While we were in Los Angeles, we were lucky enough to be chauffeured around by my friend Ray in his Porsche Macan S. I also got the chance to drive it from Palm Springs to L.A., normally a two-hour journey that actually stretched into almost double that due to a weird Saturday night traffic jam.
This was my first time driving any Porsche SUV, but I have driven larger vehicles by BMW and Mercedes. Generally speaking, I prefer sedans to SUV’s, and have always wondered why someone who needs a four-door doesn’t just buy some kind of BMW sedan. They do come in all sizes and, at least until recently, could be purchased with a manual transmission. Ray himself has owned a slew of cool sedans, including an M5, an M6 Gran Coupe and two Panameras. Why, then, would Ray (or anyone, for that matter), buy a small SUV? Over the course of our 8-day trip, I found out the answer to that question. The short answer Ray would give to the question is simple enough: the Macan is much shorter and easier to manage than a large German sedan, the visibility is excellent, a must when dealing with L.A.’s unpredictable highway traffic jams, and the Macan performs almost exactly like a nice German sedan.
As a frequent passenger in the Macan, I can confirm how nice the interior is. This is no surprise, as Porsche generally gets interiors right. I was able to get comfortable in my seat, whether I was sitting in front or in back. There was more rear leg room than most small-to-medium sedans I have been in. I was initially surprised at the layout of the controls, as most of them are on the console near the shifter, and not actually on the dash. However, one gets used to this easily enough. One pleasant surprise was how much space there was in the trunk. The way the rear of the car stretches out creates a deep space (reminiscent of a 1990 Saab 900 I used to own) where we piled all sorts of things. It even served as a changing table for our 1-year-old on more than one occasion. I was really impressed with the trunk space, when you consider the overall compact size of the vehicle and the good legroom available front and rear.
How does the Macan drive? The acceleration, as with many modern turbo engines, was really impressive. There is a lot of power available, all the time. The car just goes when you ask it to. As for the handling, I noticed that Ray barely slowed down for many off-ramps, and the Macan just took it. When I tried the same maneuver, I realized how confidence-inspiring the handling was. The combination of all-wheel-drive and real summer tires (in quite a large size) easily overcomes any concerns one might have about a slightly higher center of gravity. At road speeds, the Macan just felt like a well-sorted sedan with a higher seating position. The Macan also dealt with bumpy roads remarkably well and soaked up all but the worst road imperfections without becoming unsettled in the least.
So basically, although I would prefer to be driving around in my older BMW coupe, I can now fully understand why someone would buy a Macan, especially in L.A. It has the space, practicality and driving position of a small SUV with most of the qualities of a German sport sedan. What’s not to love?