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Driven: Porsche Macan Turbo. Image by Porsche AG.

Driven: Porsche Macan Turbo
The updated Porsche Macan Turbo loses some cc but gains horsepower – and it remains a tremendous fast SUV.

   



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Porsche Macan Turbo (2020MY)

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: as performance SUVs go, this one's right up there at the top of the pile

Not so good: rear-seat space a bit cramped; it's pricey

Key Facts

Model tested: Porsche Macan Turbo
Price: Macan range from £46,913; Turbo from £68,530, car as tested £86,143
Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, PTM all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door performance SUV
CO2 emissions: 224g/km (VED Band 191-225: £1,280 in year one, then £465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 23.5mpg
Top speed: 167mph
0-62mph: 4.3 seconds
Power: 440hp at 5,700-6,600rpm
Torque: 550Nm at 1,800-5,600rpm
Boot space: 500-1,500 litres

Our view:

Simple one, this, that we'll begin with a history lesson. When the Porsche Macan launched in 2014, it arrived with three models: the S Diesel, the S and then the Turbo. All had V6 turbocharged engines, the S Diesel being a, er, diesel and the other two petrol variants. Outputs were 258hp/580Nm on the S Diesel, 340hp/460Nm on the S and 400hp/550Nm on the Turbo, with 0-62mph times of 6.3 seconds, 5.4 seconds and 4.8 seconds respectively. The difference between the S and the Turbo, beyond the power and price, was that the former had a 3.0-litre V6 and the latter had its own 3.6-litre biturbo unit.

During the pre-facelift model's production, a 252hp/370Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder variant was added (which was special order in the UK) and then a GTS arrived in late 2015, with 360hp and 500Nm from an uprated version of the 3.0-litre motor found in the Macan S. This GTS was supposed to be the driver-focused one, but its engine configuration, power and performance (0-62mph in 5.2 seconds) placed it closer to the Macan S than the Macan Turbo in spirit; an evolved version of the former, rather than a detuned example of the latter.

Cue the facelift in 2019 and, apart from the full-width light strip being added to the bootlid of the Macan, not a massive amount changed. The S Diesel bit the bullet as Porsche distances itself from the fuel and focuses on an electric future to satisfy the environmentally minded fans of the marque, while the four-cylinder model is no longer special order but just the base Macan, with marginally less power (245hp) than before. Which leaves the S, the GTS and the Turbo.

The first of these still uses a 3.0-litre V6, for modest increases of 14hp and 20Nm (354hp and 480Nm) on its direct predecessor, trimming three-tenths from its 0-62mph time for a 5.1-second sprint. The major shift has come with the other two. The Turbo has been downsized from a 3.6-litre motor to the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 that you'd find in other Porsches like the Panamera, as well as in the Audi RS 4. But the GTS, which used to share its mechanicals with the S, now uses the same 2.9-litre engine as the Turbo. Both are, understandably, more powerful than their immediate ancestors, the 2020MY GTS packing 380hp and 520Nm (up 20hp and 20Nm), while the Turbo rolls in with 440hp (up 40hp) and the same 550Nm as the 3.6 litre model. But with the GTS still claiming the tag of 'ultimate driver's SUV' in the line-up, is there now a point to the Turbo, given it no longer has an engine which is bespoke to it and it alone?

The short answer is 'yes'. Yes, there's a point to the Turbo, which is this: it's one of the best performance SUVs you're ever gonna try. It is blinding. Blistering. A triumph of managing its mass and superbly blending a sports-car-like driving experience with the imperious feeling that only an SUV can give you. The 2020 GTS won a glowing appraisal following our first drive but it can be no sharper to steer or enjoy than the Turbo, which is the fastest and (joint) most-powerful Macan yet to see the light of day. And if you're wondering what we mean by that, then know that the pre-facelift Turbo had a Performance Pack option which lifted its 3.6-litre motor to 440hp and 600Nm, but it was no quicker than this 2020MY Turbo... and if Porsche does a PP for this one, we're probably looking at a factory 500hp Macan.

Naturally, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Alfa Romeo would all be very quick to point out that their mega-power-mid-sized-SUVs all have 510hp, while Jaguar would no doubt discreetly clear its throat and mutter something about '550hp supercharged V8', 'SVR' and 'F-Pace', but - apart from the Alfa - none of the Macan's aforementioned rivals can muster up the same dynamic genius as the Porsche. It just turns in, grips and balances itself so beautifully that you entirely forget it weighs 2,020kg and stands 1,624mm tall. When Porsche bravely called this the 'first sports car of its type' after the Macan launched six years ago, it might have been easy to dismiss such a trite statement as marketing bluster on the part of Stuttgart, but actually the Germans could not have been much more brazenly truthful if they tried.

Having lost 700cc and gained no extra torque, you might think the Macan Turbo no longer feels that special in world where we've become inured to SUVs which can run sub-five-seconds for 0-62mph, but the Porsche still punches ridiculously hard and makes a terrific noise while doing so. The PDK gearbox is the perfect ally for all this easily accessed power and with Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive, the Macan finds purchase and just flies off into the distance no matter what the conditions. And yet it is nuanced and involving, in a way the closely related Mk2 Audi SQ5 cannot quite replicate, whether you're talking about the short-lived TFSI version or as its more pleasing TDI replacement.

What makes the Macan Turbo so fantastic, though, is that it works brilliantly as a 'normal' SUV when you want it to. OK, so the rear-seat space isn't epic on the smaller of Porsche's two high-riding models, and - at £86,143 as tested, equipped as it was with a hefty £17,613 of options - you can hardly call it 'affordable', but if you fit the £1,044 self-levelling air suspension to the standard-kit Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), then the Turbo can roll along on 21-inch alloys with supreme grace and indifference to the quality of the road passing under its broad tyres. Noise suppression is first rate, the cabin is a wonderful place to spend some time (the 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management infotainment system enhances a dash architecture that might not be the company's latest, but one which works so intuitively that you just won't give two hoots that a Taycan has haptic touch-switchgear) and it has great visibility out in all directions. Thank a driving position that's just the right amount of 'high' (ahem...) for that, because you sit in that semi-command position which means it's worthwhile being in an SUV, but which is also low enough and ensconced by the dashboard so that the Macan feels like a proper sports car.

All told, we did 422 miles in the Macan Turbo. Incredibly, despite a number of strops to enjoy its marvellous drivetrain, it manged 23mpg during that time and even chucked in 28.8mpg on one M1 slog to Heathrow. And so we return to our opening premise of the piece: if you want the sharpest-handling, most desirable and downright best-driving SUV you can buy, it's a pure toss-up between this 2020MY Porsche Macan Turbo and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. See? Told you this was a simple one.

Alternatives:

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio: it's a straight fight between these two for overall honours. The Porsche has the nicer cabin and perhaps the more polished chassis, the Alfa is quicker, looks nicer and makes a phenomenal din. Tough battle.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S: mighty V8 biturbo engine is a beauty and it's a more adept handler than you'd give it credit for, but the GLC 63 S lacks the precision and poise of the Porsche, being more of a 'heavy weapon'-like machine.

Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered: as an alternative to a 'pure' petrol performance SUV, you could go for the Polestar-fettled version of the XC60 PHEV. Its Öhlins dampers are fabulous and it's a highly desirable thing, but the Macan Turbo is undoubtedly the better performance machine.


Matt Robinson - 23 Jan 2020



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2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.2020 Porsche Macan Turbo UK test. Image by Porsche AG.








 

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