A FACELIFT WITH PLENTY OF CHEEK

PORSCHE MACAN S

CAMERON KIRBY

PORSCHE MACANS

Model Porsche Macan S

Engine 2995cc V6 (90°), dohc, 24v, turbo

Max power 260kW @ 5400-6400rpm

Max torque 480Nm @ 1360-4800rpm

Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch

Weight 1865kg

0-100km/h 5.3sec (claimed) Fuel economy 8.9L/100km

Price $97,500

On sale Now

PLUS

Steering, sports-car dynamics and pace, improved NVH

MINUS

Dull exhaust note, cramped rear seats, lacks standard AEB

IF WE’RE TO believe the advertising campaign for the new Porsche Macan, it’s all about the butt. Cheeky ads in major newspapers and on outdoor billboards feature the premium SUV’s admittedly well-proportioned rear end in all its shapely glory, challenging buyers to “give those behind something to appreciate.”

Fortunately, for fans of the Stuttgart marque, there’s much more to the Macan’s mid-life update than a butt lift.

Porsche did an impressive job straight out of the box with its mid-size luxury SUV, building a suburban hero with a sporting double life that not only went straight to the top of the company’s sales charts, but also took the mantle as the segment’s most dynamically adept performer.

Other contenders may have carried more people in comfort, had more power, or been quicker to 100km/h, but the Macan has been the undeniable choice for those who place a premium on driving enjoyment.

Now, in an attempt to stay in front of the pack, Porsche has facelifted the Macan and added a new engine.

Spotting a facelifted Macan from the front will take a well-trained eye, with the lack of obvious fog lights and new LED headlights the tell-tale signs. But from behind it’s that much-vaunted LED brake light stretching from one curvaceous hip to the other that delivers the good ass new message.

Other changes include refinements to the aero, suspension, brakes, PDK gearbox, and a bigger 10.9-inch infotainment screen.

The most significant mechanical change is reserved for the single model we drove at launch, the Macan S. It features a new Porsche-developed single-turbo 3.0-litre V6, the same unit fitted to VW-group sibling the Audi SQ5.

Despite losing a turbocharger compared to the pre-facelift model, the Macan S gains 10kW and 20Nm, meaning 260kW and 480Nm delivered to all four paws via a seven-speed PDK.

Propelling the car to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds, the engine provides healthy doses of low-end torque, with all 480Nm arriving at just 1600rpm. Peak power doesn’t kick in until 5400rpm but the PDK is calibrated to keep the engine in its sweet spot, ensuring stout acceleration is on tap at any time.

Unfortunately, despite the engine’s obvious verve, the Macan’s exhaust note is dull, and a bit synthetic (Porsche assures us none of it is plumbed through speakers). An optional sports exhaust is available, but we doubt even that will have you rolling down the windows for an operatic blast.

Despite its almost two-tonne kerb weight, the S revels in the bends, with sublime turn-in and contained bodyroll. Pitch control is also excellent for a car of this stature, and mid-corner bumps are despatched with poise.

Three-stage adaptive dampers are standard and, while the softest ‘Comfort’ mode provides the smoothest ride, both ‘Sport’, and ‘Sport+’ are perfectly useable in the real-world.

Ride quality of cars on the standard 20-inch rims proved markedly superior to those on the optional 21s, which are a bit of a punish on all but the smoothest surfaces.

The Macan S will be priced at $97,500, while an entry-level fourcylinder Macan will soon be in dealers with an $81,400 asking price. When fully fleshed out, the 2019 range will mimic what is currently available – minus diesels – with hotter GTS and Turbo offerings capping the line-up.

There is one more ‘but’, however, because AEB remains an option, bundled with adaptive cruise control. Safety tech that’s standard on many lesser cars simply shouldn’t be an extra at this price point.

MACAN’T BE BEATEN

Plenty have tried to claim the Stuttgart SUV’s dynamic scalp since the Macan burst onto the scene in 2014, including Jaguar’s F-Pace, the Range Rover Velar, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 and 63 siblings, Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio and Volvo’s COTY-winning XC60. But in a five-car comparison last year, which included a Macan Turbo, it was always the Porsche that impressed us the most. The new Macan S pushes that dynamic benchmark further, slapping the gauntlet in the faces of its prestige rivals.

CAMERON KIRBY