New Porsche Macan T vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce
What happens when a sporting brand turns its hand to creating a sensible SUV? We spend a day at the races to find out...
NEW Porsche Macan T
List price £57,870
Target price £57,870
In this new T trim level, Porsche’s smallest SUV gains sporty adaptive suspension, among other racy accoutrements, while its 2.0-litre engine keeps one eye on running costs
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce
List price £54,525
Target price £52,170
The first SUV from Alfa Romeo is genuinely thrilling in fire-breathing Quadrifoglio form, but now it’s time for the slightly more sensible Veloce to prove that its heart is in the right place
Alfa Romeo and Porsche. Both sporting marques with bags of history behind them, with each still having a crack at furthering a record for racing greatness. Alfa Romeo has a Formula 1 team (for now), while Porsche competes in both Formula E and the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Of course, such competitive endeavours wouldn’t be possible without a steady flow of customers buying the two brands’ road cars, including Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio and Porsche’s Macan. And in turn, buyers probably wouldn’t be quite as enthusiastic about either of these models were they not imbued with a bit of that motorsport magic to set them apart from the rest of the SUV herd.
We’re testing the Macan in new T trim, which takes the entry-level model and gives it upgraded suspension and other performance-enhancing kit. You could think of it as a cut-price version of the very potent Macan GTS; on paper, it should have similar reflexes to that car, but it has a less brawny 261bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine.
Facing the Macan is a Stelvio in mid-range Veloce guise, with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine that makes a healthy 276bhp. Again, it should channel the racy spirit of its musclebound sister (in this case the 503bhp Stelvio Quadrifoglio), but at a much more palatable price.
Both of these cars promise to combine serious driver appeal with everyday practicality and relative affordability – not an easy trick to pull off. So, which will take the chequered flag and which will be left floundering in the pit lane?
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Even with relatively modest four-cylinder engines, neither car is short on performance; in fact, they’re capable of embarrassing plenty of hot hatches in a drag race.
Despite the Stelvio’s slight power advantage, there’s little to split the pair when it comes to acceleration from a standing start; the Macan trails its rival by just two-tenths of a second from 0-60mph, getting there in 5.9sec (versus 5.7sec). The Macan is helped here by a launch control system that comes as part of the standard Sport Chrono Pack, which is optional on some other Macans.
The Stelvio has a slightly bigger lead when it comes to rolling acceleration, getting from 30mph up to motorway speed in 5.4sec versus the Macan’s 5.8sec. However, you have to work the Stelvio’s engine hard to extract the best from it; in practice, when you’re simply pootling along in traffic, it’s the Macan that feels more flexible and relaxing to drive.
The Stelvio’s more frenetic manner is exacerbated by a super-responsive accelerator that makes the car feel very keen to get going. Once you’ve learnt to be measured with your inputs, though, you’ll appreciate how lively the engine is, especially when you want to make an overtake or simply go for a blast down a twisty road.
Like its accelerator, the Stelvio’s steering is very quick in comparison with the Macan’s and might initially come across as twitchy. However, once you’re used to it, you’ll be impressed with how quickly such a big car can change direction. Not that the Macan’s steering disappoints; its accuracy and consistent weighting inspire huge confidence.
In both cars, drive is sent to all four wheels via an automatic gearbox. The Stelvio shifts between its eight speeds smoothly and swiftly, but the Macan’s seven-speed dual-clutch set-up is even sharper and quicker to swap cogs, especially if you use the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel for manual control.
The Stelvio has a mechanical limited-slip rear differential that maximises traction out of corners and can send more power to the outside rear wheel to aid agility. You have to add Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (£1052 and fitted to our test car) to get a similar (but electronically controlled) set-up on the Macan.
In the Stelvio, you can really feel the power being shuffled around at the rear as you accelerate out of corners. It makes the car feel like it’s poised to pivot around you, although its stability control system prevents the tail from actually stepping out. As a result, the Stelvio feels more playful than the Macan.
The sensation is less pronounced in its rival, but it’s the Macan that feels more planted and has higher limits of grip. It also leans less through fast corners, with body movements kept under very tight control.
The Macan T comes with adaptive suspension, and in its softest (Comfort) setting, its ride is more composed over bumps than the Stelvio’s, as well as being more settled at motorway speeds. The Macan is also quieter at such speeds; the Stelvio has a coarser engine tone and you’ll hear a bit more wind noise from around its larger door mirrors.
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