THERE may be two Porsche Macan compact SUV models, both with turbocharged V6 petrol engines, but only one is called the Macan Turbo. The other is the Macan S. The Macan Turbo is, for now, the top-of-the-line Macan with a newly developed 3.6-litre V6 twin turbo petrol engine producing 400 hp and 550 Nm. But the Macan S also has a similar power plant - a 3.0-litre V6 twin turbo with 340 hp and 460 Nm.
To differentiate them more clearly, Porsche has specified the Macan Turbo with more equipment and a plusher cabin. And this is reflected in the kerb weight of each variant - 1,925 kg for the Turbo versus 1,865 kg for the S.
Still, the Macan S is a very nice luxury SUV with a beautiful interior. The Macan is based on the Audi Q5 but with two-thirds of its components changed to deliver a car that drives like a Porsche. Key to this difference is the Macan's suspension tuning. Although it retains the same suspension architecture as the Q5, Porsche has new dampers and springs for better handling. And to improve steering feel, the bearings were changed too. It shows on the road. Compared with the Audi SQ5 with a 3.0-litre V6 supercharged engine, the Macan S has superior handling. There is virtually no high-speed float on the autobahn, with superb composure displayed in sweeping curves.
Even then, the Macan S is more softly sprung than the Macan Turbo.
Compared with the Turbo, however, the S can be a more involving drive. It has slightly better steering feel and gives the perception of being lighter off its feet. Whatever the onroad differences, both the Macan S and Macan Turbo are full-fledged offroaders. Like the bigger Porsche Cayenne SUV, the Macan has permanent all-wheel-drive featuring PTM Porsche Traction Management. This active all-wheel-drive system is predominantly rear-wheel-drive. But when road conditions dictate, it can transfer 100 per cent of the torque to the front wheels through the electronically controlled multi-plate clutch.
But the Macan also comes with an off-road mode as standard. When activated, it works within a range of zero to 80 kmh and together with the Porsche Hill Control hill descent feature, vehicle speed can be kept constant when going downhill between three and 30 kmh. Both these functions allow the Macan S to traverse muddy roads, deep ruts and steep inclines with aplomb. It has a ground clearance of 198mm, an approach angle of 24.8 degrees and a departure angle of 23.6 degrees.
To maximise traction under off-road circumstances, the seven-speed PDK double-clutch transmission modifies its shift speeds while the multi-plate clutch is pre-tensioned further to send torque to the front axle for quickly.
All this was demonstrated on Porsche's off-road course at its Leipzig factory recently. The Macan S climbed and dropped, as well as rocked and rolled through all sorts of bumpy and dirty conditions that a Porsche owner here would never dream of driving into. Still, it's nice to know that it can if someone wanted to.
Porsche Macan S
Engine 2,997 cc V6 turbocharged
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch
Max power 340 hp @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
Max torque 460 Nm @ 1,450-5,000 rpm
0-100 kmh 5.4 secs
Top speed 254 kmh
CO2 emissions 212 g/km
Price from $258,888 (w/o COE)
Distributor Stuttgart Auto
Tel 6363 0911