A gas-powered swan song
THE GOOD
  • Buttoned-down drive
  • Exterior styling
  • Reasonably roomy
THE BAD
  • New touch controls
  • A bit underpowered
  • No proper manual mode

With electrification in its future, the 2022 Porsche Macan marks the beginning of the end of an era for this popular sport utility.

That’s right: the new Macan that’s set to arrive sometime next year will be entirely electric à la the Taycan before it – the latest to make the shift to zero emissions, but certainly not the last. And while the brand plans to continue selling gas-powered versions like this alongside electric ones, at least for a little while, the updates found here will likely be the last for this practical Porsche.

There’s no need to panic from fear that the 2022 Macan feels outdated; far from it, in fact, with exterior styling cues that more closely resemble those of its Cayenne sibling and a cabin that’s been modernized at least a bit. If anything, the updates inside stray a little too far towards the future, with most traditional controls ditched in favour of touch-based ones that can be as tricky to use as they are to keep clean.

Driving Feel: 10/10

Looking at it glass half full, those are fairly minor grievances for what’s among the nicest driving SUVs of its size on the market. Feign surprise, right? This is still a Porsche, after all, and the Macan is an absolute pleasure to pilot.

Fair warning: it shouldn’t be confused for one of the pliable premium SUVs this segment is made of, with stiff suspension and heavy steering that are befitting of the Porsche badge. It’s still very much refined; it would even be fair to describe the Macan as comfortable, but in its own way. Rather than spongy spring rates and sedated steering sensation, the Macan is refreshingly rewarding to drive – even in entry-level trim.

The powertrain may not have the sense of urgency that exists elsewhere in the lineup, but this turbocharged 2.0L packs an almost appropriate punch (there’s a sport mode for some extra enthusiasm when required). And with less weight over the front wheels compared to its six-cylinder stablemates, its agility on winding roads is outstanding.

Power: 7/10

The four-cylinder generates 261 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque – not especially standout numbers, particularly for a Porsche. In fairness, that’s a bit more output than something like the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 generates, but then it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect more from one of this brand’s products. Considering the next step up in the lineup, the Macan S, makes 375 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, there’s room for at least a little more from this 2.0L.

Even so, the engine pulls hard, particularly high in the rev range, working well with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and rear-biased all-wheel drive system to get the roughly 1,920-kg (4,233-lb) Macan moving. In a manner that’s fairly typical of this type of transmission, there can be some hesitation to get rolling with gentle throttle application, but it’s nothing a heavy foot can’t solve.

Fuel Economy: 7/10

Despite the disparity in output, the base Macan isn’t much thriftier than its six-cylinder siblings, with an official consumption estimate of 11.0 L/100 km combined. Meanwhile, the S and GTS models that use a 2.9L V6 – with varying levels of output, of course – are good for 12.2 L/100 km combined (the former does a little worse in the city but better on the highway).

Over at Mercedes, the entry-level GLC-Class is rated for 10.4 L/100 km combined, while the base BMW X3 is rated at just 9.9 and the Audi Q5 does even better at 9.3. In the Macan’s favour is an ability to overachieve, with a roughly 210-km evaluation drive to kick off this week-long test registering at just 9.6 L/100 km. The full week finished at 10.7 over the course of about 420 km.

Practicality: 9/10

No matter the trim, the Macan exudes big cottage country cruiser or winter wine tour energy – or maybe both. While those are usually jobs for GT cars like Porsche’s own 911 (in the right trim, naturally), there’s something about this sport utility that makes it seem – gasp! – better suited for them.

No, the Macan will never deliver the same kind of driving satisfaction of a 911; but it manages to combine characteristics of its own that are pleasingly similar to those of the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 while providing space for four inside and enough cargo room for all their stuff. Even accessing the space itself is easier than any car out there, GT or otherwise, with good ingress and egress and a low liftover height around back.

Officially, there’s 488 L behind the back seats and 1,503 L with them stowed, slightly less than its rivals but not enough to be considered a disadvantage. The bench folds in a praise-worthy 40/20/40 split, which means there are still two full seats in the back while long items can be stashed down the middle.

User Friendliness: 7/10

Infotainment functionality is run through a 10.9-inch touchscreen, with wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity (Porsche is one of the few brands that still doesn’t offer Android Auto). The display itself boasts crisp colours and graphics, with good overall responsiveness. But while the interface’s various functions, including navigation, can occupy almost the entire screen, the built-in iPhone connection only works in a shrunken format. Given everything else that’s happening on the display – there are tile-like shortcut icons that occupy the far third of the screen – it’s all a little overwhelming.

