2014 Porsche Macan S review

The Porsche Macan S is expected to account for just one in five sales of the SUV here in the UK, but is it a better buy than the S Diesel at the same price?...

2014 Porsche Macan S review

This turbocharged petrol Porsche Macan S is expected to account for just one in five sales of the new premium SUV in the UK.

Customers here will buy three times as many S Diesel models, which are the same price, but not quite as fast. So are these diesel fans all actually missing out on the better car?

What’s the Porsche Macan S like to drive?

Like all other Macans, the petrol S gets active four-wheel drive and a seven-speed, PDK automatic 'box as standard. Our test car was also fitted with the optional air suspension system, which includes PASM adaptive dampers that let you alter the firmness of the ride.

With up to 335bhp available, the Macan S accelerates quicker than a Porsche Cayman, although you have to wring out the petrol engine to make it feel anything more than brisk. Power is delivered smoothly, though, and it emits a great noise when you do accelerate.

The way the Macan handles makes its SUV rivals seem somewhat cumbersome. Light, precise steering that weights up reassuringly at speed lets you place the car accurately on the road. The wide tyres and four-wheel-drive system mean you need to be going ludicrously fast to run out of grip, too.

It also cruises with real composure, because the Macan rides brilliantly – as long as you specify the air suspension. It’s a pricey option at £1789, but it’s money well spent because it irons out all but the biggest bumps and ruts. Granted, the more substantial imperfections do thump through the cabin, but choosing smaller wheels (our test car had the largest 21-inch items) makes this less of an issue.

The worst consequence of the huge alloy wheels is the tyre rumble. On anything but perfect motorway, they can kick up a constant roar, which can get tiring over long distances. Otherwise, the Macan S is very refined - its engine is hushed at high speed and wind noise is well suppressed.

What’s the Porsche Macan S like inside?

At this price, you’ll be hard pressed to find a cabin that has a higher quality fit and finish. There are expensive, soft-touch materials covering almost every surface, and it feels solidly built.

Standard electrically adjustable leather and Alcantara seats mean it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. Most of the switches feel well damped, although whether you like the layout is a matter of personal taste. You’ll either like the fact that lots of functions have their own buttons, or you’ll prefer they were tidied away within a touch-screen menu.

The rear sets are less impressive, because there’s not as much legroom as you’ll find in a BMW X3. Headroom is fine if you don’t add the optional panoramic roof, but just be aware that adults in the back are likely to feel cramped.

Boot space isn’t as generous as in the X3, either, but it is at least a useful square shape, and comes with a standard electrically powered tailgate. The rear seats are a doddle to fold flat, too.

As we’ve come to expect from Porsche, standard equipment isn’t exactly generous. Audi’s SQ5 gets cruise control, Bluetooth and triple-zone climate control as standard, but these all cost extra in the Macan. That said, if you want xenon headlights, electric seats and a powered tailgate in the X3 (all of which the Macan gets as standard), you’ll need to spend £2330 more.

What’s more, Porsche’s adaptive dampers cost less than BMW’s, and adding adaptive cruise control to the Macan won’t cost any more than it would in the Audi. The Porsche doesn’t get sat-nav as standard, but neither do either of these premium rivals.

Should I buy one?

BMW’s X3 xDrive35d and Audi’s SQ5 both cost more than the Macan S on paper, but after discounts you’ll be able to get them for around £40,000. What’s more, they both come with more useful standard equipment – even if the Macan has more luxuries.

The Macan doesn’t just offer sports car performance, though. It’s also a great all-rounder – playing the relaxing cruiser on the motorway and offering decent practicality when you need it.

The car's biggest problem, in fact, is its diesel stablemate, because the Macan S Diesel is no slower in the real world and will be cheaper to run, either as a private buyer or as a company car chooser. The Macan S might appeal to purists, but strong though it is, it's far from being the most sensible option on a number of levels.

What Car? says…

Audi SQ5
BMW X3 xDrive35d

Porsche Macan S

Engine size 3.0-litre V6 petrol

Price from £43,300

Power 335bhp

Torque 339lb ft

0-62mph 5.4 seconds

Top speed 158mph

Fuel economy 31.4mpg

CO2 emissions 204g/km