2017 Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package review

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THE GOOD: A dynamic standout, with fierce acceleration, poised handling and real feel. It’s sharp-looking, too.

THE BAD: Slighty dated infotainment, an astronomical price tag and middling efficiency means this model won’t be for everyone.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A very special compact crossover SUV for those with very special wallets.

Before we go any further, you need to know one number related to the blue beauty seen here. No, it’s not 440 — the amount of horsepower this particular 2017 Porsche MacanTurbo has. Nor is it 4.2, which is how quick this little crossover SUV is to 60 miles per hour. It’s not even 169 — its top speed. It’s 96. As in Ninety-Six Thousand Dollars.

I’m going to pause to give you a second or two to absorb that number.

It wasn’t all that long ago that people wondered if buyers would pay 50 grand for a Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, mostly because it was so small. And here we are, just seven years later, and Stuttgart is asking nearly double that amount for this compact CUV.

And you know what? Porsche isn’t crazy.

2017 Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package

Of course, this isn’t just a regular Macan — those start at $47,800 (*plus $1,050 delivery), or the $68,900* enthusiast-oriented GTS. It’s not even a regular Turbo, which is ordinarily the range’s top model, at $77,200.* It’s the brand-new Macan Turbo with Performance Package, which gives its twin-turbo, 3.6-liter V6 442 pound-feet of torque — 36 more than the standard Turbo — as well as 40 additional horses. Plus, it’s got a lowered chassis, sports exhaust and even bigger brakes to handle that extra muscle.

The result? The Macan Turbo PP isn’t really a conventional luxury crossover at all, and it certainly isn’t a rough-stuff SUV. Think of it as a 4,300-pound, all-wheel-drive sports car that’ll let you throw a mountain bike in the back and still close the hatch.

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Listen, I’m not talking strictly numbers here. Those figures I mentioned earlier — 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds and 169 mph? Those are very similar to that of Porsche’s own 718 Cayman S, and nobody’s ever going to take issue with that model’s sterling sports car credentials. But anyone can throw a big engine in an SUV and generate spectacular numbers. Just ask Jeep. I’m talking feel. That intangible, tactile, almost magical quality that transcends spec sheets and lights your soul afire. The Macan Turbo? It does that better than just about any utility vehicle I’ve ever driven.

This thing corners as flatly as a proper sport sedan, and you can feel what it’s doing through your backside, the pedals and the wheel. Even without Porsche’s costly optional carbon-ceramic binders, the Macan will detach your retinas under full braking as often as you like, and the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox fires off shifts as quickly as you can call for them. This one rides on ridiculously large optional 21-inch alloys, and while the air-suspended ride is firmer, it’s no worse than key rivals.

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Yes, spanning just 184.7 inches long, the Macan is on the small side, so it doesn’t have quite the same utility as some rivals, either in cabin space or — particularly — in cargo room (17.7 cubic-feet with the seats up or 53 with them stowed). However, that tidy footprint partially explains how this Porsche changes direction with an athleticism you just don’t find in the segment — even compared to performance-minded gems like Jaguar’s F-Pace and Audi’s SQ5. To drive home the whole experience, the Macan sounds properly snarly with its dual-mode exhaust cracked open, and its sport seats hug you just right.

While I’m on the topic of those seats, the cabin that surrounds them is a pretty nice place to spend time. Material quality and fit and finish are very good, though that carpet of transmission tunnel buttons that covers everything from HVAC settings to the active exhaust baffles takes some familiarization. Speaking of which, I’m still not a fan of the company’s obsession with hard-click switchgear, but it’s something you get used to.

2017 Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package

Less convincing is the Macan’s Porsche Communication Management infotainment system, which lacks the sharp widescreen setup of newer models like the 2018 Panamera. Beyond its occasionally bland graphics, the main problem is that the touchscreen’s modest 7-inch dimensions don’t allow for multiple types of information to be easily simultaneously displayed. Want to have the map up and see what’s playing on satellite radio? You’ll need to glance at the small configurable TFT screen in the gauge cluster for one or the other. At least the system is compatible with Apple CarPlay. Android Auto? Not so much.

In fact, at an as-tested price of $96,295 delivered, this Macan still doesn’t have an upgraded stereo, panoramic roof, premium leather treatments, or any number of other features from Porsche’s legendarily lengthy options list. With options like the aforementioned 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheels wrapped in Continental summer rubber ($3,300) and a Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus electronically locking differential ($1,500), this test vehicle has clearly been spec’d for driving enthusiasts, not sybarites. That’s generally fine by me, but even so, there are still some basic boxes I’d check, like keyless go (“Entry & Drive” in Porschese).

Porsche Macan Turbo in

Adding to the pain is fuel economy, which is listed at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg highway for the standard Macan Turbo. This higher-power Performance Package model has yet to receive EPA ratings, but considering that its engine runs more boost, if anything, those figures are likely to drop slightly. I saw an average of 17.4 mpg in spirited mixed driving.

2017 Porsche Macan with Performance Package - profile view

So the Macan Turbo PP’s utility and tech aren’t particularly strong, and given the model’s $87,700* base price, neither is its value equation.

But maybe it’s all a matter of perspective.

At some point, both consumers and the automotive media decided that when it comes to car buying, “smaller” is a synonym for “less expensive.” That’s almost always been true with sedans, pickups, and crossover SUVs. But neither group assumes the same thing when it comes to sports cars. So why should shoppers put a ton of stock in those things when it comes to a crossover that drives like sports car?

As it turns out, many of them don’t. The Macan is actually one of Porsche’s oldest models, yet so far this year, it’s outselling the Porsche 718 BoxsterCayman911 and Panamera. Combined.

Drive one, and you’ll understand why.

(cnet.com, https://goo.gl/bE9TbL)

 

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