2019 Porsche Macan – The Sports Car of SUVs Gets Refreshed

words and photos by TOM STRONGMAN

Since its introduction in 2015, the Macan has been one of Porsche’s best-selling vehicles and it’s not hard to see why. It is a near-perfect blend of a sports sedan and a utility vehicle: fun, yet practical, never boring. Think of it as a sports car you can take to The Home Depot.

The Macan illustrates why midsize crossover-utility vehicles, as a class, keep growing in popularity and, in some cases, are pushing sedans out of the market. They ride and drive like a car, have an upright seating position, and deliver cargo versatility. What they cede to bigger SUVs (greater towing capacity and rugged off-road capability) is essentially moot because most buyers rarely do either.

The 2019 looks wider due to revised front air intakes and new front lights. The parking sensors have been relocated in the front fascia.

One of the most visible changes is found in back where a full-length light bar connects the taillights similar to the rest of the Porsche lineup. Twenty-one-inch wheels are now available for the first time and there are four new exterior colors, including the high-impact Miami Blue and Chalk, a soft, warm gray, straight from the 911 palette.

For this review I drove both the base Macan and the Macan S. The base model starts at $49,900 and has a turbocharged 2.0-liter fourcylinder that delivers 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The S begins at $58,600 and has a new 3.0-liter, single-turbo V-6 that is also used in the base Cayenne and Panamera. It develops 348 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. The engines are sourced from corporate cousin Audi but have been tuned with Porsche software. Both models use the same seven-speed PDK transmission that can be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel. Allwheel- drive is standard.

While the Macan S is one second quicker to 60 miles per hour, the base four-cylinder actually feels a tad more responsive in stop-and-go traffic because throttle tip-in is sharper. That could also be a result of being a couple hundred pounds lighter.

One observation about the transmission in the S: under light acceleration it shifts into high gear at low rpm to help fuel economy. It often pulls away from a stop in second gear and can need a good prod on the throttle to get it moving quickly. Selecting Sport mode makes the car feel much livelier.

One of the Macan’s more endearing traits is handling that is more like that of a sedan than a utility vehicle. Because the all-wheel-drive system is biased toward the rear wheels, the Macan feels more balanced in corners than most vehicles in this segment and that day-to-day agility is appealing. Power is also distributed to the front wheels when weather and road conditions dictate.

The ride is fairly firm with the standard suspension. Body roll in corners is moderate and the car feels perfectly planted at highway speeds. There is a bit of low-speed harshness on rough surfaces. Porsche’s optional height-adjustable air suspension and active damper control system, PASM, deliver a slightly more compliant ride. The air springs also enable the driver to raise the car’s ride height slightly for off-roading.

Slip behind the wheel and you’ll notice a new 10.9-inch infotainment screen that spreads across the center of the instrument panel. Center air vents now reside below the screen. The new infotainment system is a marked improvement over the previous model. The driver can choose a full-width navigation screen and a three-dimensional view provides a visual context that is missing with the base onedimensional map. Numerous apps show nearby fuel stations, lodging, and restaurants, all items that would be very handy on trips.

Up front, under the skin, Porsche chose stiff aluminum pieces to replace steel units in the front suspension and increased the width of the 19-inch and 20-inch front wheels. The result is sharper corner turn-in. The brake pedal has been redesigned for better feel and the Macan S gets slightly larger front brake rotors.

The 2019 Macan also gains the new Traffic Jam Assist function as a component of the optional adaptive cruise control system. When so equipped, the Macan can accelerate, brake, and keep itself within a marked lane at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

The Porsche Connect app and Porsche Car Connect app enable the driver to communicate with the Macan via a smartphone. The Offroad Precision app can be used to improve and even record off-road experiences in the Macan.

An expanded range of options and assistance systems are also available. The optional GT Sport steering wheel, wrapped in Alcantara, echoes the one found in a 911. The Sport Chrono package includes a mode switch integrated into the steering wheel, and a sport response button that boosts the power of the Macan for 20 seconds at the push of a button. Other options include a heated windshield and an air ionizer that improves the quality of the air inside the vehicle.

Voice input of navigation destinations is simple thanks to the new Voice Pilot. Using online voice recognition, commands are now much more intuitive than before. For example, a navigation destination can be entered without stating address details. The system also understands voice commands for controlling music and vehicle functions.