Porsche Macan 2.0 | PH review

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I just read a report from the UK Chamber of Commerce stating that supply chain problems continue to cause inflation. Oh dear. In other words, everything from carrots to cabbage is increasing, but not in the way you would expect. It struck me that this is nothing new to auto buyers, who have been seeing crazy inflation for years. The M3 is a case in point. In my head that’s a £ 50k car, but now it’s pushing £ 80k. It’s a fabulous thing, no doubt. But this looks a little, well, rich.

Then I was browsing the price list for the recently updated Porsche Macan range, and I noticed that the entry-level car is under £ 50k. It looked – and take it with a grain of salt – almost cheap. Until you realize you’re buying one with only two liters and four cylinders, you’re not. Which begs the question: do you need it more? Is a four-pot Macan a puzzle or a chord maker? Many customers think it’s the latter: the Macan and Macan S are neck and neck in the sales charts, with the GTS not far behind.

The £ 6k savings over the next rung of the ladder, the 2.9-liter V6 S, is mainly due to fitting Volkswagen’s venerable EA888 turbo engine. It’s an engine I can’t get rid of at the moment, having recently written about both the Audi SQ2 Other Skoda Kodiaq vRS. Everyone has crept into my heart to some degree, which bodes well for the Macan, but the Porsche badge naturally carries with it more expectations and, despite a post-restyled power boost from 245 to 265hp, the Macan is still not as powerful as the smaller SQ2.

However, its 265 HP is sufficient. As always, the EA888 offers everything in a reliable and linear way; just not terribly exciting when you compare it to the V6 S. It basically feels a little flat, which has a lot to do with the difference in the way the two engines spin – the EA888 is less extravagant towards the high end – as it gulfs in their times of 0-62mph (it’s 1.5 seconds slower than the V6 S). And then there is the noise. Now I’m not saying the EA888 is gross or jarring in any way – but let’s be honest, what would you prefer: a choir of four or six?

If the noise isn’t very “Porsche”, the PDK gearbox certainly is, even if you wouldn’t always think so while driving. At times, it behaves very much like the Volkswagen DSG which is most commonly bolted to this engine, with an occasional reluctance to manually downshift. There is also the hint of transmission shunt as you walk away. But in every other respect the PDK behaves as you would expect because when the gear changes come, they are smooth and sharp, whether orchestrated manually or with the gearbox composing them on its own.

So far, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. But when you delve into the capabilities of the frame, Macan’s magic is still there. It’s such a capable SUV and, don’t forget, we’re talking about a car that’s been on sale since 2014 and was built on the foundation of the now defunct first generation Q5. However, when it comes to driving and handling, the modestly proportioned Macan is still a big dad in the SUV world and, if anything, far from detracting from its capabilities, the entry-level version improves them marginally thanks to the weight reduction of the front end. He is incredibly good at knitting corners. Perhaps, being fussy, the steering could have a little more weight around the straight and, yes, the column isn’t exactly equipped with a touch on the brim. Once you get past those early grades, however, the weight comes in well and the gearbox is in place, making the Macan feel agile and precise on the road.

Obviously, this stimulates you, and when you start pushing him harder you can also marvel at his body control. This is where you notice the difference between something cheaper than the VW Group. It is so measured in its vertical movements and unwavering no matter how much the road surface rises under it. And, for the record, this car didn’t work with PASM or air suspension. It was as it comes, with standard steel springs and regular shock absorbers. Nor has the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus ticked the box, yet it neatly tucks into corners with a lift and playfully squirms in the back (when you loosen the ESP) and splashes it on the way out. The only thing you notice here is the relative lack of torque from the engine, which means you have to be heavily engaged in the throttle openings to detach the rear tires.

Regardless, it is extremely comfortable and in all settings. In many respects the driving position is also excellent. Highlights include the degree of back and forth adjustability of the steering wheel, so you can position it “just like that” and the seats, which are still comfortable even after long periods behind the wheel. One problem is its swollen transmission tunnel – a historical problem that pushes your left leg to the right and confirms that the platform you are on precedes MLB. Another aspect of the Macan’s recent facelift are the touch-sensitive buttons that now adorn the center console. They certainly rearrange the look of the endless interior, albeit at the expense of usability. Although the old-fashioned buttons may seem confusing, you soon learned what each did and how to find it by touch. You will never find touch sensitive buttons on the touch.

Do you need more of this 2.0-liter variant then? Well, I’ve thought about it for a long time, as you’d expect. And certainly this isn’t just a Porsche pastiche built cynically to milk the materialist – which I doubt they’re reading anyway. Those of you will be happy to know that even in the entry-level format, the Macan hits the mark with its sweet suspension setup and adjustable handling, making it not only something to swagger about, but also something to enjoy. Of course, anyone who’s about to rush in to grab one like it’s another Black Friday deal will have to do so knowing it’s missing a bit of welly and fruity from the exhaust. But you’ll probably have to drive one back-to-back with the fuller V6 S to truly appreciate what you’re missing out on.

SPECIFICATIONS | PORSCHE MACAN 2.0

Motor: 1.984cc, turbo, four in line
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 265 at 5,000-6,500 rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295 at 1,800-4,500 rpm
0-62mph: 6.4 seconds
Full speed: 144 miles per hour
Weight: 1.920kg (EU)
MPG: 28.0
CO2: 243g / km
Price: £ 47,780

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