2018 Porsche Macan Buying Advice
This is the best premium compact crossover for you if you’re willing to sacrifice a smidgen of practicality for a surplus of performance. Demonstrating the siren’s call of the crossover in today’s automotive market, this all-wheel-drive hatchback is the sport-car makers best-selling vehicle. In fact, it took that title from the larger Cayenne midsize crossover. There’s nothing junior-class about Macan’s performance, though, with every model in the lineup a benchmark for best-in-class road manners. Changes for model-year 2018 are minor: adjustments to some accessory displays and some new colors.
Should you buy a 2018 or wait for the ‘19?
Waiting for the ’19 could get you a slightly facelifted Macan; some sources in fact expected a freshening for model-year 2018. If Porsche does update the styling for ‘19, it would almost certainly make subtle changes to the nose and tail, leaving unaltered the main body. That would mark the first facelift since Macan launched as a 2015 model and would carry the crossover to its next full redesign, likely for model-year 2020 or ’21. Sources also speculate that a plug-in-hybrid variant is in the works; its introduction could coincide with a model-year 2019 freshening. Porsche and Audi are Volkswagen Group holdings and Macan is based on the platform of the first-generation 2009-2017 Audi Q5 premium-compact crossover.
Agate Grey Metallic joins the exterior color palette, there are minor adjustments to interior hues, and brake calipers on the Macan S model change from silver to darker Titanium Grey. Otherwise, the 2018 Macan is visually unaltered. It continues with a lineup beginning with the Base trim and ascending through Macan S, GTS, Turbo, and Turbo with Performance Package models.
To Porsche’s credit, Macan’s rounded contours and athletic shoulders give it a wholly distinct appearance from the blockier first-generation Q5, with which it shared its basic understructure and key dimensions. Appearance differences between Macan models are understated. Base and S versions have round instead of rectangular fog lamps. Their front air intakes have slightly different-looking strakes and a separate row of LED daytime running lamps absent on the other models. All Macans have automatic on/off, self-leveling bi-xenon headlights, with the GTS’s front lenses and taillamps distinguished by a smoked effect. Porsche’s lengthy options lists lets buyers mix and match some of these looks. Similarly, there are a multitude of alloy wheel designs and sizes, up to 21-inches, with many optionally interchangeable among models. The standard spec gives Base and S trims 18-inch-diameter alloys and the grey brake calipers. The GTS’s standard alloys are 20s and the Turbos’ are 19s, both offset by red calipers.
Macan’s interior is distinctively Porsche, as well. The tachometer is given preference over the speedometer in the gauge cluster, and the ignition switch is to the left of the steering column – a reminder of the brand’s racing heritage. Separating the front bucket seats for a sporty, cockpit ambience is a prominent center console with more than two-dozen buttons and toggles to control everything from the power front seats, to suspension and climate adjustments, to the tone of the exhaust. Standard upholstery for Base, S, and GTS is a combination of leather and Alcantara; Turbos come with full leather, an Alcantara headliner, and, like the GTS, brushed aluminum instead of piano-black cabin accents.
In all, it’s a driver-focused environment, with hint of private-aircraft ambience and a priority on sporty panache. Cabin materials are top notch, but back-seaters can feel cramped and closed-in, disadvantaged for headroom and legroom and deprived of much outward visibility by the relatively small rear windows. That roof styling takes a toll on cargo volume, too. The 17.1 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 53 with the 40/20/40 split-bench folded is akin to that of “four-door coupe” off-shoots of rivals, such as the fastback X4 version of BMW’s X3.
Powertrains are unchanged after expanding for model-year 2017 to include the Base edition’s four-cylinder engine and the GTS’s not-quite-Turbo-model-potent V-6. The Base Macan’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four is shared with the Q5, where it also generates 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It furnishes more than adequate acceleration – Porsche says 0-60 mph in under 6.4 seconds — but renders this crossover a tepid-feeling against the ferocious twin-turbo V-6s in the other Macans. In the S model, the 3.0-liter six makes 340 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. In the GTS, it has 360 horses and 369 pound-feet (in the 2018 Audi SQ5, it rates 354 and 369, respectively). Both the S and GTS do 0-60 in around 5 seconds. Impressive – until you experience the mid-4-second thrust of the 3.6-liter in the Turbo models. It has 400 horses and 406 pound-feet of torque in the “basic” Turbo, and 440 and 442, respectively, as fortified in the Turbo with Performance Package.
All these engines work through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that acts like an impressively smooth, conventional automatic when left in Drive. Canny software enables it to downshift on its own as you approach a corner and hold the lower gear for a rapid exit. The transmission rifles off racecar-like gear changes when in Sport Plus mode or when controlled manually via the shift lever or the steering-wheel paddles standard on all models. Sport Plus mode is part of the Sport Chrono Package, which is standard on the Turbo Performance Package and a $1,310 option otherwise. This includes launch control that shaves a few tenths from 0-60 times; a digital stopwatch atop dashboard; and the Sport Plus button on center console that sharpens powertrain and suspension settings.
Dicing with city traffic or storming an open road storming, any Macan is a model of composure and precision. This crossover’s basic understructure is shared with the front-wheel-drive architecture of the first-generation Audi Q5 compact crossover. But the comparably unsporting DNA of front-wheel drive is effectively eradicated by Porsche’s powertrain and chassis tuning.
Every Macan has all-wheel drive calibrated for on-road handling but light-duty off-roading is no problem, thanks to available traction-enhancing settings and an air suspension that can pump up an additional 1.5 inches of ground clearance.
