Porsche strengthens its Macan’s range with the addition of a ‘T’ grade which seeks to entice keener drivers. Could it be the real value pick in the Macan line-up?
A Porsche Macan T is, without question, one of the classier ways to transition to family SUV life. It’s a rung up from the entry-level Macan, proving you’re not here just for Porsche badge kudos. You demand something more. Something a dash sportier. Porschier.
Sure, there’s pricier Macan S and GTS grades with twin-turbo V6 goodness, but why bother for the extra expense? Not as if they’ll be doing track days… and you’ve probably got a 911 tucked away for that anyway.
The Macan T hits the cliched sweet spot for value and sensibleness. The ‘T’ bit is for Touring, which in Porsche speak means it’s not a pricey performance flagship, but has tuning tweaks and choice equipment to elevate you from the lowly entry-level.
Of course it still won’t win hearts of old-school Porsche aficionados. It is, after all, a four-cylinder SUV and not an air-cooled rear engine sportscar. Amusingly, Porsche stubbornly calls the Macan T a sportscar, and its first four-door to wear the fabled ‘T’ badge.
Those looking for a more traditional Porsche with the same ethos are offered the 911 T in Australia, while those overseas are sold the more affordable 718 Cayman T. Both in that alluring, if less practical, two-door body style.
Okay, Weissach. It’s not a sportscar. But it is a bloody good mid-size SUV. Not much in the circa $100k range can touch its ride and handling prowess, and the characterful four-cylinder’s quick enough for hot hatch-like acceleration.
The cabin blends style, tech and quality well – albeit with some stingy omissions – and one glimpse at that steering wheel badge reminds you’re in something special.
Despite this Macan generation about to become a ten-year-old, its looks hold up well. That’s helped by our test car’s flashy metallic Papaya paint ($1800 extra) over dark titanium 20-inch wheels, plus the T’s grey and black detailing and 15mm lower ride height.
A couple of facelifts have kept things fresh over the past decade, but there’ll be no more. An all-new Macan, due sometime this year, will be electric only.
In the Porsche showroom, the Macan is the cheapest choice by some margin – a Cayman’s entry price is $40,000 more. The budget Porsche SUV made up around half of all the brand’s sales here last year: we bought over five times as many Macans as we did 911s. Really.
The Macan’s success is due to keen pricing. It goes toe-to-toe with its German rivals and looks veritably bargainous beside stablemates at a Porsche showroom. For example, you must work hard to drive away a 911 for under $300k these days.
There are four Macans in the range, all being petrol all-wheel-drives. There’s no more diesel nor mad dog Turbo grades.
Entry level’s the simple Macan at $93,800, our T is $97,200 and the V6 S and GTS are $117,500 and $141,700 respectively. Some glaring spec omissions make it hard to not tick some pricey options, but even without, don’t expect to drive away a Macan T for much under $110,000.
Standard specification on the Macan T includes:
Macan T inclusions not found in the base Macan include the Sport Chrono Package and PASM, while the chassis, traction control and AWD system are all specifically tuned for the T – more on that in the Driving section.
No Android Auto is poor, while a head-up display, seat ventilation ($1710 option) and Traffic Jam Assist ($1330 option) should come standard at this price.
Options are many and none are cheap. Our test car had $25,000 of extras fitted.
You’ll pay an additional $1800 for metallic paint, or $4480 for a ‘special’ colour. Fair play to Porsche, there are 13 different colours to choose from.
Leather is standard, but ours boosted the moo with a $3280 leather package with contrasting stitching and seat belts in Papaya. For $6930 you get an Extended leather package, coating more of the cabin in cow.
Our panoramic roof ($3110), Sports exhaust ($3080), adaptive air suspension ($2790), 18-way electric seats ($2410), Bose audio ($2230), carbon interior package ($1600), lane keep assist ($1100), and Porsche logo door courtesy lights ($540) all added up.
You can get silly if you want. How about ‘personalised’ air vents with leather slats for $2900; leather grab handles for $1460 or for $700 get your key in your choice of colour with a leather pouch. Each to their own.
