Review: 2019 Porsche Macan S
Shines on Newfoundland’s roads
There are any number of ways to go about starting a review of the 2019 Porsche Macan S.
Practical: You can buy a Porsche for $55,500, or $63,000, depending on the size of the engine.
Whimsical: A homeowner hires a handyman to paint the porch at the front of his house brown. He comes home and his porch is the same but his silver Porsche 911 in the driveway is now brown. The handyman’s excuse: “You told me to paint your porch brown, which I did.” Screamed the homeowner, “The porch, not the Porsche.” Moral: next time, think of Portia, the heroine in the Merchant of Venice, when explaining what’s to be painted.
Anecdotal: The pharmacist in the Toronto drugstore I used to frequent when I lived there owns a Porsche Macan S. She loved it when she bought it in 2015 and she loves it today. She has her reasons, which I will detail later, but suffice it to say she had her eye on a Porsche from the time she was a little girl. “It was a prestige brand,” she said. “I wanted one.”
Personal: I was en route 11 days ago to attend, and write about, the 2019 Grand Prix du Canada in Montreal when I took a detour to the Deer Lake-Corner Brook area of northwestern Newfoundland to drink in the scenery, enjoy the cod (it’s making a comeback!) and drive the five-door compact crossover SUV. Verdict: the car is wonderful, the scenery is wonderful, the people are wonderful and I had never had partridgeberries before, but now I have and another one of life’s mysteries (what in the world is a partridgeberry?) has been cleared up.
During a briefing that was held before about 10 of us got to hit the road to put the Macan through its paces, Patrick Saint-Pierre, manager of public relations for Porsche Cars Canada, Ltd., said 2018 was a banner year for the company, with 3,960 new Macan models delivered to customers out of a total of 8,904 Porsches sold across the country, making it the brand’s bestselling model. In all, since it was introduced in Canada, 14,937 Macans have been sold here; worldwide, the number is 350,000-plus.
“It is an important model for us,” he said.
Among some of the things Saint-Pierre pointed out about the exterior: the 2019 Macan S has a slightly restyled front fascia (front grille, front-and-rear bumpers, etc.), new-size (and new design) wheel rims that go from 18 to 21 inches and LED headlights front and rear — plus, the back lights are connected by a full-width light bar. There are also some new colours, four in all.
Inside, the HD touch screen is bigger (10.9 inches, up from 7.2) for infotainment and connectivity (the 4G LTE on-board Wi-Fi feature is standard and there is web-based navigation). There are new air vents, an air ionizer to improve air quality in the cabin, USB ports are all around and there’s a heated front windshield. A GT sports steering wheel (you can have it heated as an option) is available. There are various driving modes on offer, as well as apps. (Good for Saint-Pierre, who — unlike others in his position at other manufacturers — noted that while there was an off-road app, he didn’t know of too many Macan S owners who went off-roading in that particular SUV.)
Many of the controls are on the centre console (with the others on the touch screen). You just have to push the right buttons.
An aside: there are lots of buttons to push or icons to touch in just about every new car on the road today, not just Porsches. People complain that they have to take their eyes off the road to find these things.
I was at a luncheon with Alfa Romeo F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi prior to the Grand Prix, and he talked about the steering wheels in modern Grand Prix cars that have a minimum of 25 buttons on them. “We have to memorize where they are and what they do,” he said.
“If I am in the race and I hear on the radio that I have to adjust the brake bias on the car, I can’t take my eyes away from what I’m doing to hunt around for that button or buttons. We’re going too fast; it could be dangerous. So, I have a picture in my mind about where each button is and what it does.”
So, I suggest that we all take a page out of that racing’s driver’s book. If anyone’s worried about driving distractedly, I suggest it’s time to memorize the controls/buttons on the console and touch screen.
But I digress.
More on the interior: the car is easy to enter and to exit. The seats are plush and comfortable, both front and back (although, while it seats five, the middle seat in the back is not comfortable). I sat in the back seat for awhile and tested the ones behind the driver and passenger seats and found there to be plenty of room for a tall guy like me. Oh, and there are air vents back there and climate controls, too. The 10-speaker Bose sound system is so good that you could swear the Toronto Symphony was all around and you were the conductor in the middle. The trunk — oops, cargo hold — is not particularly roomy, but there’s a lot more room when you put down the rear seats.
The $55,500 Macan is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that boasts 248 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. The $63,000 Macan S has a 3.0-litre V6 engine with a single turbocharger. It develops 348 hp and 352 lb.-ft. of torque. Both have all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission.
You will note that the $55,500 and $63,000 numbers are MSRPs for, pretty much, a basic car. If you want the extras — the options — it will cost you. For instance, automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are options that will push the prices up. There are lots of other things. In fact, with the Macan S, if you drove out of a dealership with a car loaded with every conceivable bell and whistle, you could be looking at a price north of $90,000.
But for $55,500 for the Macan and $63,000 for the Macan S, you can buy a Porsche, and that is really saying something. And they are in showrooms now.
Out on the road, it might be an SUV but it drives like a sports car, and that is one of its main attractions (maybe the attraction), particularly for older people who are looking for practicality but still want some oomph under the hood and handling on the road when they go out for a drive.
Our route took us from the Holiday Inn Express in Deer Lake to Trout River, over to Norris Point (yup) and St. Pauls and then back to Deer Lake. We drove through Gros Morne National Park, which is breathtaking; the fjords that rival Norway’s are spectacular. Unfortunately, to really appreciate them, you have to hike in from the highway for about two hours, which prevented us from getting up close.
The roads in Newfoundland are like roads anywhere — some great, some not-so-great. The ones that were bumpy seemed like a challenge to the Macan and the suspension passed with flying colours. Yes, you knew you had gone over a bump, but the shock was minimal. The only car I can compare that to was a Ford Crown Victoria I rented a dozen years ago, or so, for a driving trip through Nova Scotia, and it delivered a really smooth ride, just like the Porsche.
Mash the throttle and you can feel the power of that V6. We didn’t have a stop watch (former Wheels contributor Costa Mouzouris was my co-driver) but we went from zero to 100 km/h quickly (it reportedly takes 5.1 seconds to do that). We went zipping along some winding coastal roads and the car felt glued to the highway, as if it had the downforce you would experience in a formula racing car. The steering was sharp — precise might be a better word.
Before we embarked on our daylong journey, we were told to keep an eye out for moose, of which there are a lot in Newfoundland. The highway signs showing a crumpled car and a moose are not for amusement. That really is what can happen if you crash into one. But, alas, we did not see one of those majestic creatures on the day we were there. I feel like I missed out on something.
I asked my old pharmacist the other day what she liked about her Porsche. I almost couldn’t get her to stop talking.
“It’s a pleasure to drive,” she said. “It’s easy to handle, the response is terrific and it’s got fast pickup. It’s comfortable and turns corners well. I like that it feels like a sports car, but I have a family and it’s functional. It’s fun to drive and it’s affordable.”
You know, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks, Doc.