The GTS is essentially a Turbo Performance Package model without the bigger engine and like the Turbo Performance Package it comes with Porsche’s Active Suspension Management air suspension. An option for the other Macans, this provides three manually selectable settings – Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus – to customize the already surprisingly supple ride and further hone handling. Yet another handling asset is Torque Vectoring Plus, a $1,500 option that can brake individual rear wheels and includes an automatic variable differential lock.
Only details change, leaving an approach that supplies as standard what each model requires to achieve its performance target, and then offers options to individualize styling, luxury, and connectivity — and achieve even higher performance. We’re clear on the concept – Porsche buyers adore customization – but grate at making you pay extra to equip your Macan with key safety features.
Foremost among these is autonomous emergency braking capable of stopping the crossover to prevent a frontal collision. It’s optional on every ’18 Macan as part of the $1,440 Porsche Active Safe system, which also includes adaptive cruise control that can maintain a set distance from traffic ahead and, with stop-and-go capability, can relieve some traffic-jam stress.
All Macans come with lane-departure warning, but blind-spot alert and lane-maintaining automatic steering correction are options at $700 apiece. Certainly, some Porsche drivers believe they’re better off without automatic driver assists. And, yes, $1,440 or so is a pittance on planet Porsche. But these driver aids — as standard equipment – are de rigueur in any premium segment. (Autonomous emergency braking is a prerequisite for the industry’s most coveted accolade, “Top Safety Pick+” status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
In addition to the model-year changes noted earlier, the climate system gains an optimized active carbon filter and the instrument cluster an air-circulation display; the audio screen now visually indicates volume changes; and some display interfaces have new “tiles.” Every ’18 Macan returns with a power liftgate, Bluetooth connectivity, power front seats, and a 7-inch dashboard touchscreen.
Memory power front seats start with the S trim; the GTS has heated sports seats, and Turbos adaptive Sport seats. An imbedded navigation system is standard on the Turbo models and a $1,780 option on the others. On models without navigation, the $1,020 Porsche Car Connect option enables GPS apps via Apple CarPlay and access to a free app for Apple and Android smartphones that furnishes remote door locking, location reminder, and notification of unauthorized movement and tracking in the event of theft.
Introduction of the four-cylinder Base model for 2017 allowed Porsche to reduce Macan’s price of entry by some $6,000, to under $49,000. Adding the GTS provided a taste of Turbo-model thrills for $8,800 less than the top-of-the-line performers. Still, it’s no surprise that this crossover’s base prices are at the upper end of the segment; the Turbo with Performance Package in fact has the highest starting price in the class. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s $1,050 destination fee.)
The 2018 Macan Base model is priced from $48,850 and the ’18 Macan S from $56,450. The 2018 Macan GTS starts at $69,950. Base price is $78,250 for the Turbo model and $88,750 for the Turbo with Performance Package. All these models are available with a plethora of options, most of which maintain their package content and price throughout the line. Using the Base version as an example, here’s a selection of functional, dress-up, and convenience items:
Any exterior hue other than black or white is $700, but Porsche will paint your Macan to your color sample for $6,520. Twenty-one-inch alloys are available on any trim level at $4,800-$5,400, depending on the model. Leather upholstery is available in a variety of shades and grades, including Espresso Natural Leather at $4,920. Carbon fiber cabin trim is $1,500, a Burmester surround-sound audio system is $5,700.
The $2,590 Premium Package consists of the Porsche Dynamic Light System (steering linked low beams and “increased light distribution” over 68 mph), Bose audio, auto-dimming mirrors, and heated front and rear seats. The $5,950 Premium Package Plus – adds 14-way power cooled front seats with memory, a panoramic moonroof, and Porsche Entry & Drive (hands free unlocking and key-free twist engine start).
LED headlamps including the Porsche Dynamic Light system are $1,900. At $2,610-$4,350, various “SportDesign” packages include special front-fascia and air-intake grilles and are available with and without side skirts.
Considering the levels of performance on hand, Macan is relatively fuel-frugal, with every model matching up well with rivals of similar power. EPA ratings for the 2018 Macan weren’t available in time for this review but given the absence of fuel-economy-affecting changes, the 2017 ratings should carry over.
That means the Base Macan would again rate 20/25/22 mpg city/highway/combined. Rather surprisingly, the EPA rated the 2017 Macan S, the GTS, and the Turbo model all at 17/23/19 mpg.
The Macan is better than the ….
Most everything in the class for sheer performance, but some rivals also offer a highly rewarding driving experience. Look to the redesigned Audi SQ5, the BMW X3 xDrive35i and X4 M40i, supercharged V-6 versions of the Jaguar F-Pace, and the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and GLC43 Coupe.
The Macan is not as good as the…
Direct competitors with larger rear seats and more cargo volume – if Macan’s shortages in those areas happen to be deal-breakers for you. For a greater degree of practicality in the upper ranges of the premium-compact-crossover class, consider the Q5, the Cadillac XT5, the F-Pace, and especially the Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Due for model-year 2010 or ’21, the next-generation Macan reportedly will not transition to the all-new structure that underpins the redesigned 2018 Audi Q5 premium compact crossover. Expect evolutionary styling and perhaps a second, more powerful turbo-four-cylinder engine choice. If Porsche adds a plug-in hybrid to the lineup – for 2019 or with the redesign — it’ll likely borrow its powertrain from the S E-Hybrid version of the automaker’s midsize Cayenne crossover. That pairs a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with an electric motor for a net 416 horsepower and 435 pound-feet of torque. The Cayenne S E-Hybrid can travel about 14 miles on an initial electric charge from the grid, operating as a conventional hybrid when the initial charge is depleted. In the larger, heavier Cayenne, the combination generates 0-60-mph in 5.4 seconds.