Thursday,25 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1315, (13 -19 October 2016)
Thursday,25 April, 2019
Issue 1315, (13 -19 October 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Exclusive test drive — the Porsche Macan 2017

The Macan family has touched down on the Egyptian runway featuring the Macan, Macan-S, Macan GTS and Macan Turbo. Mohamed Abdel-Razek sits behind the wheel

Launched in 2015, the Porsche Macan looked like it had something to say from the first glance. The German company had already built a strong reputation in building sport, hyper and lately super SUVs that can be driven everyday rather than being kept in closed garages for a weekend cruise.

In the same vein, the Macan came after the Cayenne had already succeeded in making a point in 2007, when it was first introduced. Breaking all the rules in the SUV sector, Porsche made it possible, through the Cayenne, for a sports car on a big platform lifted away from the ground, to be able to hit all desired terrains with ease, in enough space for all the family to share the fun, without sacrificing the breathtaking Porsche instinct to throw you back to your seat when you decide to put your foot down. Yes, the Macan is another game changer by Porsche categorised as a compact luxury sport utility vehicle, or the baby Cayenne if you like, but not literally a baby by any means.  

The DNA of the Macan comes from the 911, but in a utility vehicle without sacrificing any of the outstanding performance features like handling, acceleration, cornering, and braking. The car looks sporty and ready for a track-day experience despite the fact that it is an SUV, built on the same platform as the Audi Q5 but with completely different components and features. That was enough to convince the Al-Ahram Weekly team to test the car on a professional racing track in Al-Obour.


Technical performance
The tested car is the Macan, with the baseline engine, which is a 4 cylinder 2.0 Litre Turbo that produces an impressive 252 hp at rpm 5,000 - 6,800 1/min and 370nm of torque at rpm 1,600 - 4,500, bearing in mind that the idle rpm is at 1,000, which means you have the 370 nm of torque ready from the moment you decide to rest your foot on the gas pedal to go from 0 to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds and a top speed of up to 229 km/h.

The Macan S and GTS come with a more powerful engine, the 6 cylinder 3.0 Litre Twin Turbo, producing 340hp and 460nm for the Macan S, and 360hp and 500 nm for the GTS. The Macan Turbo gets a powerful 3.6 litre 6 cylinder engine that delivers a whopping 400hp and 550nm, enough to send it from 0 to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds. You can even ask for the performance package which adds 40 more horsepower to reduce the 4.8 seconds to 4.4, crazy for a compact SUV.

No wonder Porsches are always good in getting massive power out of small engines; the GT3 RS and the 911R are the best examples as they produce 500 hp out of a naturally aspirated 6 cylinder 4 litre engine. The strategy serves the car well as it reduces weight and improves handling as well as reduces fuel consumption and emissions. With this in mind, the idea of a 4 cylinder engine didn’t bother us before testing the Macan. Surely Porsche made a blend that was worth the effort.

Test drive
So it was time for the test drive. The car we had was brand new, with only 10 km on it. Accordingly, we made sure not to push hard so as not to anger the Porsche officials. This is not a 4 cylinder kind of performance, your first thought once you drive the Macan. Even the engine revs sound like it is a 6 cylinder. You hardly hear the tires squeal even when you are taking the corner flat out. No understeering or oversteering at all. For many reasons the easiest of them all is the all-wheel drive system, but that’s not all. The tested car came with the impressive PDK gear-box shared among all the Macan lines. It is simply an automated manual with dual clutch system that shifts between gears in a fraction of a second, getting the most out of the car’s performance. Then comes the Porsche Traction Management (PTM) which regulates the drive force between the front and rear axles through sensors all over the car that work in harmony with the gearbox and braking system. You can ask for the Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) for more stability and response on higher speeds, as it works on managing the torque among the four tyres, preventing understeering and oversteering at sharp turns or sudden manoeuvres. The steering was very nice and precise, interacting with the terrain and the speed of the car. All credit to the Power steering Plus system. The ride was comfortable, thanks to the double wishbone suspension in the front, and in the rear the self tracking trapezoidal link suspension system. You can also add the air suspension that includes the Porsche Active Suspension management allowing you to adjust the height of the car between three levels according to the terrain. It’s as if you are transforming the car from a Cayenne to a 911 with a press of a button. If you wish to poke your Porscha for more power, there is the optional Sport Chrono package which tunes your car for more power and adds an attractive stopwatch with an analogue and a digital display in the cockpit. The Chrono package transforms the car even much more than the sport button. A sport-plus button is added to the dash that extends the rev limiter, hardens the suspension, makes the steering more direct, adjusts the height level, makes the car more responsive, shortens the PDK gears, and adds the launch control.

