What is it?
The last of its kind.
Porsche has made no secret that the future of its Macan mid-size SUV is electric. So this latest Macan Turbo represents the end of an era for the brand, the last petrol-powered performance version.
But what a great way to end it, this is a masterpiece of modern performance cars. Go-fast SUVs have become increasingly popular over recent years, especially with the European premium brands, and Porsche has nailed the concept with the Macan Turbo.
It blends performance with luxury in just the right amounts to make this both an everyday family hauler but also a genuinely enjoyable and exciting driving experience.
Does it have any racing pedigree?
The Macan is one of the few Porsche's without any motorsport heritage – for obvious reasons. But that doesn't mean it isn't capable of hitting a track, in fact it's one of the few SUVs I'd be keen to take for some hot laps to fully test its dynamic capabilities.
What's under the bonnet?
The name Macan Turbo is a bit of a misnomer because there's actually a pair of them nestled inside the engine bay. They‘re attached to a 2.9-litre V6, part of a new modular V6/V8 engine family developed by Porsche for the Volkswagen Group.
It replaces the old Macan Turbo's bigger 3.6-litre turbocharged six, but despite the downsizing power is up by 30kW. The new Macan Turbo makes 324kW and 550Nm of torque, enough to propel the five-seat hauler from zero to 100km/h in just 4.3secs.
The turbochargers are housed within the V of the cylinders, while the exhaust manifold is integrated into the cylinder head which Porsche claims allows for a faster build-up of power, thus reducing turbo lag.
Certainly from the driver's perspective the engine feels responsive and potent. With peak torque available from just 1800rpm it feels strong from right down low in the rev range and pulls strong and steady all the way to the redline.
It makes a nice note too, for an SUV, with a purposeful burble and growl as you flex the V6.
It's paired with Porsche's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, that does a nice job of rapidly firing through the gears when you demand maximum performance. But it can also smoothly handle the around town work that an SUV is also required to do.
It isn't the most frugal SUV you'll find, using a claimed 9.8-litres per 100km on the combined city/highway cycle, but that's a solid return for such a powerful engine.
How does it handle?
The idea of a ‘performance SUV' was laughable only a few years ago – and, in truth, many that claim to be are a bit of a let down. Not the Macan Turbo, it genuinely lives up to its billing as the performance flagship of the German brand's mid-size SUV range.
It isn't light, tipping the scales at 1945kg, but the engine overcomes the mass with minimal fuss and the work done on the handling by the Porsche engineers is impressive.
Adaptive air suspension with Porsche's Active Suspension Management system (PASM) comes fitted as standard to the Turbo, which helps make it a more agile machine than its size suggests.
In it's softer settings it does a good job of soaking up bumps in the road at urban speeds, even with the standard 21-inch alloy wheels.
What's more the combination of the clever suspension, excellent steering and grippy Continental tyres makes the Turbo feel engaging for the driver, responding to inputs with precision and speed.
If there's a criticism it's that in its more dynamic Sport and Sports Plus suspension settings it is quite stiffly sprung, so it can get caught out at times on less-than-perfect road conditions. We found ourselves surprised by the occasional mid-corner bump that can unsettle the SUV. The simple fix for that is to simply leave the suspension in the more comfortable and compliant Normal settings on public roads, even if you are pressing on, and leave the Sport settings for the special occasions you're on a properly paved stretch of tarmac.
The brakes are massive 390mm rotors on the front clamped by six-piston calipers, and 356mm at the rear, providing excellent stopping power that's both strong and consistent.
Where would you most like to drive it?
The Macan Turbo is ideally suited to a fast, flowing country road (preferably with smooth, freshly-laid tarmac), so it would make a great companion for a country road trip. Somewhere like New South Wales' Hunter Valley region, with its blend of wide open spaces and occasionally twisty back roads.
The beauty of the Macan is that it has the space for you to bring the family or your friends so you could make a long weekend out of such a drive.
What's the interior like?
Trademark Porsche – clean, modern and methodical in its design and execution. There's a thick-rimmed steering wheel with metallic paddle shifters, supportive sports seats and our test car included carbon fibre inlays for that sporty touch.
The way the switchgear is laid out, in neat rows between the driver and passenger, looks quite busy but is actually very user-friendly. The same is true of the brand's infotainment system, which despite the links to VW Group remains a bespoke Porsche interface. It's one of the easiest-to-use of its kind, with simple manners and adaptive touchscreen.
While obviously not as big as the Cayenne, the Macan has adequate space in the rear for a young family and a respectable 488-litre boot.
Is it good value for money?
Priced from $142,000 (plus on-road costs) the Macan Turbo is almost double the price of the entry-level Macan at $81,800. However, that doesn't stop the Macan Turbo arguably being one of the best value SUVs of its kind.
For the money you are getting one of the fastest and most engaging SUVs you can drive, but you're also getting a comfortable, practical and luxurious SUV too. It really does provide the best of both worlds.
Would I buy one?
I'd be very happy to park the Macan Turbo in my driveway on a permanent basis. It really does offer something for the whole family while still making the driver feel special every time you get behind the wheel.
It's a shame Porsche won't build vehicles like this forever (although the brand has said it will continue the petrol-powered Macan alongside the next-gen EV for a unspecified period), but I must admit I'm looking forward to the next generation to see how Porsche uses electric performance in an SUV because it has great potential.
In the meantime, I'll enjoy vehicles like the Macan Turbo while I can.
2020 Porsche Macan Turbo price and specifications
|From $142,000 plus on-road costs
|2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol
|324kW at 5700-6600rpm
|550Nm at 1800-5600rpm
|7-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
|265/40 ZR21 front, 295/35 ZR21 rear
|4.3 secs (claimed)