Reviewing the new Porsche Macan Under A Blood Red Sky
Hands on with the 2020 Porsche Macan during the California wildfire season
In addition to being a big fan of European sports cars, I am also a fan of classic rock - so much so that my Dad calls me an "old soul." While my tastes tend to run towards The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, my Dad has also been encouraging me to check out one of his favorites: U2. As I wrote this article with the sun beginning to set on the Pacific Ocean, our air quality was once again so bad that I should be listening to one of U2's best albums - "Under A Blood Red Sky." That is what our sunset looks like today due to ongoing wildfires in California.
And, the sky was even worse a few weeks ago when I had the opportunity to do a behind-the-wheel review of the 2020 Porsche Macan. On that day, the SCU Lightning Complex Fire was raging just a few miles from our home which sits directly above Seacliff Beach. That raging wildfire burned thousands of acres, worsened the air quality and darkened the skies making it look like I'm in Tatooine from Star Wars. In fact, when I took the wheel of the Macan around 3:00 p.m., the streetlights had automatically turned on and the sky looked like a combination of the planet Mars and the"blood red" U2 album cover. You will see this in my photos.
With the schools closed here in Santa Cruz County (along with most of the schools in California) due to COVID-19 and compounded by the wildfires, the short schedule of virtual learning allowed me to review the new Porsche Macan. My Dad's 911 Carrera S was at the dealer for a scheduled service so our local Porsche dealer kindly gave us a "Porsche Mobility Assistance Vehicle", or loaner car, which turned out to be the 2020 Macan base model. I have experienced the Porsche Macan once before, but did not review it, something I regret, and I wasn't about to miss out on the opportunity again.
For decades, Porsche has made some of the best sports cars the world has seen. In more recent years, Porsche has drifted away from making purely sports cars and supercars, and has made some family-friendly vehicles. The Porsche Macan is a great example of Porsche's expanding lineup in that area. In 2013, a few years after releasing the larger Cayenne SUV, Porsche unveiled the Macan. The Porsche Macan is a compact SUV meant to attract buyers who want a Porsche, but also a more practical car. Production started in 2014, and Porsche has been selling them well ever since. With a base price tag of just over $52,000, the Porsche Macan is currently Porsche's least expensive car. But, that isn't to say it's not good, because I had a blast with it. Let me explain why.
With the arrival of the Macan 2020 model year, the design team at Porsche was conservative with its overall design, not changing much since 2019, or even 2013 at it's release. However, that isn't a bad thing, because the Macan is a beautiful SUV. The Macan's general 'coupé' design remains, but unlike other coupé CUVs, this one actually looks good. Its rims are the perfect size, with my review model riding on the 20-inch "RS Spyder" rims, making the car look less obnoxious than it's competitors like the Audi RSQ8 which feature rims as big as 23". Also unlike it's competitors, the Porsche Macan has no fake vents, which caught me by surprise. However, there are two thing's I'd change about the cars exterior. First, I would would like a better-functioning rear diffuser and, second, I would eliminate the fake exhaust tips. The rear diffuser looked too showy, which I despise. The fake exhaust tip, in my opinion, is just lame. The actual exhaust pipe only went to the start of the two inch deep tips and I just don't understand the need for that.
Not a fan of the rear diffuser and don't get me started on the fake exhaust tips
Inside the cabin
Porsche makes some of the best interiors, and for the most part they didn't cheap out with the Macan. The leather both on the seats and steering wheel was far beyond what you'd expect in a $52,000 base model Porsche. The stitching was precise and clean throughout the car. The center console featured aluminum trim - not plastic - which I liked a lot. Unfortunately, rather than consistently using aluminum trim throughout the interior, there were big, annoying plastic trim pieces on the doors and above glove compartment. Even though that plastic was smooth and high gloss, I found it to be very ugly. This is the second time I have been in a Macan with this horrid plastic trim. Overall, though, the feel of the interior was superb, and the overall quality was high. The Bose sound system was notably better than what I expected, with clear audio quality and heavy bass which pleased my older brother when we were listening to his chosen rap music on the way home.
The infotainment was thankfully better than having to look at the plastic trim. It was easy to use, touch responsive, and was very modern. Compared to the infotainment (if you can even call it infotainment) in our 991.1, it was beyond futuristic. I actually have no complaints for the technology in this car!
With a Porsche, the word "practical" means different things to different people! The Macan is way more practical than our 911 but I wouldn't call it the most practical car in the world. A Honda Odyssey it is not! The rear seats are great for two, despite having a middle seat in the second row. The middle seat is slim and has a massive hump where your legs would usually be. Unless you're incredibly small, or are a child, you shouldn't be able to fit in the middle seat. There is enough headroom for anyone shorter than 6' 3", but less leg room than I was hoping for. I'm almost 5' 9" and I did feel a little bit closer to the driver than I would've liked. If I had leaned forward just a smidge I'd practically be breathing down the driver's neck. The comfort outside of that issue was spot on.
The trunk space was actually not shabby at all. However, by making the trunk larger there were some sacrifices made. The backseat leg room was minimized to make room for the trunk without elongating the car. The end result of that was a trunk large enough to fit two adult-sized golf bags with a little bit of room left over. Unfortunately if you have multiple kids and need to take them to sports practice, fitting all of their gear may be a challenge. More than three or four basketball bags, basketballs, and shoes will mostly fill up the trunk, resulting some of their gear may having to go into the second row. That said, the trunk room is comparable to larger two row SUVs like the BMW X5. Overall, the practicality is what you'd expect in a car like this.
Engine and acceleration
With this Macan, we were provided with a measly 2.0L four cylinder with only 248 horsepower and 273 lbs/ft of torque. On paper, it sounds underpowered, and that's because it is. When accelerating, the Macan did not kick down as quickly as I would've hoped when I put my foot down on the throttle. And my Dad wasn't at all impressed when he was getting on the freeway. At least the PDK transmission (Porsche Doppel Kupplungsgetriebe if you were wondering) had smooth and quick shifts when accelerating and decelerating. When speeding up to get on a main road, or just to make a quick turn, the Macan at least kept it's stance reasonably well. It's adequate for an CUV of this size but honestly didn't feel very Porsche-like.
The driving experience
I thought the Macan felt sluggish and heavy, which is not what I want in a Porsche. The ride quality wasn't bad though. The suspension was a bit soft for my taste (Dad thought it was "awful"), but for how low I sat in the Macan it was passable. There isn't much to say here because everything about driving it and riding in it was very "ok".
All in all the Macan is not a terrible car, but not my go-to compact SUV. If I were to get a Macan it would be an S or GTS model because those fill in the gaps of things I didn't like. The key points of improvement would have to be the throttle response, tighter suspension, more leg room, ridding it of the plastic trim ASAP, and giving the base Macan more power. The Macan S gets two more cylinders and around 100 more horsepower, according to a Porsche dealership website. Other than those, the Macan is a great car for those who have a smaller budget and want to experience Porsche ownership.
2020 Porsche Macan
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