We drove a $96,000 Porsche Macan Turbo and now understand why it's the best-selling Porsche in the world

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderThe Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package.
  • The Porsche Macan compact crossover SUV is the brand’s hottest-selling model.
  • Last year, it accounted for 39% of Porsche’s US sales.
  • The Turbo with Performance Package is the most expensive version of the Macan on sale.
  • Our test car started at $US86,445 but cost $US96,295 with options.
  • The Macan is the best-driving crossover SUV we’ve ever tested.

Porsche. There is no substitute. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Tom Cruise’s driving in the movie “Risky Business,” you’ve probably heard this tagline.

Fortunately for Porsche, it has the cars to back it up. After all, the iconic Porsche 911 and its two dozen variants remain the gold standard to which all sports cars are measured.

But what if you need room for five passengers, some extra space for cargo, and additional ground clearance for those snowy days? What if you need the Porsche flavour with a bit of extra practicality?

That’s where vehicles like the Macan crossover SUV and its big brother, the Cayenne, step into the picture. Together, the dynamic duo accounted for nearly two-thirds of all Porsches sold in the US last year. Even more incredible is the fact that these sales figures were limited only by the pace of Porsche’s production and not by consumer demand.

Sadly, the all-new second-generation Cayenne won’t be around until later this year. But Porsche was able to deliver this stunning sapphire blue metallic Macan Turbo with Performance Package test car for Business Insider to check out.

While the 911 may be Porsche’s soul, it can be argued that no other car is as important to the company’s financial survival right now as the Macan. Last year, the Macan accounted for a whopping 39% of Porsche’s sales in the US.

To say the compact crossover has been wildly successful would be an understatement.

The base Macan starts at $US47,800 in the US, while our Macan Turbo with Performance Package started at $US86,445.

With additional options, it left the showroom at $US96,295.

Here’s a closer look at the Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package:

The Macan, which derives its name from the Indonesian word for tiger, debuted in the US for the 2015 model year.

Source: Porsche.

Aesthetically, the Macan is undeniably a Porsche.

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And that’s both a blessing and a curse.

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There are few brands in the automotive universe more recognisable than Porsche. Much of that centres on the need for every model in the lineup to look sort of like a 911.

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Sadly, it hasn’t always worked out well for Porsche. Just look up “first-generation Porsche Cayenne” or “first-generation Porsche Panamera” if you want to see firsthand what I’m talking about.

Fortunately, the Porsche design DNA shows well on the Macan. The compact crossover SUV looks stylish and athletic. Its low-slung, aggressive stance screams dynamic driving machine much more so than a high-priced luxury SUV.

The Macan’s dynamic design theme continues into the black leather and Alcantara- lined cabin.

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The Macan’s instrument cluster is an amalgam of digital and analogue. As in all Porsches, the tachometer sits front and center. It’s flanked by a 4.8-inch TFT display.

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The Macan is equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen running the brand’s PCM infotainment system. Unfortunately, it’s not the widescreen affair found in the second-generation Panamera sedan.

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For the most part, PCM, or Porsche Communication Management, is a solid infotainment system. Its overall layout, although a bit dull in design, is logically organised and easy to learn. The touchscreen is responsive, while the navigation system is fairly intuitive. PCM is also available with Apple CarPlay integration if you prefer to go that route.

PCM is also tasked with controlling the Macan’s 14-speaker, 665-watt Bose Surround Sound system. To be honest, I didn’t use the sound system all that much. Instead, I spent most of my time in the car enjoying the beautiful sounds emanating from the Macan’s quad exhaust.

Much like Porsche’s two-door sports cars, the center console is button-heavy so all of its features are easily accessible and within arm’s reach. That’s important for when the driver is tackling a challenging strip of asphalt.

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The Macan’s second row has ample room for two passengers. Add a third, though, and things get cramped. There’s plenty of headroom even with the raked rear roofline. Unfortunately, rearward visibility is pretty poor.

