Porsche Macan review - ride and handling
Weight counts against ultimate agility, but the Macan’s chassis is one of the best of any SUV
When we wax on about how the SUV is the antithesis of automotive correctness, the reason why is very simple. They are taller, heavier, no more capable and less efficient than something with a similar interior accomodation and footprint. That’s why this midsize SUV, which is no more practical than an A4 Avant, weighs nearly 2000kg in most specs with little to no obvious advantage for the user.
So when a car manufacturer is able to traverse these road-blocks and create a genuinely engaging driving experience despite these setbacks, credit goes where credit is due. The Macan is one such SUV. At times, it feels not unlike a big hot hatch, doing a great job of delivering the interaction and performance that you’d normally expect in a smaller car.
This is largely helped by the Macan’s steering, which is a cut above the competition’s. With plenty of weight and, crucially, some proper feel coming back through the new 911-derived steering wheel – it almost feels out of place in a five-seat 4x4.
Rather than opting for a super-light steering set-up, which many SUVs use in an attempt to hide their weight, Porsche has instead engineered a system that offers resistance in their typical style, but never leaves the Macan feeling cumbersome or unwieldy. Combined with strong grip levels, you have the confidence to drive the Macan a lot harder than you would a conventional quick SUV.
Problems can arise, though, when the Macan simply can’t do any more to disguise its mass. That sharp front end and impressive traction can quickly melt into understeer should you overstep the Macan’s dynamic envelope.
As for the ride, the steel-sprung PASM set-up (standard on the GTS) is more than acceptable for daily driving when in its Comfort mode, but those expecting a softened-off luxury 4x4 may be slightly thrown by how much stiffer the Macan feels when in its Sport setting. In fact, if you want an SUV for wafting about in, you may find a Range Rover Velar an altogether more comfortable option.
The GTS is a particular highlight. It’s sharp – best driven in Sport+ virtually everywhere – and reactive, delivering decent feedback too through the weighty steering, and there’s a more interesting exhaust note with the occasional exhaust crackle. Given its weight, the clean steering response and impressive brake power and feel are particularly welcome. There’s even, if you’re brave and there’s plenty of space, the possibility for a little power oversteer.
There’s a sense that the car is ruthlessly bludgeoning the laws of physics into submission rather than deftly bending as a lighter car might, and we’d still opt for a lighter, lower car for genuine entertainment, but nonetheless it’s a deeply impressive display.