This depends on what Porsche means to you.
If performance, thrills and outright speed are non-negotiables you must look elsewhere. A good place to start is the Macan S. It’s $20,000 extra and brings the sublime, animal 2.9-litre V6 bi-turbo with 280kW and 520Nm, cracking 100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
But let’s remember how this midsize SUV will be used by the majority of people the majority of the time: cities, highways and mundane daily drives. Here the Macan T comes up trumps. It’s docile and efficient enough for everyday duties, but there’s guts and talent aplenty when you find the right bit of road for playtime.
Let’s start with the engine. Porsche has extracted decent figures from its turbocharged in-line four-cylinder – 195kW and 400Nm – and the 6.2-seconds to 100km/h capability ain’t half bad for an 1865kg jacked-up SUV.
Weight is key here. The four-pot is a significant 60kg lighter than the V6, so what it loses in outright shove, there’s agility, response and nimbleness gains thanks to less mass impacting on the front axle. Ergo, go hunt out some switchbacks.
It may be the same engine as in the base Macan, but Porsche has fettled the T’s traction control and active all-wheel-drive system, fitted stiffer anti-roll bars and Power Steering Plus for better steering feel, and lowered ride height 15mm.
In all my years testing, I can’t think of a better handling SUV that can still ride so comfortably in all scenarios. Body roll is superbly kept in check, corner turn-in is sharp and grip levels mighty.
The speed you can carry through turns is scary good, and there’s definite athletic prowess when quickly changing direction. You’d still rather a Boxster on your favourite backroad, but there’s ample agility in this Macan T, and the whole family gets to enjoy it too.
Okay, there’s no wow factor on the acceleration front when you squirt between corners. But when in the turns you can feel the rear-drive bias, there’s playfulness, and you remember balancing a car through a turn is more rewarding than head-pinning straight-line speed.
The Macan T’s Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and Sport Chrono are reason enough to upgrade from the base car. In softest setting the bump absorption is surprisingly adept – it’s still a stiff-ish SUV, but you only feel it on really rubbish roads.
On the highway it’s solid, quiet and all rather effortless – dodgy stalk for the cruise control excluded.
It needs to be in Sport or Sport Plus mode to really waken the PDK and up responsiveness. I’d also lobby for ticking the sports exhaust system box, despite its $3080 tag. You will need windows down to properly appreciate it though: it’s a car that sounds better to those outside than occupants cossetted inside.
Drive modes are selected through the tactile steering wheel dial, and the exhaust makes a racy enough note. In Sport Plus it crackles with rorty pops, and there’s a lush little blip on downshifts.
I found myself quickly flicking into Sport Plus for every roundabout to enjoy the soundtrack – it’s ideal being able to change drive modes without fussing through a screen.
Gears are held longer in the attacking modes, and as we’ve come to expect with Porsche’s PDK, its changes are lightning quick and effortlessly smooth. Even if the engine will be too underdone for some, don’t discount how damn enjoyable and rewarding the Macan T’s drive is in every condition.
Like an irresistible temptress, hop in this Macan T’s cabin and you’re convinced it must be yours. Porsche just does it all so well: easy style, comfort and smart functionality. There’s driver focus and sportiness, plus little heritage nods such as a central analogue tachometer with traditional Porsche fonts.
All Macans have well-bolstered and contoured chairs, but the optional adaptive sports seats in ours use padded ribs reminiscent of classic performance cars. You feel properly held in place, especially around your shoulders and the base of your back, blending comfort and sportiness so well.
Credit, too, for most touch points. Solid metal buttons adjust seats, and there’s a welcome tactile feel to steering wheel buttons, metal paddle shifters and drive mode rotary dial. It all just feels… right.
But it’s not perfect. The dash top is soft plastic but the door tops aren’t.
Thankfully it’s not cheap scratchy plastic, but it could be better, especially as our car has the optional leather package. Speaking of which, the likes of orange stitching and orange seatbelts – and the optional panoramic roof – add required colour and light to an otherwise very black cabin.
