Diesel’s out and petrol’s in for the new entry-level Porsche Macan SUV, but how does it compare?
In one sense the range of upgrades applied to the 2019-model year Porsche Macan are very much of the “blink and you’ll miss it” formula.
Yes, the styling has been tickled around the hind quarters to bring the overall look more in line with that of the 911 and Panamera. And yes, the interior design has been tweaked to include a slightly more expansive infotainment system.
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Fundamentally, though, Porsche’s highly successful Range Rover Evoque rival remains much as it was when it was introduced to wide acclaim in 2014 – since when it has sold in numbers that even Porsche has been pleasantly surprised by. Except for one key detail: the diesel version is now no longer available.
Instead, Porsche now offers a 2.0-litre petrol model in its place, and this tells you all you need to know about where the diesel market is heading these days. For the record, Porsche now offers precisely zero cars powered by the engine designed by Rudolf Diesel in 1893.
As such, the cheapest and most frugal Macan is now propelled by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine – essentially the same motor that appears in everything from a VW Golf GTI to an Audi TT to a SEAT Ateca. This is not a brand new concept for the Macan, because the engine was previously available via special order in the UK. It’s just that not many punters went for it when there was a far torquier turbodiesel on offer.
Now, though, this is where the Macan entry point sits in the UK, and while the petrol engine might lack a bit of low-down grunt compared with the diesel, there is much to like about it as well. Not least of which is its lack of weight it carries beside the diesel; the “Macan” – as the 2.0 model is simply titled – weighs a fraction less than 1,800kg, which is impressive when you consider how much room it offers and how much kit comes as standard.
What’s perhaps less impressive is the power output of the engine, at least on paper. Porsche claims a mere 242bhp at 5000rpm, which is well down on what this same motor produces in many other VW Group installations. Surely when installed in a Porsche SUV, rather than a SEAT, VW’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre petrol turbo should produce the most power of all?
Perhaps not, because instead the engine has been tuned to produce as much torque as possible, and at as few revs as possible – it manages 370Nm at 1,600rpm – while at the same time burning as little fuel as possible. It returns almost 35mpg and emits just 185g/km of CO2. As a range of attributes, these make the entry-level Macan look decently competitive on paper.
On the road it is better than ever to drive, with uprated suspension and some minor revisions to the steering and drivetrain to make it sweeter from behind the wheel. It’s also not particularly slow either, despite the shortage of cubic capacity. It’ll crach 0-62mph in 6.7sec, or 6.5sec if you spec the optional Sports Chrono package. Either way, the fact that there are only four cylinders and 2.0 litres beneath the bonnet doesn’t seem to have blunted the real-world performance.
Get the engine spinning at anything above 2,000rpm and the response is surprisingly strong, even if the exhaust note isn’t especially memorable. There is little or no turbo lag, and the way the engine combines with the superb seven-speed PDK gearbox ensures that there’s always just enough thrust on tap, without there ever being too much.
Inside the 2019 Macan it is very much business as usual, albeit with a couple of minor tweaks to the infotainment system. So there’s a good but not class-leading amount of space in the rear seats and boot, excellent build quality throughout, a surprisingly decent amount of kit and tech as standard. You also get the same excellent driving position that defined the car on its launch four years ago.
Overall, then, even the most modest of upgrades is enough to ensure that the Macan is still the best mid-sized premium SUV that money can buy.
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