Porsche hit the motherlode with the 2014-launched Macan, as it has already shifted in excess of 350,000 units of its compact SUV worldwide. Now it's time for a visual refresh and some technical updates, to keep this showroom powerhouse at the top of its game.
In the Metal:
The Porsche Macan never suffered from the 'ugly stick' problem its big brother, the Cayenne, did when it originally broke cover in 2003 (and, to be truthful, it's only in Mk3 guise that the Cayenne has finally matured into a nice piece of design). And therefore the company has decided not to throw the baby out with the bathwater as part of the Macan's midlife facelift - but to say it is indistinguishable from the old model wouldn't be entirely fair. The easiest way to spot the newcomer is the full-width taillight strip at the back, incorporating the brand name, and featuring four-point brake lights, to echo the four-point daytime running light LEDs up front.
However, even the front end has received a significant update, although it's not as easy to spot at first. The lower front foglamps have gone, replaced by functions in the now-LED-as-standard headlights (and those four-point daytime running lights have been reshaped, with more of a 'cross' motif than previously). That allows the outer air intakes of the bumper to have more vertical edges than they did before, while a strip of ancillary lights that used to sit right underneath the main lamp clusters has now become a thin detail of one of the horizontal blades of the reshaped intake. Further, the whole lower splitter area is redesigned, as a result of all the changes, although the main radiator grille is the same shape. Other exterior visual alterations amount to front parking sensors discreetly integrated into the 'airblades', the option of having the Macan's lower door trims in Brilliant Silver or High-Gloss Black and a new array of freshly sculpted alloy wheels, up to 21 inches in diameter.
Inside, it's pretty much a carry-over from the high-quality cabin of the pre-facelift Macan, albeit with two main changes. The first is the adoption of the (optional) GT sports steering wheel, with its 360mm diameter and rotary mode switch with 'Sport Response' button mounted just off the central boss (that is, if you option up the Sport Chrono Package). The second is much easier to clock - the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment is now the recipient of the gorgeous, 10.9-inch display that's found in all Porsche models bar the 718 twins. What with this and the five-dial analogue/digital instrument cluster, the 2019MY Macan's interior is a lovely place to spend some time. Unless you're in the back seat, where it remains just a little on the cramped side.
Porsche has announced just two engines for the 2019MY Macan for now, which are a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit in the model with no badge appendages, and then a 3.0-litre V6 turbo in the Macan S; this engine is pretty much the one that powers the Audi SQ5, although Porsche doesn't like to admit that. The brand has already announced it wants to move away from diesel power, so the eco-duties will most likely be handled by a forthcoming plug-in E-Hybrid variant, while we fully expect two faster Macans to arrive before long, in the shape of the GTS and the storming Macan Turbo.
The 2.0-litre variant is the intriguing one, because there has actually been a four-cylinder engine available for the Macan since very soon after its launch four years ago. It's just that, over here in right-hand-drive markets, it was special order previously. Now, with downsizing all the rage, it has become the 'official' entry-point, if you will. For the 2019 Macan, it delivers 245hp and 370Nm, enough for admirable performance stats of 225km/h flat out and 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds - although you can trim this to 6.5 seconds if you have selected the Sport Chrono Package and therefore have the ability to press the aforementioned Sport Response button when in Sport Plus mode (that's a lot of Sportiness, right there). But it also emits less than 200g/km of CO2 and returns combined consumption of 8.1 litres/100km, which are decent figures for such a fast, petrol-powered SUV.
Like all Macans, the 2.0-litre model is fitted with Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive and a seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) twin-clutch automatic transmission. The Porsche SUV is also unusual, in that it has narrower tyres on the front axle compared to the rear; mismatched rubber is not common on all-wheel-drive SUVs, as they tend to have tyres all the same size, but Porsche reckons the eight-inch wide front wheels (18s as standard) provide more steering feedback than they would do if they were nine inches wide like the rears.
There have also been multitudinous detail changes to the suspension, such as front axle spring forks made of aluminium, rather than steel (net unsprung weight saving: 1.5kg), a revision of the optional air suspension for better 'springing' (for want of a better word) and retuned anti-roll bars. And all of the above adds up to the same thing it always has: the Macan is one of the, if not THE, sweetest-handling SUVs going. There's just a granularity of feel to its steering, a poise to the way it turns in and grips, a minute and precise adjustability to everything it does that gives it the true sportiness that has always been lacking from machines that purport to be Sports Utility Vehicles.
So much so that you drive the Macan around and wonder how on Earth it can be related to the Audi Q5. Good though the Audi is, the Porsche is simply sharper in every regard - and yet it can do the cultured, quiet cruising thing just as well as another other high-riding family chariot. The ride has that taut, limber quality that speaks of a beautifully damped sports car, rather than a softly-softly cruiser, and while you are aware of the road surface passing beneath the Macan's wheels, your comfort is never disturbed by it. Similarly, the suppression of wind and tyre noise is as good as anything else in this class, even those competitors who try and focus on comfort over speed.
Which brings us to that 2.0-litre engine. Having already dealt with this issue in the 718 Boxster and Cayman pair and come to the conclusion that a four-cylinder Porsche is not such a bad thing, there will nevertheless be those who reckon the 245hp motor is 'Not The One' for the Macan. And... to a tiny extent... we agree with them. It's a fine powerplant, lusty and responsive, lacking for lag and providing the 2.0-litre SUV with real punch around much of the rev range. It works really well with the PDK gearbox, too. It even sounds decent, gravelly and rich, tuned more for noise than you might give it credit for... until you realise it's the powerplant from the Volkswagen Golf GTI when fitted with the Performance Pack, so its sporty voice is not so surprising. However, driven back-to-back with the V6-powered Macan S, it doesn't quite match up to the experience afforded by the 354hp car, and a lot of that is down to the fact it is missing two cylinders, rather than 109hp.
What you get for your Money:
The Macan kicks off at €78,671 in Ireland, but, like all Porsches, the SUV has a lot of options that are pricey - and quite a few of them will feel like 'must-haves' to buyers, pushing the price of the Macan further away from premium rivals with slightly-less-desirable brand badges on their noses. Prices for the Macan S have not been confirmed as yet, but we expect them to be some distance above the 2.0-litre model.
A series of small but successful updates for the 2019MY Porsche Macan sees the dynamic king of the SUVs get that little bit better. It's not the cheapest nor most practical of high-riding machines, and this 2.0-litre model ever so slightly lacks for the 'wow' factor that the shield badge on its bonnet demands, but otherwise this is a corking product from this most desirable of brands.