2020 Porsche Macan Turbo review: SUV functionality, sports car soul
As much as you might love to drive a sports car like a Porsche 911 , Boxster or Cayman all day, every day, until the end of time, life doesn't always make that a practical option. Running errands, schlepping kids and dealing with four seasons can prove challenging. That's where the Porsche Macan comes in.
Porsche's compact SUV delivers a big dollop of practicality with performance-carlike thrills in every trim. That latter part is especially true with this top-level Macan Turbo. After briefly sitting on the sidelines as its lesser Macan siblings received updates first, the range-topping Turbo returns for 2020 sporting fresh styling, better tech and a more potent engine under the hood.
To stylistically set itself apart from other Macans, the Turbo wears a specific front fascia with larger air intakes, higher marker lights and adaptive LED headlights. Altering its profile view are Sport Design mirrors and rockers and a unique rear spoiler. The whole package rides on standard 20-inch wheels, though the car pictured here wears even bigger, optional, 21-inch Sport Classic rims. I know some people believe you can never have too much wheel on a car, but I do, and this Porsche is a prime example. You can't not focus on those monster wheels.
The Turbo's cabin is nicely trimmed with supple, stitched leather covering the seats, dashboard and door panels, as well as an Alcantara headliner. It also scores high on the comfort charts with 18-way front seats with deep bolsters to keep riders in place. Insulation from wind and road noise is also excellent and, surprisingly, there's not much tire noise to speak of besides the occasional thud over a big bump.
Front passenger space is generous enough for adults, while the rear quarters are snugger, but passable for average-size humans. A 17.7-cubic-feet trunk area will do the job for most weekly grocery shopping expeditions. If you need more than that, folding the rear seats down enlarges the space to 53 cubic feet for bulk buying or when you need to move bigger things. A small convenience feature missing from the Macan is the ability to easily fold the rear seatbacks down from the trunk. Instead you need to walk around to both rear doors to flip them forward, which isn't a huge deal, it's just that many SUVs now offer a lever in back to do that now so it's something I miss when I don't have it.
Unfortunately, the Macan's center console didn't get an update. It's still the button-busy island from before, though each control is clearly marked, and it's easy to work through after getting acclimated to this design. Give me hard buttons any day of the week over having to sift through menus to change things in a touchscreen, but the setup does look dated, especially compared with the smooth, backlit haptic controls you'll find in the Cayenne , Panamera and so on.
What's not long in the tooth is the Macan's infotainment system. The Porsche Communication Management (PCM) setup is stellar, with a responsive, intuitive and vibrant 10.9-inch touchscreen. It features a reconfigurable home display and controls a rocking 14-speaker Bose audio setup. You also get standard navigation with real-time traffic, a Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth. PCM can also run Apple CarPlay, but not Android Auto, though Porsche says it's considering adding it in the future.
To keep smart devices nice and happy, the Turbo boasts two USB-C ports, a 12-volt outlet and an optional wireless charge pad up front, while in back there's an additional pair of USB-Cs within easy reach on the back of the center console.
Your typical list of active safety technology features is also available, and in typical Porsche fashion, you'll have to pay for them. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, lane-change assist, 360-degree camera and parking sensors are all available -- for a price.
A punchier performer
The most noteworthy change to the Macan Turbo is the new 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6. The tail of the tape is impressive, with 434 horsepower representing an increase of 34 over the previous 3.6-liter engine. Peak torque comes in at 405 pound-feet and is available between 1,800 and 5,500 rpm. With the Sport Chrono pack that adds launch control, a Sport Plus mode and Sport Response button, the Macan Turbo can accelerate to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, making it 0.3 second quicker than before. Without the Sport Chrono upgrade, it does this same sprint in 4.3 seconds, which is still damn quick for a small SUV.
Drop the hammer in Sport Plus mode and or the push-to-pass Sport Response button, and the Macan rapidly runs to the speed limit and beyond, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission masterfully executing gear changes. But it doesn't feel quick. The thrust doesn't pin passengers into the seatbacks with authority and the soundtrack from the active exhaust doesn't sound nearly as menacing as it should for a gas-powered Porsche wearing a Turbo badge. Maybe there's just a little too much refinement taking away from the performance experience here?
Chassis tuning is certainly not a letdown. The smaller-diameter GT Sport steering wheel is great, and the action is direct and communicative. The optional adaptive air suspension keeps the body flat at turn-in and around corners on the wide Michelin Latitude Sport 3 tires. When pushed hard, the front end gives way to understeer, though Porsche does offer a torque-vectoring rear differential to help swing the back end around. Sadly, that's not installed on my test car, but it has more than enough cornering capabilities on tap without it, as well as muscular, but easy to modulate, brakes.
Flip the Turbo to the Normal mode and the suspension softens, the steering loosens and the drivetrain becomes less hyperactive for a comfy daily driver. Throttle response is muted ever so slightly for smooth launches, the suspension takes the edge off ruts and potholes and only gives way to a slight lean in turns, and steering is lighter off center for a downright pleasant ride. If you can resist the temptation of dipping deep into the throttle often, the EPA says the drivetrain will return an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
How I'd spec it
If I'm going to build a Macan Turbo, I'm getting all the go-faster components befitting the top model. The $1,390 air suspension, $1,500 torque-vectoring rear differential and $1,360 Sport Chrono Package are must-haves. To up the convenience and luxury, I'll check boxes for the $1,200 360-degree camera, $800 keyless entry, $530 heated seats, $330 GT Sport steering wheel, $690 wireless charging pad and a $700 sapphire blue metallic paint job. All in, my Macan wears a not-so-affordable $94,450 price tag, though that still undercuts the $96,850 test car pictured here.
King of the small performance SUVs
To put the 2020 Porsche Macan Turbo in your garage is going to cost you at least $83,600, not including $1,350 destination. That puts it in the same room as more powerful competition like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio , BMW X4 M and Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S Coupe. While the Porsche may not win the numbers game against that trio, it does trump the others with superior chassis tuning that delivers a more involving and buttoned-up driving experience. And that's something that can't be quantified on a spec sheet.