The biggest change to the Macan for 2022 is found inside, with a new console that’s no longer the cluttered collection of buttons it was before. In its place is a haptic touch panel that certainly looks more streamlined but lacks the sensory feedback of physical switchgear. While the new sensors are responsive enough to inputs, they’re virtually impossible to use without at least a cursory glance.

Graciously, there are toggles for temperature control, and a proper volume knob on the centre stack (oddly, the knob on the right isn’t for tuning, but rather works as a scroll wheel to operate the infotainment system). And, of course, there are controls on the steering wheel to manage volume, voice commands, and cruise control, among others.

Styling: 8/10

The other issue with the new touch controls is that they don’t match well with the rest of the switchgear inside, which remains the same as before. Beyond the window switches on the doors, the bank of buttons overhead for the sunroof and interior lights, among other functions, looks out of place here given it’s the same as it was before. It’s a kind of mishmash of old and new that doesn’t quite jive. (There’s also the problem of how prone to scratches the touch panel is, not to mention its ability to attract dust and smudges.)

In typical Porsche fashion, exterior changes are so subtle they might just go unnoticed. There’s a far more familial resemblance now, with the fascia in particular looking like the latest 911 or Cayenne models. Finished in premium navy blue paint ($790) that highlighted its wide rear haunches to perfection, the understated presence of this tester was rounded out nicely with expensive five-spoke wheels ($3,370).

Comfort: 8/10

The contrast-coloured leather upholstery ($300) looked nice against this tester’s rich blue paint, but the driver’s seat was quick to cause discomfort during testing. Despite plenty of adjustability – 14-way power, thanks to the Premium Plus package ($5,770) – the flat and firm lower cushion led to some upper-leg pain after only a couple hours behind the wheel.

Features: 9/10

With the Premium Plus pack, the front seats are both heated and ventilated, while the rear seats and steering wheel are both heated. It also includes an upgraded stereo and a panoramic sunroof.

This being a Porsche, the only limit placed on its options is a financial one, with a near-endless list of upgrades available. Air suspension, sport exhaust, Sport Chrono package, an even more robust audio system – Porsche will even paint-to-sample virtually any item for an extra dose of personalization for an extra $13,050. The flipside is that features like a wireless charger aren’t standard in spite of the Macan’s $60,000 starting price.

Safety: 6/10

Likewise, advanced safety items are almost exclusively available through the options list. While this tester featured blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning, as well as a self-parking system ($440), there was no lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, or automatic emergency braking – the latter two of which should be standard.

Value: 7/10

That the base Macan manages to feel as sporty as performance entries like the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, Audi SQ5, and BMW X3 M40i should really be factored into its cost-benefit analysis, although so must its somewhat underpowered engine that’s much more similar to the standard versions of those rivals. (Case in point: without the Sport Chrono package, the Macan’s claimed zero-to-100-km/h time is a couple tenths of a second slower than the Mercedes GLC 300.)

Starting at $58,500, plus a $1,500 freight charge, the entry-level Macan splits the difference between, say, the GLC 300 ($51,600) and the GLC 43 ($69,600). Audi’s entries are a little cheaper, while BMW’s are more expensive. In terms of this tester, options pushed the pre-tax price to $73,000.

The Verdict

There are plenty of good reasons to be excited for the all-electric model that’s on its way, but those feeling apprehensive – or impatient – will find in the 2022 Porsche Macan a small sport utility that can still hold its own after some eight years on the market. While it suffers something of an identity crisis under the hood, the rest of the performance package is unquestionably among the best around. In general, complaints about the touch controls or the infotainment system are fairly minor, and if driving enjoyment is a priority, the Macan delivers in a way not many others like it can match.

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 2.0L   Model Tested 2022 Porsche Macan
Engine Cylinders Turbo I4   Base Price $58,500
Peak Horsepower 260 hp @ 5,000–6,500 rpm   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 295 lb-ft @ 1,800–4,500 rpm   Destination Fee $1,500
Fuel Economy 12.4 / 9.3 / 11.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $73,100
Cargo Space 488 / 1,503 L seats up/down  
Optional Equipment
$13,000 – Premium Plus Package, $5,770; Satin Platinum Macan Sport Wheels, $3,370; Surround-View Monitor, $1,360; Gentian Blue Metallic Paint, $790; Porsche Crest Embossed on Front Headrests, $660; Self-Parking System, $440; Power Steering Plus, $310; Leather Interior in Black and Mojave Beige, $300