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One complaint I do have is the lack of storage. It may seem trivial, but the dearth of places to keep things such as your phone and wallet reflects poorly on the Macan’s everyday utility. Especially when compared with its corporate cousin, the Audi SQ5.

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Open up the rear hatch …

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… and you’ll find 17.7 cubic feet of cargo room. With the second row of seats folded down, cargo capacity expands to 53 cubic feet.

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These days, the Macan is available in five trims levels with three different engines. Sitting at the top of the lineup is the Turbo with Performance Package.

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Under the hood is a 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged, all-aluminium V6 engine.

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In the Macan Turbo, the 3.6-litre motor puts out a stout 400 horsepower. With the Performance Package, Porsche ups the output 10% to 440 ponies.

The base Macan is powered by a VW Group-sourced 2.0-litre, 252 horsepower, turbocharged inline-four-cylinder engine. Step up a tier to the Macan S and you get a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 putting out 340 horsepower. Move up another notch to the Macan GTS and you’ll get a 360 horsepower version of the V6 found in the S.

In addition to the extra juice, Performance Package Turbos get larger brakes and a lowered sport chassis. The top spec cars also get Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package and sport exhaust as standard.

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The 3.6-litre power unit is hooked up to a seven-speed Porsche double-clutch or PDK transmission feeding power to all four wheels.

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Step on the gas; the Macan can really boogie. According to Porsche, our launch control-equipped Performance Package tester can hit 60 mph in a 911-esque 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 169 mph.

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How is it to drive?

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Without a doubt, the Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package is the best-driving crossover SUV in the world. This is made evident by our test car, which is equipped with just about every performance goody available on the Macan – including a $US1,490 Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus system that helps the car go around corners more effectively.

On the winding country roads of rural New Jersey, our Macan tester performed wonderfully in spite of the cold temperatures. To drive, the Macan can best be described as confidence inspiring. While most SUVs do their best to “handle” the corners, the Macan prefers to attack them aggressively. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you are in a 4,200-pound SUV and not a two-seat sports car.

However, the Macan isn’t so competent that it’s bordering on boring. Its active all-wheel-drive system is rear-biased and normally sends 95% of the power to the back wheels. Very rarely can you get the rear end of an SUV to step out in a controlled manner like a sports car. And yet, you can with the Macan.

The verdict.

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The Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package is one of the most impressive SUVs I’ve ever encountered. And as you know already, it’s the best to drive.

But at $US96,295 with options, it’s freaking expensive.

Our latest Porsche 911 Carrera test car cost just a few hundred bucks more. And I understand that this model is meant to be the high-performance halo atop the Macan lineup. As you can tell by the name, the Performance Package is loaded with the greatest hits from Porsche’s bag of performance wizardry. But for the most part, their presence isn’t really evident unless you take the Macan out on a race track. So for the vast majority of us in the market for a Macan, they’re pretty much useless.

In addition, the interior of our test car was dull and uninspiring. While it’s loaded with tech features, it doesn’t quite feel up to snuff for a premium vehicle in its price range.

It should be noted that our particular car was originally brought to the US for the buff books to conduct performance testing. So the performance options and the somewhat spartan interior are understandable.

You may be a bit confused at this point. Does he like the car? Or does he hate it?

In truth, I’d say if you’re looking for a fun compact premium crossover, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better executed than the Porsche Macan. But what I’ll also tell you is don’t buy this particular Porsche Macan.

Instead of spending $US96,295 on the Turbo with Performance Package, save $US30,000 and buy a 340-horsepower Macan S. It’s not as quick as the flagship Turbo with a zero-to-60 time of 5.2 seconds, but it delivers 95% of the experience at two-thirds the price.

And if you really want a track-focused Porsche, use the $US30,000 you just saved on a secondhand 911 or Cayman.

So, my verdict on the Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package is to buy a Macan S instead.

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