The idea of a Porsche SUV is no longer new, and that's largely down to the brilliant Macan. The mid-size model has long been regarded as one of the best premium SUVs on the market, but are Porsche's relatively minor changes for 2022 enough to keep it at the top of the tree? To find out, we put the entry-level version through its paces.
In the Metal:
At a glance, the Macan looks more or less unchanged, and so it is. This lightest of facelifts has seen the front bumper redesigned to make the car look wider, and that's about it. Fancier headlights and door mirrors have also been fitted as standard, but they're really minor tweaks.
The interior has been more comprehensively updated, but it's still a case of evolution over revolution. Porsche has swapped the buttons on the centre console for new touch surfaces, which look a little less fussy but are prone to grubby fingerprints. There's also a new gear selector and a new steering wheel inherited from the 911 sports car.
Aside from those tweaks, Porsche has left the Macan's cabin alone, and that's no bad thing. There's plenty of space for four adults, even though the rear seats look a bit cramped when you peer through the door aperture, and there's a sensibly-sized boot. At 488 litres when measured to the window line, it's only a little less capacious than an Audi Q5's or a BMW X3's. If you need more room, simply fold the back seats down to access more than 1,500 litres of luggage space.
More importantly, the Macan's interior still carries all the hallmarks of a Porsche cabin. The build quality is brilliant, with even more precision and attention to detail than the likes of Audi and BMW. With soft leather and some glossy finishes, as well as a beautifully presented 10.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, it feels every bit as premium as the price tag would suggest it is.
There are a few little niggles, though. For one, some of the plastic feels a little too exposed for our liking. Of course, there has to be some plastic on show, and the Macan's materials are generally first-rate, but Porsche has shown a disappointing lack of effort to make some of the switches and other touchpoints more tactile - particularly on the steering wheel.
And Porsche's somewhat hurried makeover has also left the Macan with a few old-school features shining through. Where most Porsche models have graduated to a more modern instrument cluster with an even mix of digital displays and conventional dials, the Macan has ageing dials and a glorified trip computer that doubles as a display. It isn't bad as a navigation screen, but some of the readouts feel a bit... PlayStation 2-ish.
That said, if you scour the dictionary for the definition of nit-picking, you'll find the last two paragraphs writ large on the page. That really is all we can find to criticise inside the Macan, and that's testament to just how fabulous modern Porsche cabins can be.
Although this is the baby of the Macan range, it still has power in abundance. It is a Porsche, after all. Under the bonnet is the same basic turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine you'll find in a Volkswagen Golf GTI, but Porsche has squeezed out 265hp, rather than the GTI's 245hp. That's enough for a 0-100km/h time of 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 232km/h, which puts the big, heavy Macan more or less on a par with the go-faster Golf. Specify the Sport Chrono Package and it'll be even faster.
So while it may not have the potency of the 380hp S model or the 440hp Macan GTS, the entry-level Macan isn't hanging about. And it delivers its power with grace and refinement, which hasn't always been the case with four-cylinder engines. We're used to 2.0-litre motors droning their way through the rev range, but the Macan's powerplant sounds much more tuneful, albeit less sonorous than the larger engines found in S and GTS models. But that's an unfair comparison, and anyone used to, say, the 2.0-litre petrol engine in a Land Rover Discovery Sport or even a BMW X3 will find the Macan's engine much easier on the ears.
And it'll be easier on the wallet than its more powerful brethren. Where the S and GTS models only manage 11.1-11.7 litres per 100km, the standard Macan squeaks in below 11. Okay, it's still thirsty, but until the electric Macan arrives in 2023, that might well be as good as it gets.
In happier news, even this basic model is a dream to drive, with handling that has to be experienced to be believed. The steering is wonderfully smooth and beautifully weighted, which makes the car feel stable and substantial in your hands. Turn the wheel and there's brisk response from the front wheels, while the suspension stops the heavy bodywork from leaning too much. All of which makes this 4x4 feel as agile as a five-door hatchback. It's like watching Rory Best perform ballet, and perform it well, at that...
That doesn't just make the Macan the most dynamically capable car in its class, but it makes this base model the most dynamically capable Macan. Somehow the steering feels more natural than in the more sensitive S and GTS versions, and the ride feels slightly smoother - although that could well be down to the smaller alloy wheels.
In fact, the Macan is surprisingly comfortable. Where some cars would need a rock-hard ride to handle this well, the Macan soaks up the bumps with ease. It still feels taut (undulations in the road will make themselves felt in the cabin), but it never feels harsh; there's no jiggling or jarring as it drives along the road.
Of course, other SUVs can beat the Macan in the comfort stakes. The Mercedes-Benz GLC comes to mind, but it doesn't handle anything like as well as the Porsche. And while the BMW X3 is marginally more supple, it's also marginally less agile. As a jack-of-all-trades, the Macan is tough to beat.
It even has a little off-road capability, although Porsche itself admits this is a road car with all-terrain capability, rather than an overland vehicle with concessions to on-road driving. If you're worried about snow or muddy farm tracks, fear not; the Macan will cope quite happily. If you're planning to head off-road regularly, consider a Land Rover Discovery Sport or even a Range Rover Evoque.
What you get for your Money:
This is the cheapest version of the Macan, but everything is relative. Prices start at just over €87,000 in Ireland, and that's a small fortune. But with the more powerful (and only slightly better-equipped) S and GTS versions costing another €10,000 and €30,000 respectively, the base version represents the strongest value in the range.
That money pays for 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights and automatic windscreen wipers, plus three-zone climate control, parking sensors and navigation. A 150-watt sound system is also thrown in, along with a power-operated tailgate and cruise control. The front seats are heated and trimmed in leather (well, leatherette, but nobody would know the difference) and fabric, while the touchscreen infotainment system comes with Apple CarPlay smartphone integration tech, but no Android Auto. Not ideal if, like most people, you use an Android phone.
In short, the Macan has everything you really need, but there are a few goodies you might want to add. Fortunately, there's still a huge array of options to choose from. Full leather upholstery is available, while there's any number of options for the exterior design, chassis and cabin - and that's before we come to colour schemes and alloy wheel designs. Even this base model is offered with a choice of 19 different wheel designs between 19- and 21 inches in diameter.
This entry-level Macan might not be the most capable version of Porsche's smallest SUV, and it certainly isn't the most exotic - but it is the best value. While the more powerful, noisier and sportier versions will tug at the heartstrings, the standard car is the one you buy with your head. And for 90 per cent of Macan buyers, it'll be the one that suits their needs best.
But whichever version you choose, the Macan is as brilliant as ever on the road, and it's still every inch the luxury good inside. A few rough edges could - and probably should - have been ironed out as part of the Macan's facelift, but rest assured this car is still among the best in its class.