Then comes the active aerodynamic system inspired by Porsche racing experience. The engineers did not only rely on the shape of the vehicle to make the Macan slip through the air, but there are also the electronically controlled baffles in the front grills, which closes the front grill if the car does not need to be cooled, a fact which reduces drag dramatically, adding more “natural” power, and increasing efficiency. The baffles also close during a cold start to warm the engine quickly and reduce fuel consumption. What a piece of “space” technology that comes as standard.

General exterior/interior impressions
Looking at the exterior, the front end is a typical Porscha, with the matte black grill and slim sharp lines and edges. The car is so appealing you’re probably a Porscha fan already. Moving to the side of the car, the side blades carry on the sporty feeling the Porscha engineers want to convince you with. Nothing is clumsy, nothing is vulgar to the eyes. Obviously the German designer made sure to keep the car aerodynamically slim and sporty as possible with everything in the right place with the right size. Moving to the rear end, and the favourite angle of the car, are the 3D tail lamps which look likely to have been inspired by the Porsche 918. With the quad tip dual exhaust system and the matte black air diffuser, Porscha seems to be taking things a bit serious regarding linking performance with the exterior design in favour of a sporty standing look.

Stepping in the Macan gives you an automatic feeling that you are in a slim yet comfortable brand suit made with stitched alcantara leather seats.

The centre console extends to the top liner with many buttons as if you are in a fighter jet from Top Gun. The 7-inch touch screen in the dash in addition to the driver focused 4.8 inch screen embedded in the instrument panel, keeps you connected to the vehicle entertainment system as well as all the driving information. You just connect your smartphone via Bluetooth to the Porsche Communication Management (PCM), and you can then fully control all the media and music without referring to your phone. You can also connect your iPhone to the USB port in the smartphone storage compartment to use your mobile apps through the touch screen. The standard stereo comes with 11 speakers producing 235 watts of power, which sounded very good when tested. You can even go for the Bose system with 14 speakers producing 545 watts of power in addition to a subwoofer to vibrate your kids in the back seat. Or you can ask for the Burmester sound system with 16 speakers producing 1,000 watts of power plus a 300-watt subwoofer, enough to host a party in your car.

Real-life situation
Porsche gives you the luxury to personalise your Macan starting from the performance to the exterior and also the interior, with many options. But nothing comes for free. The Macan baseline costs around LE1,100,000, which seems a good price if you are fancy enough to buy a car today with costs going up unrealistically high. You can find BMWs and Mercs much more expensive than the Macan or at least with close price tags. So since the difference is no longer that much, car buyers should consider something to show-off. But if you wish to get the top of the range Macan Turbo with the performance package and all the options and customisations Porsche offers, you will have to squeeze your pockets and drain your bank account.

So if you want to be unique driving a Porsche with highly appreciated technology everywhere and that comes as standard, then you will find the cheapest version of the Macan the right car to get. But if you are a fan of power, space and many standard options that come for free as standard, you will find that there are many better options available in the market like the BMW X5 4.4 litre V8 Twin Turbo that produces 445 hp and comes with many standard options included in its LE1,250,000 price tag. So in a nutshell, the Macan is so impressive, with no concerns whatsoever regarding looks, quality and driving experience, that it is a very appealing choice when it comes to buying a unique luxury vehicle.

But adding more options will make it heavy on the mind of an Egyptian businessman who likes to get the most out of his investment. So here comes the conflict: you buy a Porsche so you put a leg in the territory of the world’s finest car brands, sacrificing options or money. Or you stick to the Egyptian tradition of luxury cars and get yourself a “high end” model from BMW or a Mercedes, which at the end of the day you won’t find it all over the streets. Doesn’t seem  tto be a tough call.

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