New car review

Porsche Macan S test drive

Latest updates keep the Porsche Macan S at the front of its pack

What is it?

Remember when a Porsche SUV was considered sacrilege? Those days are long gone, in so small part thanks to a modern market that sees pretty much everyone in on the action.

Porsche will always be the first to popularise the Sports Utility Vehicle though, with the Cayenne in 2002, and it’s almost hard to believe its smaller sibling in the Macan has already been around four years. In fact, the German firm has decided now is the time to give the latter a facelift — and that’s what we’re looking at here.

What’s new?

Visual changes for the Macan are pretty light here, but certainly noticeable. Up front, new LED headlights now come as standard across the range alongside a slightly tweaked bumper design.

It’s at the back were changes become really noticeable though, with a new full-width LED strip connecting the rear lights. New 20-inch alloys are available for no extra cost, while a fresh 21-inch option is on offer too.

Inside the car, a new dashboard houses an 11-inch touchscreen infotainment system — which comes loaded with Porsche’s Connect Plus system, relaying real-time traffic data to the driver. There’s also now a Sport Response Button — which gears the car up for maximum power for 20 seconds.

How does it look?

A first glance at the refreshed Porsche Macan might leave you a little stumped as to what’s actually changed, but delve deeper into the details and there are a lot of differences to be found.

New LED headlights and a revised bumper design don’t set the world alight but do give the SUV a fresh edge, although a major revision at the back brings a full-width LED strip connecting the rear lights. It harks back to 911s of old, while also bringing it in line with Porsche’s new offerings. We like it.

From an image standpoint, it still comes with that prestige the Porsche badge brings. Sure, die-hard fans of the firm may still condemn it — but this is the car that drives sales of its more exotic machinery.

What’s the spec like?

Along with the now-standard inclusion of LED headlights, the new 11-inch touchscreen infotainment system boasts a clever new Connect System that feeds real-time traffic information to the driver, plus a fresh selection of both 20-inch and 21-inch alloy wheels available.

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A new key addition too is the Sport Response Button. When operated, this sets the car up for a burst of full grunt. Gimmicky, sure, but it can be a lot of fun to use on the right road.

What’s it like inside?

Hopping into the Porsche Macan is a pleasant experience from a luxury standpoint. The cabin is draped in premium materials, with leather featuring on almost every surface — plus the option of metal, carbon-effect or wooden trim inlays,

It all feels wonderfully put together, and the Alcantara steering wheel fitted to our test Macan S is a must-have option in our view.

That said, there are some drawbacks — with the layout of controls remaining identical as before. The centre console is clunky, and it can be difficult to manage various car settings while keeping eyes on the road as a result. The latest generation of Porsche models has rectified this problem, so it’s a shame to see the Macan refresh is yet to benefit.

What’s under the bonnet?

2019 Porsche Macan S - engine

In Macan S guise as tested here, a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 can be found underneath the bonnet — sending power to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Power has been boosted slightly over the outgoing model, now producing 354hp and 480Nm of torque — up from 340hp and 460Nm.

What that translates to in performance figures is a small improvement in acceleration, with 0-60mph now coming up in 4.9 seconds instead of the old model’s 5.2 seconds. Top speed remains unchanged at 158 mph, and fuel economy is a not-exactly-parsimonious 31.7 mpg.

In typical Porsche fashion, it’s a fruitful and strong engine — delivering consistent power delivery across the rev range, and really coming alive beyond 5,000rpm. That said, it is hampered slightly by a hesitant gearbox.

What’s it like to drive?

2019 Porsche Macan S review

The Porsche Macan has always been up there as one of the best driving SUVs on the market, if not the, and a refresh has only built on that.

When pressing on, the chassis remains composed and does a great job at hiding the size, weight and higher centre of gravity of the car. Steering weighs up well too — and there’s the sense that this is about as close to a proper Porsche hot hatch we may ever see.

As well as offering a genuinely compelling spirited driving experience, the Macan is a capable cruiser too. At motorway speeds, it feels well-refined and comfortable. Cabin noise is pretty low, and switching off the optional active exhaust takes the engine from raucous to relaxing.

Summary

A refresh hasn’t drastically transformed the Porsche Macan S, but it has turned it into an even more appealing package. It continues to prove that opting for an SUV doesn’t mean sacrificing a true driving experience nor performance — while also building an appetite for a real Porsche hot hatch.

The Macan S, in particular, proves to be a more compelling option than the four-cylinder base car, offering a new world of performance in comparison.

Room for improvement remains, though. A sharper gearbox would add a lot to the package, and we’d like to see a more streamlined cabin layout.

Similar cars

Audi SQ5, BMW X3 M40i, Mercedes-Benz GLC 63

Key specifications

Model: Porsche Macan S
Price: £48,750
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6
Power: 354 hp
Torque: 480 Nm
Top speed: 158 mph
0-60mph: 4.9 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 31.7 mpg
CO2 emissions: 204 g/km

Ryan Hirons
Ryan Hirons
Articles by Ryan Hirons are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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