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Review of the 2016 Porsche Macan S: The Gold Standard

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On: Mon, May 9, 2016 at 8:55AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review of the 2016 Porsche Macan S:  The Gold Standard

If there wasn't already a copyright for the phrase "The Midas Touch" for an automotive repair shop we would be making a strong push to have Porsche adopt this byline as their official catchphrase. In case you don't actually know, ancient Greek stories tell the tale of King Midas, who was given the power of turning whatever he touched to pure gold. It seems that other than maybe Oprah, Porsche has been churning out winners hand over fist for the better part of the last half century. More specifically, in the last two decades, Porsche has taken a few real chances, and they have paid off in spades.

Way back in 1996, the Boxster first started Porsche's revival tour, and was incredibly well received, despite the outcries of 911 purists claiming the Boxster was a "poor man's Porsche". Those jabs eventually died out when it became clear the Boxster could coexist with the hardcore 911. Then Porsche got even crazier and decided to launch their first ever SUV called the Cayenne. This brought about mayhem amongst the Porsche faithful. They claimed Porsche execs were watering down and selling out their beloved performance brand. Sales quickly proved that there were a lot more people who wanted the luxury/performance SUV than not. Soon after the Cayenne, Porsche really stirred the pot with its Cayman in 2006, the first sports coupe made by the German manufacturer since the venerable 911 came onto the scene more than fifty years prior. But, again, the Cayman proved to be a resounding success. Most recently, Porsche has decided that if the Cayenne could be as successful as it has been, then why not try their hand at a smaller, less expensive SUV? Enter the Porsche Macan. Now, two years into its life cycle, and we have the 2016 Macan S and it looks to have all the makings of yet another Porsche golden success.

The Macan is essentially a reworked Audi Q5, so it starts life with good bones. Then Porsche designers went to town remodeling everything in their own sporty, functional fashion. The sleek exterior looks like hints at the idea that this isn't your father's Jeep Cherokee. The sport exhaust, big front air ducts, and huge calipers peeking out from behind 20-spoke rims all hint at the idea that this is a machine built for more than just bad weather. The huge front air ducts are for more than just an aggressive look, as they feed the turbocharged beast sitting just behind them. Specifically, an all-aluminum, direct-injected, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 serves up a lofty 340 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque (how mad were they that they couldn't coax one more pound-foot out of that motor to make it an even 340/340?). Backing up that serious motor is Porsche's 7-speed PDK automatic that is getting better with every iteration. That transmission sends power to all four wheels, and, thanks to Porsche Traction Management (PTM)—which uses an electronic and map-controlled multi-plate clutch to regulate force between the front and rear axle—automatic brake differential, and anti-slip regulation, as well as Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM)—which continuously adjusts damping force as needed—there is always an extra set of eyes (or sensors) on the ever-changing landscape of the road.

An optional air suspension gives you the choice of what ride height you want. Terrain Level raises the ground clearance and height by 40mm over Normal Level, while Low Level is 10mm lower than Normal to give the Macan better handling characteristics, and Loading Level, which lowers only the rear of the vehicle by 40mm to help load the Macan up through the back hatch. In addition to Terrain Level, the Macan S is actually set up to be a very capable on- and off-road vehicle. Push the OFF-ROAD button and Terrain Level is automatically set, as well as Porsche Stability Management and Porsche Torque Vectoring all configure themselves for off-road use. There is also a center console button that controls Porsche Hill Control, which allows you to set a speed on 2–19 mph that the Macan will hold itself at despite any changes in hill graduation. Think of it as scary-time cruise control.

Get yourself back onto the asphalt and you'll soon find out the Macan S flat-out hauls. Despite having to move 4,351 pounds, the spritely SUV gets going in a hurry. It runs from 0–60 mph in only 4.6 seconds, 0–100 in 12.4 seconds, through the quarter mile in 13.3 seconds @ 103 mph, on its way to a drag-limited top speed of 156 mph. Just to give some perspective, that 0–60 mph time matches that of the 2008 Carrera 4S. Not bad for a five-door, five-passenger off-roader. The Macan S does show a bit more of its hefty side when it comes to braking from 70–0 mph, which takes 186 feet, as well as when it tries its luck on the skidpad, posting a 0.82 g; both numbers are okay when compared to other SUVs, but we wouldn't want to compare those sets of numbers to any 911 models of this century. Fuel mileage is a very respectable 17/23 city/highway mpg, considering there are no fancy hybrid motors or lithium batteries in play here.

With a base price of $50,895 the 2016 Porsche Macan S beats the doors off of a base BMW X3 or X6, and while it loses some performance ground to an X6 M, the Macan S is some forty grand cheaper, so it's not really even in the same class. Stylistically, the sexy Porsche has looks that all but embarrass its BMW rivals. It seems that Porsche has once again struck gold by merely breathing its magic onto another unlikely SUV. The Macan S is nothing short of, well, the gold standard (yeah, we said it) of the small SUV market.

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