I’m also torn on Porsche’s giant touch pad centre console surrounding the gear shifter. It quickly gets coated in fingerprints, and I’m constantly worried about damaging it – dropping a metal drink bottle or even a heavy key on it probably won’t end well.
At least the touch buttons are responsive and well laid out, and climate temperature is still operated by a physical switch.
The large console makes storage tight, especially for big smartphones. These you must put under the centre armrest where the USB-C ports live – no wireless CarPlay remember, and no Android Auto at all. Door bin storage is good, and rubberised to mitigate rattles.
A 10.9-inch touchscreen is a high res treat and quick to respond, with the CarPlay screen stretching its length for easy functionality.
The driver display is a mix of analogue and digital. It’s not as flashy and high-tech as the growing trend for giant screens everywhere (see Porsche’s own Taycan), but there’s charm in its relative simplicity and easy navigation.
There’s ample room for front occupants, but back seat riders have it tougher. For starters the rear doors don’t open very wide. Fine for older kids, but if you’re plugging a child into a car seat – or lifting in and out a baby seat – it’s a confined affair.
Head and leg room for adults in the back is average rather than stretch-out vast, but at least the material quality and seat comfort extends back here. The boot’s a quite small 488L, with a space-saver spare hidden beneath.
As an aside, if you want to check where your money’s going, just lift the Macan T’s bonnet. It’s incredibly lightweight and feels superbly engineered. The perfectly-aligned clunk reminds of Porsche’s high standards.
There’s no ANCAP rating for the Macan. To its discredit, Porsche doesn’t supply vehicles for crash testing. However, when the Macan was new in 2014, it achieved a five star rating in Europe’s NCAP test.
Only recently has Porsche included adaptive cruise control with autonomous emergency braking as standard on the Macan: it was a $1620 option before. Even so, no rear cross traffic alert is a glaring omission.
Standard safety features:
Our test car had Lane Keeping Assist included for an extra $1100. With some of these systems being over-intrusive across many brands, and customers complaining, it’s fair Porsche gives buyers the option. The fact it’s a well calibrated, not overly nannying system makes it easier to recommend.
The surround view camera is a decent inclusion, but Porsche insists on distorting the picture edges, supposedly to improve the field of vision. In fact it makes the job harder: we prefer true pictures. I couldn’t get to grips with it after a week of testing.
There’s no capped price servicing, and each Porsche Centre dictates its own fees. But for reference, Porsche Centre Parramatta lists an oil maintenance service at $785 and inspection service at $1085.
Brake fluid every two years is another $260 a pop, plus you’ll need new spark plugs every 45,000km/ four years. It’s POA for that, and the required PDK fluid and filter after 60,000km/ four years.
Services are every 15,000km/annually, so don’t expect much change from $6000 to maintain your Macan T across five years. If it’s consolation, Porsche Centres are lovely showrooms to peruse if you wait around for the work to be done.
For a Porsche, the Macan T’s economy’s not terrible at 9.5L/100km, but it must drink pricier 98 octane. Our test returned 9.9L/100km overall, but an impressive 7.6L/100km on a lengthy highway stretch.
Just an extra $3400 over the base Macan makes the T a no brainer choice to anyone wanting more than just a Porsche badge.
The active suspension and more focused chassis tweaks give it more credibility to the keen driver, while sportier exterior and cabin touches, plus the lower stance, improves its aesthetics.
The four-cylinder engine, enjoyable as it is, still won’t deliver the performance and wow factor many Porsche enthusiasts demand. But leave them the V6 bi-turbo, save yourself $20k, and you still get the magnificence of how well these Macans ride and handle.
But, for me, having those extra dollars is key. The Macan T’s option list is lengthy, and I reckon you need some additions to spec the car so it feels as special as it should in this price playground.
Add additional leather, sports exhaust, sports seats and a decent colour and there’s another $10k on the bill – but the result is a very special family car indeed.
The second-generation midsize SUV arrives in Australia in a single variant more focused on catering to traditional Benz buyer tastes
Variant tested T
Key specs (as tested)
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