Porsche Macan T2023 First Drive Test Drive

Monrovia, CA – It can be easy to find a four-cylinder Porsche Macan at a lot of dealers, as a lot of people buy it, but finding an auto reference that really likes yours and who has actually driven one of them is very difficult. You see, when the 2.0-liter turbo was introduced, there wasn’t any of the usual fanfare associated with Porsche’s new variant—no initial driving events that we can remember, and none of our editors have driven one since. Until now. The 2023 Porsche Macan T finally highlights the base engine by showing that it’s good for something other than dramatically lowering the entry point of both the Macan and the entire Porsche brand.

Right away, it’s clear that the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (versus the 718’s 2.0-liter turbo-boxer), which produces 261 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, provides competitive traction for the compact luxury SUV segment. It doesn’t dazzle you, but it’s also fast enough that you don’t stare at the Porsche badge at the steering wheel and go, “Really?” However, the 0-60 sprint is clocked in 5.8 seconds, which is actually a mark slower than the Audi Q5 which uses a less powerful version of roughly the same engine.

Of course, Audi doesn’t benefit from the Macan’s exceptional PDK transmission, which cuts through gears precisely, and usually shifts up or down when you want it to. If you really want a taste of the old school, using old-fashioned paddle shifters is a concrete treat and results in quick PDK reactions.

In the end, the most unique thing about this engine is that it doesn’t stand out at all. It’s so quiet, as if Porsche’s engineers were just as conservative about highlighting the 2.0-liter as Porsche enthusiasts are. A sport exhaust can be added, and while our test car wasn’t well-equipped, it’s easy to recommend checking out this particular option box even though it comes out to $2,930. The Macan T could use as little (or a lot) of the audible drama those loud tubes would provide, sounding like the missing piece for what is otherwise an exciting little SUV that delivers much more fun than the standard of the part and feels just like a real Porsche behind the wheel .

Like other Porsche T models, the 2023 Macan T takes that base engine and pairs it with an expert choice of performance-oriented features that might be options or only available in upper trim levels like the GTS. Adaptive damping ‘PASM’ is standard (as on the V6-powered Macan S), along with a Sport Chrono package that adds Sport Plus mode, launch control, a dashboard top clock, a steering wheel with a mode switch and an overboost sport response button. . Compared to the base Macan’s 2.0-liter engine, the two-wheel drive and Porsche Traction Management systems have more power distribution to the rear.

Optional improvements, which were fitted to our test vehicle, include adaptive air suspension with reinforced T-bars, Macan GTS-inspired tuning and a 10mm lower ride height. Also optional is the brake-based Torque Vectoring Plus system tuned specifically for the T.

Such an accessory feature as the optional air suspension makes it hard to spot the Macan T on lower versions (remember, we still haven’t driven that base Macan). However, I can at least report that the Macan T definitely looks like the last Macan I drove: the GTS. It may not have all the thrust or noise, but everything feels taut, subtle, and connected to your body. From your fingertips to the seat of your pants, you constantly feel involved in the car in a way you 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 vision ahead being higher off the ground than any other sense you ought to be would suggest.

Like the GTS, the Macan T delivers the kind of exceptional ride and handling balance we’ve come to expect from a Porsche air suspension. Although the ride in normal mode is stronger than usual in the class (for example, the Audi Q5), it is not harsh or cumbersome even on imperfect pavement. Feel the way unpunished. It doesn’t even hit you in its harshest conditions, which you often have to skip in Porsche sports cars because it not only jumps you out like there’s an ongoing seismic event, but can also upset the chassis with bumps in the middle of the corner. As much as the Macan GTS shrugged off such imperfect pavement when we shipped Pike’s Peak back in 2016, the Macan T likewise benefits from greater suspension travel offered by a longer vehicle, as well as the ability of the air suspension to subtly balance increased handling and traction. Uncomfortable.

Also observed during our trip up the San Gabriel Mountain Trail (and our trip down…and another trip up and down again), the rear end was spinning through and out of corners, no doubt as a result of rear-biased 4WD and the Torque Vectoring Plus system. It makes the Macan feel like a tailgate. That endeavor would likely help in losing 129 pounds off the top of the front wheels compared to the Macan’s V6 engine—in fact, the Macan T’s small four-cylinder engine actually gives it an advantage. theoretically. Without consecutive driving, it’s hard to say how sharp the nose is or how slender in general (if at all), but removing that extra weight has to account for something.

Visually, the Macan T gets standard 20-inch wheels in “dark titanium”. These are optional on other Macan models, but the Agate Gray Metallic trim on the grille, mirrors, side blades, roof spoiler and rear badges is unique to the Macan T. The colored LED taillights are a Porsche-exclusive custom option. The interior gets exclusive striped fabric upholstery with silver contrast stitching that extends to the headrests and steering wheel.

Our test car came with an optional Race-Tex suede-like steering wheel and carbon fiber trim, both of which I would do without. There was also a boatload of other options on our test car, none of which have anything to do with added performance and are optional on other Macs. By our estimation, the concept car had more than $22,000 options in addition to an estimated base price “in the low $60,000 range” (official pricing to be announced later).

However, if you’re only considering the base Macan T with no option, you’re looking at something that costs roughly the same as adding the PASM, Sport Chrono package and other features added to the base Macan that starts at $56,250. In this scenario, though, you’d go without the T’s special design elements and the rear-biased Porsche Traction Management, and you also wouldn’t have access to the T-optimized versions of the air suspension and Torque Vectoring Plus. Furthermore, the base Macan T should cost a few thousand less than the Macan S. In other words, the T is a good value (in very relative terms) if you want a performance-oriented Macan but don’t want a thirstier engine.

And indeed, this is where the Macan T really makes sense. It’s a smart extension of the range, especially in light of growing concerns about fuel economy. Even if your head was saying the base four-cylinder was a good call, your heart was saying that the Volkswagen Group’s 2.0-liter turbo looks wrong for something wearing a Porsche badge. And you will not be mistaken, because the engine is featureless. But, with the Macan T’s various improvements, the base engine seems easier to overlook, as the rest of the dynamic package is clearly in line with what one would expect from a Porsche. Of course, you need to check the boxes for the correct options, specifically the air suspension… which is also what one would expect from a Porsche.

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