Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: February 20, 2022
Let’s be real. The majority of compact SUV buyers don’t care about what’s under the hood. Engines and driving dynamics take a back seat to price, cargo capacity, and tech features. So it’s no wonder why the base Porsche Macan is the volume selling trim in Canada. Fact of the matter is, if you don’t give a hoot about how an SUV drives, handles, or accelerates, then the base Macan is all you will ever need. But if you do care, and do enjoy a spirited run up your favourite backroads, then the Macan S and its more engaging V6 is the one to have. There, review done. Want to find out how we came to this conclusion? Well then keep reading.
Over the years, our team has driven and evaluated every trim of the Macan except for the base model. Weird, right? Not a terrible problem to have considering how engaging and thrilling the S, GTS, and now defunct Turbo models were to drive, but it’s also humbling and eye-opening to spend time with the cheapest and most popular model.
The Macan has received some minor revisions for 2022. There are new front and rear bumpers that give off Hannibal Lectre vibes, new side mirrors, as well as new wheel designs. And like the Taycan Cross Turismo that Porsche recently sent us, our Macan was also wrapped in the same Year of the Tiger theme to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
The base Macan’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder has been fitted with a larger turbocharger and redesigned internals, strengthening the output by 13 hp and 22 lb-ft of torque. In total, it produces 261 hp and 295 lb-ft through a 7-speed dual-clutch PDK gearbox and all-wheel drive. The Macan also comes standard with 19-inch wheels, up from 18s.
Inside comes a few noticeable upgrades, finally bringing the Macan up to the modern Porsche design language. That includes a new steering wheel, which still takes on a small diameter shape but it feels premium - good to know it’s just about the same one you get in the 911. And we love how they cleverly integrated the heated steering wheel button to a small area behind the bottom wheel spoke, instead of plastering it right in the middle and ruining the aesthetic like how BMW does it.
The gear shifter is also new - a little shorter and stubbier than before - but you can’t knock it to the left to engage manual shifting anymore. Rowing the gears is only controlled via the paddle shifters now. That OCD-arrangement of clicky hard buttons on the center console has also been exiled in place of a glass-like panel with the haptic buttons illuminated underneath, much like in the Cayenne and Taycan. While the outgoing buttons didn’t exactly fit the upscale vibe and atmosphere, they worked incredibly well, left little ambiguity on the table in terms of input recognition, and they were ergonomically sound and arranged. The new panel is a little trickier without noticeable grooves to distinguish what you’re pressing. It forces you to take your eyes off the road to hit the intended button, and the panel is constantly marred by your oily fingerprints.
The rest of the switchgear and interior appointments are first-rate, and the wide touchscreen remains with its straight-forward menus and clean design. The screen’s integration into the dashboard is more ergonomic than the one in the Taycan as well. But keep in mind that while the base model may be the most popular and it does start at an appealing $58,500, remember that Porsche nickels and dimes for nearly every desirable option, and our specific test vehicle rang up at $75,400 before taxes and destination fees.
We only had the Macan for a weekend but it was all we really needed to experience the new upgrades and revisions. The big takeaway from our time with the base model and its 2.0-litre turbo-four? Skip it and go straight to the S with the V6. Yeah, it’s about $12,100 more but you also get an excess of 100 additional horsepower - more than worth it if you ask us.
The four-cylinder is a lively and willing companion, and it’s still able to sprint from 0-100 km/h in a decent 6.4 seconds, but you will spend most of your time with your foot firmly planted to the ground and waiting for the turbo to spool up in time to make your highway overtake. There’s just that little bit of lag when pressing on the gas pedal, especially when you catch it sleeping in the wrong gear. Otherwise the dual-clutch fires off shifts with rapid urgency, and while Sport Mode remaps the throttle and gearing for better response, we didn’t find much use for it as the default settings were spirtely enough.
The four-cylinder makes a decent exhaust grunt under acceleration too, but it’s not nearly as sonically pleasing as an AMG. But the major drawback with the four-cylinder is the heavy and intrusive vibration you feel as the engine is at work, even under mild throttle application. And you feel it rumbling not just through your seat, but when resting your foot on the gas pedal. The powertrains underpinning the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC are significantly smoother and more polished by comparison.
It’s not an inferior engine in any significant way though, and those migrating over from other four-pot driven compact SUVs won’t have any issue with it, but it doesn’t seem to suit the Macan very well, especially when its chassis and steering push you to drive hard and fast. It’s like eating a Michelin three-star meal with plastic utensils from Walmart. The same criticism can be had with the four-cylinder-powered Jaguar F-Pace. When stuck at the crossroads, always opt for the bigger engine, and the Macan is just begging for a V6.
The front end is lighter than the Macan S but it is not that much more agile or responsive. The steering is full of feel but the ride is terribly stiff, so while it stays grounded and secure on smooth tarmac, it becomes jarring and taxing on bumpy roads and when hitting expansion joints and potholes. On the bright side, it does feel like a sports SUV through and through. But if ride quality and comfort are top priorities, then other SUVs like the Range Rover Evoque and even the Alfa Romeo Stelvio do a better job.
Keep in mind that these will probably be the last few combustion-powered Macans rolling off the factory floor, as Porsche plans to convert their smallest SUV into a fully electric variant in the next few years. That’s not a bad thing in the slightest judging by how dynamic and engaging they have engineered the Taycan to be. But in the mean time, the base Macan is a thoroughly satisfying sports SUV with an improved and meticulously crafted interior, but it’s one that puts priority on driver involvement over ride comfort.
Model: 2022 Porsche Macan
Paint Type: Custom Lunar New Year wrap (Year of the Tiger)
Base Price: $58,500
Price as Tested: $75,440
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,726 / 1,922 / 1,621
Unladen weight (kg): 1,920
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 261 hp @ 5,000 - 6,500 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 1,800 - 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.3