ROAD TEST: Porsche Macan S is a sports car on stilts
TEARING out of a corner with four fat Michelins digging into the tarmac, it's easy to see why Porsche insists the Macan is "the sports car in its segment".
Significantly heavier, slower and cheaper than the brand's timeless 911, the compact SUV still delivers on Porsche's promise of precision and performance few cars in its category can match.
Introduced in 2014 as a little brother to the groundbreaking Cayenne SUV, the Macan went on to become Porsche's best-selling model at home and abroad.
Almost 10,000 Australians have strolled past Audi, Benz and BMW dealerships to put one in the driveway.
Revitalised for 2019, the Macan wears design details in line with the latest Panamera sedan and Cayenne SUV.
The most obvious change externally is the reprofiled rear with a full-width LED light strip. There are more significant developments to go with the improved sound insulation in the cabin, which is home to a new 10.9-inch touchscreen with internet-powered apps and a steering wheel pinched from the 911.
At the Macan's Australian launch north of Melbourne, the V6-powered S was the sole version to test.
Priced from $97,500 plus on-roads ($2000 more than before), the Porsche comes in slightly cheaper than rivals such as the Audi SQ5 and BMW X4 M40i - a neat trick considering the allure of that Stuttgart crest on the bonnet.
But the Porsche's value proposition falls down when you look at the options list.
Buyers compelled by driver appeal will want to add a sports exhaust ($5390), sports chrono timing and driving modes ($2490) and a torque vectoring differential ($3590).
Safety kit such as active cruise control with emergency braking ($2410) or blind spot warning ($1390) also adds to the bill. You'll find much of that as standard in cheaper machines.
Further pain comes at the dealership every 12 months or 15,000km, as capped servicing isn't on the menu. Prices advertised by one Melbourne dealer average $966 for the first five years, which certainly isn't cheap.
The 3.0-litre V6 tested produces 260kW/480Nm thanks to a new twin-scroll turbocharger adding 10kW/20Nm to the previous car's outputs.
Porsche says the Macan S is good for a 5.1-second dash from rest to 100km/h before reaching a top speed of 254km/h.
Customers can unleash the car's potential with the prod of a "sport response" button on the steering wheel - it primes the engine, slick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel drive to deliver maximum performance for 20 seconds.
The Macan doesn't feel significantly quicker than key rivals but other compact SUVs can't match its crisp braking and steering responses.
Multi-mode suspension retains its composure even when riding on 21-inch wheels, and the reworked interior makes the Macan a much more pleasant place to be during the daily grind.
The Macan stays flat when cornering, retaining the composure of a well-sorted hot hatch or sports sedan, if not a single-minded coupe.
Porsche has confirmed the next-generation Macan SUV will be powered solely by electricity. The mid-size SUV is due to enter production early next decade, arriving after the electric Taycan sports car and Taycan Sports Turismo wagon. Porsche's chairman Oliver Blume says the electric vehicles blend well with the company ethos. "Electromobility and Porsche go together perfectly; not just because they share a high-efficiency approach but especially because of their sporty character," says Blume
Porsche plans to have half its new vehicles with some form of electrification - hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric - by 2025. The company has already ditched diesels from its line-up in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal that enveloped parent company Volkswagen.
Price: Prices are up for the Macan ($1690) and Macan S ($2000)
Tech: 10.9-inch touchscreen with beautiful satellite imagery replaces the 7.2-inch job in the outgoing model. Improved features and connectivity, including a clever app that can display images from your home security camera.
Performance: Diesel is dead at Porsche, so you pick from four or six-cylinder petrol engines. A 10kW power bump for the V6-powered Macan S drops its 0-100km/h time from 5.2 secs to 5.1. The addition of a coasting mode reduces fuel use.
Driving: Incremental benefits thanks to reworked suspension and transmission.
Design: Mild changes to the front but a significant tweak at the rear, with deeply sculpted LED tail-lamps running the width of the car.
A dynamic stand-out, the Macan S is let down by a lack of standard features, expensive options and rich servicing.
Porsche Macan S vitals
Price: $97,500 (above avg)
Warranty/servicing: 3yrs/unlimited km (average), about $2100 for 3 years
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo, 260kW/480Nm (strong)
Safety: Not yet rated, 6 airbags, lane departure warning (below avg)
Fuel use: 8.9L/100km (above avg)
Spare: Space-saver (not good)
Boot: 500L (good)