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FIRST DRIVE: 2019 Porsche Macan still excellent

For 2019, only Macan, Macan S are refreshed; others to follow soon

Published: December 11, 2018, 2:30 AM
Updated: January 12, 2019, 2:38 PM

2019 Porsche Macan

MALLORCA, Spain—There’s not a lot that’s new for the 2019 Porsche Macan, but then, there wasn’t much wrong with the previous version. Porsche tweaked the lights, tweaked the 4-cylinder engine and replaced the 6-cylinder with the engine under the hoods of the Panamera and Cayenne. It’s updated the software, added some new driver-assistance features and Hey Presto! – the refreshed Macan, which starts at $55,500. That’s a $1,400 bump from the 2018.

2019 Porsche Macan

To be fair, Porsche doesn’t want or need to make big changes to its compact SUV. Since it was introduced four years ago, more than 350,000 Macans have been sold around the world, and the number will only grow. Owners trading in their old SUVs don’t want to buy the exact same model, though Porsche hopes they’ll move up to a more powerful version, so it’s essential for the Macan to offer something new.

There are four different Macans available, from the basic Macan and Macan S to the Macan GTS and Macan Turbo (though all Macans are turbocharged), as well as several variations on those editions. For 2019, only the Macan and Macan S are refreshed, though the others will follow soon.

2019 Porsche Macan S V-6

The main change is the new 6-cylinder engine in the Macan S, which is tuned for 348 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. This means it has 14 hp more than last year, and can rip from zero-to-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds, which is 0.1 seconds quicker than before. (That’s the blink of an eye, if you’re keeping score.) Maximum torque kicks in at 1,360 rpm, which means there’s plenty of acceleration at low speed for pulling out of corners and overtaking.

This year, there’s a new optional steering wheel similar to the wheel in the 911. It includes the Drive Mode toggle that you can turn with your right thumb to select Regular, Sport or Sport Plus, but it also includes the centre button that immediately changes all the parameters to Maximum Everything. This is the button you want to push when it’s time to overtake. On the twisting roads of this Spanish island, I never tired of it.

2019 Porsche Macan 4-cylinder engine

The 4-cylinder engine has a redesigned cylinder head that now positions the fuel injectors directly in the top centre, for cleaner combustion that’s needed to satisfy future legislation. Before, the injectors were off to the side, and this created a sootier exhaust. There’s no increase in power – Porsche says the 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque is the most that can be extracted from the engine before sacrificing reliability.

The new Macan is most easily identified by its light-strip that runs the width of the back liftgate, merging with the (now LED) taillights. At the front, the headlights are also LED, with four small daytime running lights positioned around each main bulb. There are four new paint colours and – try to hold back your excitement – five new colours for the side flashing beneath the doors.

2019 Porsche Macan

Underneath the Macan, the suspension is apparently improved with retuned anti-roll bars and aluminum spring forks on the front axle. I say “apparently” because the SUV handled impeccably on these Spanish roads, befitting a Porsche, but so did the previous generation. You might notice the difference on a racetrack, but I doubt it. You will notice that the wheels are redesigned and are now available in sizes up to 21 inches.

Inside, technology is updated and improved for better connectivity and assistance. The central touch-control screen is expanded to 10.9 inches from the previous 7.2, though there’s still a plethora of buttons and switches on the centre console. Porsche believes strongly in the tactile appeal of driving, and the physical adjustment of controls.

2019 Porsche Macan

There’s Apple CarPlay, but there’s still no Android Auto and no plans to install it – android users are out of luck for mirroring their phones. The updated Porsche Connect system will work with all phones, though, to not only inform you of the status of your Macan (where it’s parked, how much fuel is in it, etc.) but also to operate various online music services that you might subscribe to.

New for this year, Traffic Jam Assist helps the Macan follow the vehicle in front at speeds up to 65 km/h and will slow it if necessary, all the way down to a complete stop. This doesn’t let the driver stop driving, but does remove some of the grunt work from the daily commute. It sounds impressive, and was introduced just a few years ago on some very expensive vehicles, but it’s now available as a standard feature on even the most basic Toyota Corolla.

2019 Porsche Macan

While sitting in traffic, a new (optional) ioniser helps clean the air in the cabin. A heated front windshield is also now offered, which should appeal to Canadian drivers who don’t like scraping away at their car’s glass – which is everyone.

All these little things add up to an overall improvement in an already exceptional vehicle. There’s no reason for Porsche to make big changes to the Macan, but there’s every reason for making sure it stays ahead of the curve. The luxury compact SUV category is the fastest growing market segment in North America, and if a vehicle slips for any reason, there are plenty of other contenders to take its place. Clearly, the refreshed Macan shows no sign of slipping in its appeal.

2019 Porsche Macan

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2019 Porsche Macan and Macan S

Price: $55,500 (Macan); $62,900 est. (Macan S)

Engine: Turbocharged 1,984 cc inline-4 (Macan), Turbocharged 2,995 cc V-6 (Macan S)

Horsepower: 248 hp (Macan), 348 hp (Macan S)

Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,500 rpm (Macan), 354 lb-ft @ 1,360-4,800 rpm (Macan S)

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (PDK)

Drivetrain: AWD

Suspension front: Independent, with 5-link aluminum front axle and separated wishbones

Suspension rear: Independent, with aluminum trapezoidal link at bottom, aluminum link at top and tie rod

Length: 4,696 mm

Width: 1,923 mm (excluding mirrors) 2,098 mm (with mirrors)

Height: 1,624 mm

Wheelbase: 2,807 mm

Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.1 seconds (Macan S with Sport Chrono, claimed), 6.5 seconds (Macan with Sport Chrono, claimed)

Top speed: 225 km/h (Macan); 254 km/h (Macan S)