2023 Porsche Macan T review: Sporty doesn’t always mean fastest

2023 Porsche Macan T review: Sporty doesn’t always mean fastest

Porsche Macan T 2023 | Cars.com photo by Aaron Bragman

Written by Aaron Bragman

December 4, 2023

Verdict: The Macan, Porsche’s best-selling vehicle, gets a new Model T that brings tighter handling to the sportiest compact crossover on the market.

vs competition: You’ll pay for better handling and some exclusive trim, but the extra speed isn’t part of the deal; The Macan T is no slouch, but competitors may be a little faster for this type of currency.

All Porsches are, to some degree, sports cars – it’s the nature of the brand, and enthusiast-oriented design is built into all of its offerings, from the largest Cayenne SUV to the cheapest, no-options 718 Cayman coupe. Porsche’s “T” moniker was previously exclusive to the brand’s 718 and 911 Coupe models, denoting a trim that provided extra handling prowess for the model without adding any extra power. You get some suspension tuning, unique styling changes and exclusive upholstery inside, but the engine remains unchanged. The T models are meant to combine efficiency with the handling of a sports car, but Porsche’s SUVs haven’t had anything like that yet. The first-ever Macan T is the latest sports car from Porsche’s best-selling car, and we spent a week with one to find out whether enhancing the Macan’s handling prowess (but not its base engine) resulted in a car worth the extra money you paid. I will pay for it.

Related: 2024 Porsche Panamera: 4 things we’re excited about

It looks a little different – ​​but only a little

Porsche likes to give customers subtle styling tweaks between trim levels, which is appreciated but can be difficult to follow unless you’re a true Porsche fan who makes a point of memorizing the shape of each trim. The Macan T comes with an exclusive metallic gray painted front fascia, side mirrors, side blade elements, roof spoiler and rear emblems. The exhaust pipes and side window trims are in gloss black, and there is a black “Macan T” logo on the gray side blades. The standard wheels are 20-inch Macan S wheels, but they are painted exclusively in dark titanium.

The look is subtle, and unless you’re a hardcore Porsche fan, you’re unlikely to spot anything special about this version of the Macan. It’s every bit as sporty and aggressive as the rest of the range, and its 20-inch wheels fill the wheel wells better than the 19-inch wheels on lesser Macan models. Of its rivals, perhaps only the Maserati Grecale or Range Rover Velar can rival the Macan T in terms of style. The Lexus NX is weird, the BMW X3 is derivative, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5 are both rather boring. But this Porsche has clear, direct design proportions that link it to the rest of the Porsche lineup, and that’s a good thing.

Related video:

narrow vs. comfortable

Slide into the driver’s seat of the Macan and you’ll feel more like you’re sitting in a tall hatchback than in a true SUV. It’s not a high vehicle, and maintains a slightly lowered design in order to have a proper center of gravity (the lower the better in a performance vehicle). As a result, the Macan doesn’t have the seating position that other SUVs are known for. It makes you feel better about it being a Porsche-branded SUV; Many fundamentalists remain angry at the idea any Porsche even has four doors, let alone made by Porsche SUVs. The cabin contains many design cues from the rest of Porsche’s lineup. It’s very similar to the Panamera, with a wide center console, flat dashboard and traditional round gauges (even if there are only three, two of which are digital).

Some might describe the cabin as comfortable, but others will describe it as cramped, likely depending on how much you want your Porsche SUV to feel like a Porsche sports car. It’s a good reminder that this is a pretty big deal Built-in A crossover, it’s not even on the larger side of that category. The front seats are small, firm and more supportive than you’ll find in most small-brand luxury SUVs this side of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. The back seat doesn’t have a lot of legroom either; It can be challenging for a young family. However, for young couples without children or style-conscious single buyers, it should be very convenient. Cargo room is decent for the class, but again, this is a compact crossover—don’t expect to go on cross-country road trips with luggage for a family of four. For one or two people, though, it’s adequate.

Perhaps most importantly, the Macan is well made. Material quality is excellent, and the unique upholstery exclusive to the T model is a stylish and sophisticated mix of fabric and leather. The dashboard is stitched, as are the door trims and seats, and they all look racy and upscale in a way befitting the price of the Macan T. Where the cabin rests is in the controls, which are almost entirely touch-sensitive panels on the dash and center console. Not only is it difficult to pinpoint what you mean on both the center console (due to its flat angle and reflective nature) and the touchscreen, but the touchscreen itself gets a bit confusing. Both interfaces require more attention than you should while driving the car, and accumulate a lot of fingerprints in the process.

