performance. The 3.6-litre V6 twin-turbo, also found in the Cayenne GTS, makes 406lb ft of torque and 394bhp. With the Performance Package, you get 434bhp and 443lb ft of torque - more than enough for most, we suspect.
While none of the turbocharged engines have quite the character of one of Porsche’s naturally aspirated flat-sixes, it’s hard to argue with the figures they produce, particularly given the size and weight of the Macan (in Turbo guise it tips the scales at 2000kg on the dot).
It seems that the overlong gearing that blights the Boxster and Cayman is also present and (in)correct with the Macan. The 7-speed PDK works well enough, with fast and smooth shifting, but if you hang onto gears in manual mode you’re looking at high (and illegal) speeds in second and third.
There's no conventional manual transmission available, but that's hardly a hardship - despite the long gearing, the PDK is otherwise excellent, with near-instantaneous shifts when pulling the paddles, and smooth delivery of power the rest of the time.