There are two ways of approaching the idea of a compact sports SUV – you can choose to let the puritanical part of your brain wrestle with this contradictory concept until you move on to the nearest coupé, shaking your head in self-admonishment. Or, you can admit that plurality of purpose is often an admirable trait in a car, as long as it’s accompanied by fistsful of fun.
The Porsche Macan Turbo is the most powerful compact sports SUV, and sitting above the slightly “less” powerful Macan S, it is the most powerful Macan there is. Unlike the significantly cheaper (and less powerful) Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG, it doesn’t come with a lot of visual drama – no spoiler wing, no contrasting skirts and no protruding splitter; it’s very grown up and very composed. The only visual distinction over the Macan S comes with the 19-inch alloy wheels that it sports. Things continue to be very Porsche inside – it’s a properly sporty cabin, bathed in alcantara and leather. Porsche even went through the trouble of nicking a 918 steering and placing it in here, so any Porsche enthusiast will find themselves in a very familiar space.
More sports car or SUV?
It’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? The Macan Turbo’s architecture certainly points to the former – a 3.6-litre, twin-turbo V6 petrol with 400 bhp of power and a whopping 55 kgm of torque, unibody construction and wide section tyres. Thanks to Porsche’s divine 7-speed, dual-clutch, PDK gearbox, power delivery is as smooth and seamless as the vehicle’s AWD-aided traction.
There’s a crisp, sonorous sound emanating from it as you mash the throttle in the footwell. It’s so smooth, in fact, that it occasionally takes a second glance at the speedo to acknowledge the speeds you’re doing. It just goes about it in a rather nonchalant way – there’s not much hissing, or gurgling or growling; it’s quite sublime in the way it dispenses pure velocity. You’re constantly struck by the composure of this car – it’s instantaneously quick in a very sports car-like manner, but it feels so comfortable and easy to drive. If there’s a particular quality that makes a strong argument in favour of the Macan Turbo, it’s the ease with which it alternates between its identities.
Porsche’s cars have pretty much been the gold-standard of engineering finesse, and this reflects in the car’s adhesive roadholding ability. Wide, curving highways don’t require you to lift off, while narrow, country switchbacks have Porsche’s AWD and traction control system working busily to allow better speeds. Everything about the Macan Turbo feels so well-calibrated and precise, it’s almost symphonic – right down to the heft of the steering wheel and the tactile paddle-shifters.
Yes, the ride height immediately detaches it from a proper sports car experience, but that self-levelling rear suspension unit keeps the car flat, giving it car-like dynamics. And it does so while remaining quite supple, even in ‘Sport’ mode. On moderately bumpy roads, you don’t quite sit up and take notice of a harsh ride quality.
Does it like to go off-road?
No more than your average soft-roader. The Macan’s air suspension allows for a reasonable bit of lift when you press the ‘off-road’ button, but you’d be silly to expect it to bounce off boulders. That said, it’s a damned sight more practical than your average sports coupe. With a well articulated weave, the Macan Turbo can be taken through some rough patches, but it’s not particularly comfortable doing so, so you wouldn’t be either.
Should you buy one?
Internationally, the range-topping Macan appears to be flying off the shelves, but its Rs 1.08 crore price tag might deter a few people in this country. It’s hard to find an SUV that matches its power levels and proportions – suffice it to say that this is easily a benchmark in how performance SUVs should handle and perform. An SUV that does 0-100 kph in under 5 seconds? Now that’s hard to find.