Fast flagship version of the Macan has finally arrived, but does the extra performance justify its higher asking price?

Find Porsche Macan Turbo deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
New car deals
Nearly-new car deals
From £61,000
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

This is the long-awaited, top-of-the-range Turbo version of the Porsche Macan. Yes all Porsche Macans have turbo engines, but like the new electrically-powered Porsche Taycan, the big ‘T’ turbo badge now denotes a level of performance rather than any under bonnet shenanigans.

Now, Porsche has been forced to drip-feed the flow of its new Macan models, the combination of the SUV’s popularity in showrooms and the rigours of WLTP sign-off stretching even Stuttgart’s near inexhaustible resources. As a result it’s only now, nearly 12 months after the facelifted Macan made its debut, that we’re finally seeing this Turbo flagship. So has the fastest and traditionally sportiest of the firm’s sports utility vehicles been worth the wait?

There’s typical Porsche weight and precision to the controls that makes it more involving than any other car of its type

How does the updated Macan Turbo stand out from the rest of the range?

Well Porsche has certainly gone a little further with the update of the Turbo than other versions. There’s a new engine for instance, the old 3.6-litre V6 being ditched in favour of a downsized yet more powerful 2.9-litre. Featuring a pair of ‘hot vee’ turbos (the sort that, for quicker response, nestle on top of the engine between the banks of cylinders) it delivers 434bhp, which is an increase of 40bhp, and a thumping 406lb ft of torque at just 1,800rpm. Exhaust manifolds integrated into the heads promise to reduce weight and boost efficiency, while new dynamic engine mounts aim to restrict the units movement during extreme cornering, boosting both agility and steering accuracy and speed.

Back to top

The remaining mechanical modifications are more modest and run to a rear track that’s 3mm wider than a standard Macan’s, plus subtly recalibrated anti-roll bar settings and new, lighter aluminium spring forks that locate the springs and dampers to the front hubs. Of course our test car was fitted with the full gamut of suspension upgrades, including the height adjustable air suspension with its revised dampers and the Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) active rear differential. Finally, all Turbo models get the neat tungsten carbide coated cast iron brake discs that are a sort of halfway house between standard stoppers and the eye-wateringly expensive carbon ceramics. In all our car weighed in at in excess of £100,000. Yikes!

Visually the Turbo gets the latest car’s subtle sheet metal changes, yet it also receives a bespoke nose treatment that delivers a 12mm shorter overhang, helping giving the car a subtly stockier stance. The final go-faster addition is small double-decker spoiler at the top of the tailgate.

How does the Macan Turbo perform on the road? 

On the move, the Turbo feels very familiar. For starters, apart from the larger 10.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system and some new materials the interior is pretty much identical. For an SUV you can sit remarkably low thanks to a wide range of seat adjustment, while the three-spoke steering is exactly the same as the one you get in a Porsche 911. As you’d expect, everything has a top notch look and feel, although the clunky digital displays for the climate control are a reminder of the old heart that beats under the new clothes.

Even the new engine sounds and feels similar to the one it replaces, delivering effortless, rapid acceleration but in the same slightly characterless way. An optional sports exhaust adds a distant baritone and some cracks and pops, but the combination of near flat torque curve, seamless seven-speed PDK and terrific four-wheel drive traction means even hard acceleration feels less dramatic than the numbers (0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, or 4.3 seconds with Sport Chrono) suggest. The V8 in the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 knocks it into a cocked hat for noise and drama, while in terms of raw outright pace the Turbo doesn’t have as decisive performance advantage over the S as you’d hope.

Back to top

Still, as ever the Porsche’s abilities in the corners leave your head spinning. Such is the car’s ability to disguise its height and portly 1,945kg kerb weight that if Sir Issac Newton were around today then a quick blast in the Turbo would have him flicking through the pages of his Principia and frantically double-checking all his calculations about the laws of motion.

Point the stubbier nose into a corner and you’ll discover plenty of bite from the front axle, while the Macan rotates quickly and resists roll with a cast iron resolve, helping the car to scythe from entry to apex and onto the exit with uncanny grip and poise. Agility is further enhanced by the trick torque-vectoring rear differential that allows you to get on the throttle earlier by overdriving the outside rear wheel to have you pointing straighter sooner. And of course there’s typical Porsche weight and precision to the controls that makes it more involving than any other car of its type, while even the standard brakes tirelessly haul the Macan down from big speeds.

In the changeable conditions of our test route the Porsche’s sure-footedness was a real boon, and when the road is slippery and unfamiliar its ability to leave dedicated sports cars in its spray is pretty remarkable. You soon forget you’re pedalling a high-rise SUV with a two ton kerbweight and start throwing it around like a sports saloon. In the wet and with the stability control disengaged there’s even the opportunity for some power oversteer on the exit of hairpins.

Overall the ride treads a fine line between suppleness and control, but sharp imperfections cause some slow speed stiff-legged turbulence - although our car’s vast 21-inch alloys are the likely culprit here. For the rest of the time the Macan is simply a very quick, comfortable, refined and practical family express.

If you want an SUV that’s a good to drive as a sports saloon, then the Macan is still the default choice. It’s ability to seemingly shed 50 percent of its mass and height when you want to hustle it through a series of corners almost defies rational explanation - this is a car that saunters up to the laws of physics and pulls its pants down. The fact it’s practical, quiet and comfortable - knobbly low speed ride aside - is the icing on the cake.

Back to top

However, while the Turbo is the fastest version on paper, in the real world it doesn’t go quite as hard as you’d expect, while that V6 lacks character. It’s still a brilliant piece of kit, but the standard and S versions serve-up the same sublime driving dynamics and, in the case of the S, aren’t much slower in the real world.


James Disdale

James Disdale
Title: Special correspondent

James is a special correspondent for Autocar, which means he turns his hand to pretty much anything, including delivering first drive verdicts, gathering together group tests, formulating features and keeping Autocar.co.uk topped-up with the latest news and reviews. He also co-hosts the odd podcast and occasional video with Autocar’s esteemed Editor-at-large, Matt Prior.

For more than a decade and a half James has been writing about cars, in which time he has driven pretty much everything from humble hatchbacks to the highest of high performance machines. Having started his automotive career on, ahem, another weekly automotive magazine, he rose through the ranks and spent many years running that title’s road test desk. This was followed by a stint doing the same job for monthly title, evo, before starting a freelance career in 2019. The less said about his wilderness, post-university years selling mobile phones and insurance, the better.