Driven: Porsche Macan S Diesel
Arguably the most enjoyable diesel-powered SUV we’ve ever driven
This, the S Diesel, isn’t the fastest, most powerful Porsche Macan there is. But it isn’t the slowest either. While there's an array of powertrain options globally, in India, Porsche sells only two. The more powerful option is the Macan Turbo with a 3.6-litre V6 biturbo petrol engine that belts out 394bhp and 550Nm of torque, which is good enough to take the Macan from a standstill to 100kph in a claimed 4.8 seconds. Of course, it’s a tad more expensive too, at roughly Rs 10 lakh over and above the cost of the car we have here – the Macan S Diesel.
Under its hood is a sweet 3.0-litre V6 diesel, which behaves just like a petrol engine. It's not very noisy, can build revs in a fashion that would put most petrol engines to shame, delivers oodles of power that are passed on to the wheels via a 7-speed PDK gearbox, and still return a real world 10.2kpl. That’s almost two more than the claimed figure for the Turbo. Making sense already?
Of course, there's a catch – the price. Porsche is retailing the car at a near-eight-digit ex-showroom price. It’s a bit ambitious, but not really rubbish. In Porsche’s defence, it has specced the car with a reasonable amount of hardware and software that you would have to otherwise choose from the options list to make this car magical – air suspension, PDK etc – which would have driven the price up any way. Hard to believe that the company's being upfront about it.
Traditionally, Porsche has always been an expensive brand. And the one feature that makes it stand out from the rest is its inherent fascination for physics-defying dynamics. Even when it comes to SUVs. Some variants of the Cayenne - like the GTS and the Turbo - can be fun to drive, but the Macan is mighty fun to drive even in this ‘humble’ S Diesel form. Of course, there's tech that blesses it with magic handling. The Macan has active four-wheel drive to make life easier in the rough, and grippier on smoother tarmac. Active air suspension can modulate the springs at all four corners at will, and at speeds that are humanly incomprehensible. Advanced torque vectoring can even control the amount of torque sent to each wheel, offering new levels of grip around high-speed corners. The steering weighs up nicely as speed builds up, and helps build confidence. All this, coupled with instantaneous power delivery, just makes the Macan a superbly fun vehicle to drive. The only thing that reminds you that you are in a SUV is the slightly higher seat position.
Of course, the dashboard is typically Porsche – angled towards the driver with lots of dials and buttons. Although our test car was reasonably-specced, there were still a lot of dummy buttons pointing towards further endless optional features. Fit-and-finish is impeccable, although some switches appear flimsy for a ₹1 crore vehicle. Seats are plush, and there is just enough space to make you feel cosy and comfortable. If you expect lots of legroom from your SUV, look elsewhere. Otherwise, inside the Macan is a good place to be. Just to give you a sense of airiness, it comes with a panoramic sunroof that stretches all the way back to the rear seats. Good thing is that the boot is big enough to carry luggage for four, but then, that's something you would expect from an SUV any way.
And this is the beauty of the Macan. It has everything that you would expect from a proper SUV, including utility and off-road ability, as well as some serious performance and segment-defying dynamics. The luxury quotient is omnipresent, with quality fit and finish and a badge that reeks of exclusivity. Not surprisingly, it is expensive to own, which seems to be the only hitch. Yes, you can't have it without the extra equipment, but those gimmicks are the whole point of owning a Macan. Without them, you may as well choose from a range of other luxury SUVs. And with the complete package, there is practically nothing to dislike about the Macan S Diesel. Including the price.
2,967cc, V6, diesel, Active 4WD, 241bhp, 580Nm, 7A, 0-100kph: 6.41s, 30-50kph: 1.28s, 50-70kph: 1.75s, 80kph-0: 24.46m/2.66s (all performance figures in wet conditions), Fuel efficiency: 9.3kpl (city)/ 11.1kpl (highway), ₹1.3 crore (on-road, approximately)
Without a doubt, one of the best-handling SUVs ever built. Lots of creature comforts and technical gimmickry, but everything comes at a price. An obscene one at that, but it's a special car, all said and done