The Macan S is a very simple car to drive. Visibility is good, it feels compact, the engine is smooth and docile at low revs and in the automatic shift mode you choose most of the time its changes are imperceptible, far more seamless than dual-clutch ’boxes a few years ago. Give the car its head and it also displays a big but effortless turn of speed, the V6 turbo engine emitting a growl-whine that says high performance but not too loudly.
The Macan is beautifully stable, a quality that combines with sensitive, perfectly weighted steering and reasonably compact dimensions to make it easy to punt briskly on back roads. In contrast to many Porsches, road surface noise is acceptably well controlled (without being class-leading). Perhaps that’s because the S runs 20in wheels as opposed to the GTS’s 21s and thus has taller, more flexible tyre sidewalls.
It probably sounds a perverse kind of criticism, but if anything the Macan is a little too refined, a little too easy to drive, hiding its capability too well. If you drive a lot in town and fail to exploit the outer reaches of the longish-travel accelerator, you could believe (but for the badges) that you’re driving a much more basic member of the Volkswagen Group family. We’re not sure that’s what Porsche buyers really want.
There’s a pretty good remedy, of course. The Macan is one of a very few SUV models whose maker has performance driving experience centres dotted all over the world, notably in the UK beside the Silverstone grand prix circuit. Go there in our Macan, climb in with an instructor (as owners are invited to do) and you’ll pretty soon find yourself unleashing capabilities that can match those of decent, purpose-built sports cars.