2023 Porsche Macan T First Drive Review

MONROVIA, Calif. – The basic four-cylinder Porsche Macan may be easy to find on dealer lots, as many people buy them, but finding a car reviewer like yours who has actually driven one is very difficult. You see, when the 2.0-litre turbo was introduced, there was hardly the usual fanfare associated with a new Porsche variant – no first-drive events that we can remember, and none of our editors have been there ever since. drove one. Until now. The 2023 Porsche Macan T is finally putting the base engine in the spotlight by showing it’s good for something other than drastically lowering the starting point of both the Macan and the entire Porsche brand.

It’s immediately apparent that the 2.0-liter turbo inline-four (versus the 2.0-liter turbo boxer-four in the 718), which produces 261 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, provides competitive thrust for the compact luxury SUV segment. It shouldn’t surprise you, but it’s also fast enough that you don’t stare at the Porsche decal on the steering wheel and say, “Really?” That said, the 0-60 sprint is clocked at 5.8 seconds, which is actually a tad slower than the Audi Q5 which uses a less powerful version of roughly the same engine.

Of course, the Audi doesn’t benefit from the Macan’s exceptional PDK transmission, which scrapes through the gears with precision, typically upshifting and downshifting when you would. If you really want a taste of the old school, using the big old paddle shifters is a tactile treat and makes for quick responses from the PDK.

Ultimately, what is most striking about this engine is that it does not stand out at all. It’s very quiet, as if Porsche’s engineers were just as reluctant to spotlight the 2.0-litre as were Porsche enthusiasts. A sports exhaust can be added, and while our test vehicle wasn’t quite as equipped, it’s easy to recommend checking that particular option box, even if it costs $2,930. The Macan T could use a little (or a lot) of the audible drama that louder pipes would provide, as it seems like the missing part of what is otherwise an exciting little SUV that offers way more fun than the segment norm and definitely feels like a real Porsche behind the wheel.

Like other Porsche T models, the Macan T 2023 takes that base engine and combines it with connoisseurs’ choice of performance features that would otherwise be options or only available on higher trim levels like the GTS. The “PASM” adaptive damping system is standard (as on the V6-powered Macan S), along with the Sport Chrono package that includes a Sport Plus mode, launch control, the dashboard clock and a steering wheel equipped with a mode switch and Sport Response overboost button. Compared to the base 2.0-litre Macan, the all-wheel drive and Porsche Traction Management systems have greater rearward power distribution.

Optional improvements, delivered in our test car, include adaptive air suspension with T-specific reinforced anti-roll bars, tuning inspired by the Macan GTS and a lowered ride height of 10 millimeters. Also optional is the brake-based Torque Vectoring Plus system specially tuned for the T.

That such a consistent feature as air suspension is optional makes it even harder to determine the Macan T’s advantage over lesser versions (remember, we haven’t ridden that base Macan yet). However, I can at least report that the Macan T certainly feels like the last Macan I drove: the GTS. It may not have all the thrust or sound, but everything feels equally tight, precise and connected to your body. From your fingertips to your trouser legs, you feel a constant involvement with the car in a way you just don’t get from other SUVs. In fact, it doesn’t feel like an SUV at all, apart from the constant cognitive dissonance of your forward vision being higher off the ground than any other sensation signals you should be.

Like the GTS, the Macan T offers the kind of exceptional ride and handling we’ve come to expect from Porsche’s air suspension. While the ride in normal mode is firmer than the class norm (an Audi Q5), it’s never harsh or tiring, even on imperfect pavement. You feel the road without punishment. It won’t even beat you in its firmest setting, which you often have to skip in Porsche sports cars because it not only makes you bounce back and forth as if there is an ongoing earthquake, but can also disrupt the chassis with bumps in the middle of the corner . Just as the Macan GTS shrugged off such an imperfect road surface when we loaded one up on Pike’s Peak in 2016, the Macan T similarly takes advantage of the increased suspension travel offered by a larger vehicle, as well as the power of the air suspension. to maintain heightened control and composure.

Also noticed on our ride up San Gabriel Mountain Road (and trip down…and another trip up and down), the rear end twisting itself through and out of corners was no doubt the result of the rear-biased four-wheel drive and Torque Vectoring Plus system . This makes the Macan feel more like rear-wheel drive. The 129 pounds missing on top of the front wheels probably aids in that endeavor compared to the V6 Macans — indeed, the Macan T’s small four-cylinder actually gives it an edge. Theoretically. Without a back-to-back drive, it’s hard to tell the sharper the nose turns inward or the overall more nimble it feels (if at all), but removing that much weight has to count for something.

Visually, the Macan T gets standard 20-inch wheels finished in “dark titanium”. These are optional on other Macan variants, but the Agate Gray metallic trim on the grille, mirrors, side blades, roof spoiler and rear logos is unique to the Macan T. The tinted LED taillights are a Porsche Exclusive custom option. The interior features exclusive striped cloth upholstery, accentuated by contrasting silver stitching that extends to the headrests and steering wheel.

Our test car came with the optional Race-Tex suede-style steering wheel and carbon fiber trim, both of which I’d like to miss. There was also a boatload of other options on our test car, which have nothing to do with extra performance and are optional on other Macans. By our estimate, the test car had more than $22,000 worth of options on top of an estimated base price “in the low range of $60,000” (official prices to be announced at a later date).

However, if you’re just considering a basic Macan T with no option, you’re looking at something that costs about the same as adding PASM, the Sport Chrono package, and other added features to a basic Macan that starts at $56,250. In that scenario, however, you’d go without the T’s special design cues and rear-facing Porsche Traction Management system, nor would you have access to the T’s upgraded air suspension and Torque Vectoring Plus versions. base Macan T should cost a few thousand less than a base Macan S. In other words, the T represents good value (very relatively speaking) if you want a performance Macan but don’t want a thirstier engine.

And indeed, there the Macan T really makes sense. It’s a smart range extension, especially in light of growing concerns about fuel economy. Even if your head said the base four-cylinder was a good choice, your heart said a Volkswagen Group 2.0-liter turbo just seemed wrong for something with a Porsche decal. And you wouldn’t be wrong as the engine is quite characterless. But with the Macan T’s various improvements, the base engine seems easier to overlook, as the rest of the dynamic package is so clearly consistent with what you’d expect from a Porsche. Of course you have to check the right option boxes, especially the air suspension… that is also what you can expect from a Porsche.