However, the reconfigurable gauges are fun, allowing you to choose from a variety of displays in the same gauge cluster. There are only three round display areas instead of the five seen in Porsche’s coupes and sedans, and the only area on the far right is digital. The left physical gauge is the speedometer and the center gauge is the tachometer – quite appropriate for a sports car brand. Even with only three gauges, you won’t complain about the lack of information; The reconfigurable digital gauge provides any information you might need about the vehicle.

Of particular note is the steering wheel itself: it’s on the small side, and the rim is thinner than you’ll find on many vehicles these days, but it’s a winning combination for a sport-oriented car. Unlike some automakers who cared little about chunky steering wheels (looking at you, Dodge), this compact, easy-to-use, comfortable tiller was perfect for the sporty nature of the Macan T. It fit easily in my hand, and that went a long way toward conveying that this wasn’t a pushcar. Typical quadrant.

Too much Zoot, not too much Scoot

On the road, it becomes clear that the Macan T isn’t just about sporty looks; It has the goods to provide a legitimately entertaining driving experience. This isn’t something most compact crossovers can do; Most are just commuter machines unfit for exotic sports. But the Macan T’s long hatchback nature shines through dynamically: it feels low, planted and very eager to change directions. This becomes evident within the first few hundred yards of taking off from a parking spot, thanks to outstanding steering feel and feedback, a solid and consistent brake feel, and a ride quality that speaks to Porsche magic. Porsche Active Suspension Management is standard on the Macan T, and optional equipment includes adaptive air suspension (which provides stiffer anti-roll bars) and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus traction management system. All of this has been designed to improve the agility and responsiveness of the Macan’s handling characteristics. Somehow, the company always manages to make something that is an amazing combination of both beautifully damped and good response and control. The Porsche’s suspension feels like it’s working, but you’re not uncomfortable with it.

The one area that didn’t attract attention when converting the base Macan into a Macan T was the engine. It’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 261 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that directs that power to all four wheels. The Macan T also includes the Sport Chrono package, which adds a chronometer above the dash and some extra goodies for tuning. That’s all good for a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds, according to Porsche – not what most people would call quick. By contrast, step up to the Macan S and its twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6, and you’ll get 375 horsepower and more than a second’s 0-to-60 time. The Macan T’s smaller, lighter engine is said to lighten the load on the front axle by a significant 129 pounds, which helps with handling, balance, shifting and overall agility.

In terms of performance, the four-cylinder Macan T is… adequate. It won’t set the world on fire — it’s actually less powerful than the base Dodge Hornet GT it costs half As much as. Acceleration is reasonably quick, and the seven-speed transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. It’s also a little more responsive when Sport mode is activated, or when you press a special button on the steering wheel that switches everything to maximum sportiness for 30 seconds – a useful feature for making downhill highway driving more fun. But the goal of the Macan T isn’t pure speed; It’s all about lightness and value, and combined with suspension improvements and a lighter front end than the faster (but heavier and more expensive) higher trim levels, the Macan T clearly hits the mark. This thing is aimed at drivers who want an enthusiast car that gets good fuel economy and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, but can still provide more smiles per mile than something more mundane. It’s sharper than its BMW and Lexus rivals, more stylistically expressive than its Audi cousin, and has the sporting chops to compete with something like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, which also outperforms most rivals but doesn’t quite have the level of interior quality that Porsche offers.

More from Cars.com:

Options get expensive, but so is Porsche

Just like all Porsches, you’ll pay for extras in the Macan T. This car starts at $68,150 (including destination), but even at that price, the standard Macan T doesn’t have power seats and keyless entry (you must use a fob). , a panoramic roof, lane departure assist or a premium audio system. Naturally, all of these features are available in different packages or as standalone options, along with a myriad of colors and add-ons that can quickly raise the price. But if you move your fingers away everyone With the different options, you can end up with my test car: a base version with the addition of air suspension, torque vectoring, a Bose sound system and a 360-degree camera system for just over $70,000. That’s a lot of money for a compact crossover, but not for a luxury brand car even though it’s priced $10,000 to $20,000 more than similarly equipped and capable competitors. This is Porsche’s premium, and people seem quite comfortable paying it. Really enjoy the list of options, and you’ll see how quickly that premium can add up.

For the price of a Macan TI, this car offers a fun driving experience you won’t find in most other crossovers, plus excellent styling, a top-notch interior, and reasonable comfort — not to mention the prestige that comes with the brand name.

The Cars.com Editorial Department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In keeping with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers do not accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The editorial department is independent of the advertising, sales and sponsored content departments of Cars.com.

Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has more than 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone by the time he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiley faces. Today he is a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/rude. Email Aaron Bragman

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *