Rovaniemi, FINLAND – As I pull away, the Porsche Macan crushes the snow underneath its four winter tyres. It is an indicated -5° Celsius outside, but my driving partner and I are snug and warm inside the luxurious and well-appointed cabin, which is basically on the same level as that of the more expensive Cayenne SUV.
The interior is more compact, but the result is that in terms of an SUV, the car feels more part of you than a vehicle like the Cayenne. We can’t quite deploy all the available performance in these conditions, but that opportunity will hopefully present itself once this model arrives in South Africa.
Until now, the Macan Turbo was Porsche’s sportiest compact SUV, but the brand has just upped the ante with the optional Performance Pack. It is thorough update, though. Not only does it include a lowered sport chassis, uprated braking system (front discs are 30 mm larger at 390 mm, compared to the standard Turbo), Sports Chrono Package and a sports exhaust system fitted as standard, but the engine has been tweaked to deliver an additional 30 kW and 50 N.m.
This brings the total to 324 kW and a pleasingly round 600 N.m – which means it is now on par with the output of the Cayenne GTS! Equipped with Porsche’s 7-speed double-clutch transmission (PDK), shifts are instantaneous. Press the exhaust note button, and the deep tone from the quad tailpipes becomes slightly louder, too.
On the snowy roads of north Finland, there wasn’t much chance to fully exploit the Macan’s bolstered performance, particularly in terms of cornering. Still, the conditions encouraged a certain level of playfulness. Indeed, with most of the torque being sent to the rear axle, it proved simple to coax the car into a drift, even at low speeds.
When grip levels were higher, the rev needle gamely swung round the clock to its 6 800 r/min redline. Equipped with carbon ceramic brakes, I found the anchors to be sensitive and immediate, perfect for when you’re feeling enthusiastic behind the wheel. On the highway, too, the Macan can hold its own since it rides with a level of comfort that is combined with the sort of surefootedness we have come to expect from this SUV.
This model will cost R120 000 more than the Turbo, but taking into account what you get for the money, it must surely be the performance Macan to pick. Furthermore, although it costs more than the entry-level 911, it now boasts significantly more power and torque, while its claimed dash to 100 km/h is a fraction faster (but the iconic sports car still pips the Macan in terms of top speed).
Still, it shows you just how far Porsche’s compact SUV has come…
Price:R1 540 000
Engine:3,6-litre, V6, turbopetrol
Power:324 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque:600 N.m from 1 500 r/min
0-100 km/h:4,4 seconds
Top Speed:272 km/h
Fuel Consumption:9,4 L/100 km
Maintenance Plan:3-year/90 000 km maintenance plan
Notes:* All claimed figures