What is it?
This is the diesel version of the excellent new Porsche Macan SUV that we drove in Turbo guise earlier this week. It costs £43,300, produces 255bhp – alongside a whopping 427lb ft of torque from just 1750rpm – and can hit 62mph in just 6.3sec as a result.
This makes the Macan S Diesel by far the most sporting of the various diesel-engined compact SUVs on sale at the moment, but it also gives Porsche’s new junior Cayenne range genuine depth.
At the top of the tree sits the 400bhp, 165mph Turbo; in the middle sits a less powerful petrol V6, also turbocharged somewhat confusingly but known simply as the Macan S; and alongside that car sits this one, the 143mph S Diesel that also happens to be capable of 45mpg on the combined cycle with emissions of just 159g/km.
Although all three Macans are based unashamedly on Audi’s Q5 platform, Porsche insists that less than a third of the moving parts and almost none of the dynamic qualities are shared between the two cars. So while the basic architecture of Q5 and Macan is similar, the way they look and drive is entirely different, says Porsche.
The suspension, for instance, is steel as standard (optional air suspension is available on all three versions) and features struts at the front with a multi-link arrangement at the rear, much like that of the Q5. But in its detail and tuning the Macan’s suspension and chassis (and its steering, brakes and gearbox) are all bespoke.
The gearbox is a seven-speed PDK while the brakes and dampers have both been tuned to provide the S Diesel Macan with far sharper responses than a Q5. The driving position is also much lower than in the Q5 while the cabin itself bears little or no resemblance to what you’ll find in the equivalent Audi.
The emphasis with the Macan, inside as well as out, is all about delivering as sporting a driving experience as possible, even when there’s a cast-iron common-rail turbodiesel engine pumping away beneath its new bonnet.
What’s it like?
In one word refined. In two words, supremely refined. And in four words supremely refined and quick.
There are all sorts of things about the Macan S Diesel that will impress you in the first few miles of your first journey in it – the precision and accuracy of its steering, the effortless power of its brakes, the apparent high quality of its ride and the feeling of sitting inside a compact but expensive automobile being just four such examples.
But it’s the smoothness and potency of the power delivery that will most likely leave the biggest impression, long after you’ve climbed out and walked way. That and the creamy interaction with the engine of the quite brilliant PDK gearbox. Combined, these attributes elevate the S Diesel Macan to a completely different level dynamically compared with any car in this class.
Admittedly I only drove it on mostly smooth German roads, and around Porsche’s test track at Leipzig where the car is built, but the overwhelming impression I came away with was that of a supremely well-resolved car. Not perhaps the full blown “sports car” that Porsche would have you believe, but something pretty close all the same. Call it the world’s most practical four-wheel-drive fast hatchback and you wouldn’t be all that far away.
It feels in a different league from the Q5s and BMW X3s of this world when it comes to pure driver appeal, yet the compromise it demands in refinement and comfort don’t really seem to exist.
The Macan is as fast as it is refined, as roomy as it is agile, and as sporting as it is comfortable. Which gives it a unique breadth of appeal.
Should I buy one?
If you want the best sporting compact SUV that’s currently made on your driveway, one that boasts a suitably exclusive badge to match, then yes, you should buy a Macan.
And in the case of the S Diesel version, even the price wouldn’t seem overly out of reach given how well-equipped the car comes as standard.
But unfortunately (for the buyer but not, of course, for the seller) the waiting list for the Macan is already one year long and growing. Yup, all 50,000 of this year’s global allocation of cars has gone.
So if you want a new Porsche Macan on your drive any time soon, better get your order in fast.
Porsche Macan S Diesel
Price £43,300; 0-62mph 6.3sec; Top speed 142mph; Economy 45.0mpg (combined); CO2 159g/km; Kerb weight 1925kg; Engine 3.0-litre, V6, diesel, turbocharged ; Installation Front, longitudinal, 4WD; Power 255bhp at 4000-4250rpm; Torque 427lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual clutch automatic
What is it?