Overall rating: 5/5
The Macan S Diesel is the only version of Porsche's new compact SUV that has a chance of selling in Ireland, but buyers won't feel short-changed in the least.
In the metal 4/5
S Diesel, S or Turbo the Macans all looks broadly similar, the S Diesel losing nothing to its petrol relation in the styling department. Not quite as extrovert as the Turbo, the S Diesel's tailpipes are arguably better looking than the fared-in Turbo items, while the blades along the S Diesel's flanks benefit from contrasting colours, which slims the Macan's profile. It's a good looking car whatever way you look at it, the Macan's smaller, squatter shapes suiting Porsche's genetic styling cues. The sculpted, clamshell bonnet is a very attractive element, as are the rakish profile, unadorned boot lid and wide rear haunches.
Inside too Porsche has taken its signature styling and applied it successfully to the Macan. So the instrument dials are dominated by the rev counter, while the centre console and high transmission tunnel feature all the controls for the infotainment, climate and driving functions. It's all very neat and familiar. The transmission tunnel is topped with an automatic gearstick as the Macan is only offered with Porsche's PDK transmission. The boot's a decent size, but adults might find space a bit tight in the rear on longer journeys.
Driving it 5/5
Underneath that Porsche exterior and interior is a platform that shares some of its DNA with Audi's Q5. Porsche is quick to point out that over two thirds of the components are unique to the Macan, and that those that are shared have been significantly revised. That's immediately obvious when on the road, the Macan dynamics in another sphere altogether to its distant Audi cousin. The suspension, standard steel springs with optional PASM dampers (Porsche Active Suspension Management) rides with beautiful composure, reining in any unwanted body movements yet providing supple ride comfort. It achieves that remarkable comfort without any real compromise, the steering being nicely weighted with immediate response and there's even some feel through the wheel's rim. The wheel itself is borrowed from Porsche's 918 Spyder, being both visually appealing and a tactile treat.
It's not just the chassis that impresses though; the turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel engine delivers both ample urge and remarkable refinement. Even pushed up to its 5,200rpm redline it's barely audible in the cabin, its smoothness more akin to a petrol engine's than a turbodiesel's. It's complemented by Porsche's seven-speed PDK twin-clutch transmission, which shifts imperceptibly in auto mode. Indeed, the changes are only felt if you opt for more aggressive shifts via the Sport or Sport Plus modes. To get the latter you'll need the optional Sport Chrono pack, which also drops the 0-100km/h time from 6.3- to 6.1 seconds.
The engine's smoothness and flexibility - and that transmission - make for any-rev response and speed. Indeed, the S Diesel's engine only runs out of accelerative punch when reaching its quoted 230km/h maximum on German's speed-enlightened Autobahns. It's stable and refined doing so too, Porsche's engineers having created a car of impressive depth of ability.
Away from the autobahns and on more interesting roads the Macan feels neutral when pushed hard, its four-wheel drive system putting power to whatever axle can best use it, and more often than not it's the rear. That makes for agility that's pretty much unique in the SUV class, it possible to exit bends with a touch of corrective lock. That's very Porsche, and hugely entertaining.
What you get for your money 3/5
The list price is pretty much a starting point, though as standard the Macan S Diesel comes respectably, if not particularly generously, equipped. You'll want Porsche Communication Management with satnav and Bluetooth at several thousand Euros though, and a modest amount of option ticking on Porsche's configurator will add tens of thousands to the list price fairly quickly.
Porsche has sold out its first year's allocation of 50,000 units from the Leipzig production facility. Output can be pushed to 100,000 annually, and it looks like it'll need it.
Economy on the S Diesel is 46.3mpg on standard wheels and tyres, that dropping to 44.8mpg on the optional larger wheel and tyre packages - CO2 output increases from 159- to 164g/km accordingly. The latter has no effect on annual road tax or VRT thankfully.
It might be the most economical model, and certain to be the only seller in Ireland, but the Macan S Diesel is imbued with the same sporting genes at its core as the rest of the Macan - and indeed the Porsche - range. Very much a Porsche SUV, that's immediately catapulted itself to the top of the class for driver involvement and dynamics. Add in its superb refinement and it's a difficult package to fault, though you need deep pockets to access it.