Crossover & Midsize

The Porsche Macan is More Capable Than You Think

One of the biggest ironies of modern luxury SUVs and crossovers is that many never leave pavement, despite being perfectly capable off-roaders. For instance, the Lamborghini Urus and Rolls-Royce Cullinan can genuinely climb rocky grades and speed through the sand. The Mercedes G-Wagon wouldn’t be a status symbol without its capabilities. And the same goes for Porsche’s vehicles. The Cayenne has raced in rallies, and even the brand’s sports cars have been converted for off-roading. And despite being better known for on-pavement handling, the Porsche Macan can also hit the dirt.

2020 Porsche Macan specs and features

2020 Porsche Macan GTS
2020 Porsche Macan GTS | Porsche

For 2020, the Porsche Macan is available in 4 trims: the $50,900 base trim; $59,400 S; $71,300 GTS; and $83,600 Turbo.

Slightly confusingly, the Porsche Macan Turbo isn’t the only turbocharged Macan. The base car comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, rated at 248 hp and 273 lb-ft. The S, meanwhile, has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, which produces 348 hp and 354 lb-ft. The GTS and Turbo, meanwhile, have a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6. In the GTS, it makes 375 hp and 383 lb-ft. In the Turbo, that gets boosted to 434 hp and 405 lb-ft. Every Porsche Macan has all-wheel drive and Porsche’s 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo interior
2020 Porsche Macan Turbo interior | Porsche

As part of its 2019 facelift, the Porsche Macan received a 10.9” infotainment touchscreen. However, Apple CarPlay remains an optional extra, and Android Auto isn’t available. A WiFi hotspot is standard, though. In terms of safety features, lane-departure warning is standard, and adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are optional.

Car and Driver recommends the Porsche Macan S trim. The S adds not only the turbocharged V6 but also LED headlights and a 10-speaker audio system. The Premium Package adds Apple CarPlay, heated front and rear seats, auto-dimming headlights, and a 14-speaker audio system. And if you prefer a bit of extra sportiness, the Sport Chrono Package brings launch control and additional adjustable driving modes.

The relative sparsity of standard features can seem rather odd, given the Macan’s price point. But that’s because instead of just focusing on luxury, Porsche made sure the Macan was fun to drive.

The Porsche Macan is fun both on- and off-road

The Porsche Macan was named to Car and Driver’s 10Best list primarily due to the strength of its handling. Even on a wet, curvy road, the crossover isn’t every terrifying, because of how well its steering communicates information to the driver. And despite its excellent handling, the Macan’s ride isn’t harsh or overly stiff.

Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire said much of the same in his review of the Porsche Macan Turbo. He describes it as driving “like a leather-wrapped rally car.” Porsche even redesigned the brake pedal to make it more communicative. And Farah reports the base Macan is just as good on a day-to-day basis.

But Porsche didn’t only develop and test its crossover on the road. It has an Off-Road Mode, Autoweek reports, and 9” of ground clearance with the optional air suspension. You can even spec the Macan with skid plates.

It’s not on the Land Rover Defender’s level, to be sure. However, Road & Track and Motor Trend report the Macan can scramble up rocky hills, and wade into water 12” deep. And with its AWD and some snow tires, the Porsche Macan has no problems dealing with snow and ice.

How the competition compares

Although the Porsche Macan is dynamically excellent, it does have some drawbacks. Namely, that it’s relatively small for cargo and passengers. And adding options quickly gets expensive.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE | Mercedes-Benz

If you need some extra room and luxury, the Mercedes-Benz GLE is an excellent alternative. The 255-hp GLE 350 starts at $56,700 and comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, WiFi, and blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking. And if you need to take it off-road, you can equip the GLE with active air suspension.

It removes the standard anti-roll bars and steel springs, Car and Driver reports. But it actually doesn’t need them, MT reports. Plus, not only does it give the Mercedes 11” of ground clearance, but it also adds a special trick: bouncing free of mud and sand.

Another alternative is the Jaguar F-Pace. Even the most expensive, most powerful trim, the 550-hp F-Pace SVR, stickers for less than the Macan Turbo. And in base trim, the Jaguar is $5700 cheaper than the Porsche. But, the F-Pace has more standard features than the Porsche Macan, and Autoblog reports it has more storage space.

In addition, Jalopnik and R&T report the F-Pace was developed with help from Land Rover’s engineers. It features standard AWD, hill-descent control, and low-speed off-road cruise control. So, although it has slightly less ground clearance than the Macan, the F-Pace won’t totally embarrass itself off-road.  

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