|Porsche Cars North America photo|
Who ever imagined the day would come when Porsche would offer not one, but two sport utility vehicles? Even more, who imagined they would be the sales anchor that allowed the continued existence of the lower volume sports cars?
The Porsche Cayenne has been with us since 2004 and is on the verge of its third model version. The Macan is a youngster, still on its first iteration since the initial launch in 2015, with an update on the way this fall. I have owned both, and keep getting this question, "which Porsche SUV do you prefer?" Here's my answer.
There have been a lot of SUVs in my car life. I first had an '89 Jeep Cherokee, before these versatile vehicles even had a name. I loved that little truck. With a five-speed manual transmission and no power windows or locks it only weighed about 3300lbs, and was a hoot to drive in snow or dirt. I also got used to the space and bad weather confidence SUVs provide. Since then I've had Grand Cherokees, Explorers, a Mazda Tribute, an X3 and an Acura MDX. Most of them were good vehicles, though a bit boring. Well, maybe the X3 was kinda fun to drive. Kinda.
Then I bought a CPO 2012 Cayenne V6. Writing about my impressions of the Cayenne last year I said,
"This car is comfortable, reliable, and attractive. And it doesn’t suffer from the ponderous luxobarge look that so many of its competitors have (looking at you MDX). The 14 way heated and cooled seats are fantastic. I get out of the car in DC or Atlanta like I have only driven around the block."Simply put, the Cayenne was perhaps the most complete vehicle I had ever owned. While it was certainly no sports car, most people don't need that performance every day. Whether driving to work or driving to Atlanta, the Cayenne was always the perfect choice. Darned thing even got decent gas mileage at around 24-25 mpg on the highway.
But all good things must come to an end. Last spring the Cayenne was closing in on 100K and my thoughts turned to the next SUV. The lovely Colleen and I spotted a CPO Macan S at our local dealership. I liked it immediately, and she loved it. I believe her specific comment was, "It looks so badass!" It also sounded badass. And so the deal was done, and we've now lived with the Macan for almost six months.
|Colleen rolls away with her new (CPO) Macan S|
First, for the purpose of comparing apples to apples, this discussion applies specifically to the Cayenne V6 and the Macan S, partly because that's what I've owned, and partly because they are roughly the same price when similarly equipped. What about the four cylinder Macan you ask? I've driven one or two as loaners and they are fine vehicles. But to be honest, I would choose a low-mileage CPO Cayenne V6 or Macan S over a Macan, and probably take a long look at the the Audi Q5. No offense to base Macan owners, but I think the redesigned Q5 gets you essentially the same vehicle for less money - potentially a lot less money if you get too happy with the Porsche option list.
So on to the camparison. You don't buy a sport utility vehicle in place of a performance car. Sure, the Macan S, and even maybe a Cayenne S or Turbo won't embarrass itself at a track day. But c'mon man, that's not what these things are for. You don't buy a heavy four door, all wheel-drive vehicle because it really gets around VIR quickly. You buy an SUV because it is practical, comfortable, and reliable. If it is also relatively fast and fun, all the better. Both Porsche SUVs are just that.
Dynamically the Macan S is clearly the superior driver's machine. The S is just plain fast, for an SUV. It sounds great, and handles much better than the Cayenne. A lower center of gravity, less weight, shorter wheelbase, the PDK gearbox, and more power over the V6 Cayenne all combine to provide a more sporting experience. I think of the Macan S as a sort of BMW 3-series SUV (what the X3 wants to be). That said, even my base Cayenne, in Sport mode, was fast, as fast as a vehicle of that size probably should be. But if performance is your primary goal, get the Macan S.
But let's talk the 'U' in SUV. We moved last winter, and used the Cayenne like a dump truck. It hauled all kinds of stuff, really showing its versatility. The Cayenne provides 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space and 63 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. The Macan provides 17.7 and 52 cubic feet respectively.
|This is easy - the Cayenne has a lot more usable space.|
Simply put, the Macan is not nearly as utilitarian. John Stuart Mill would choose the Cayenne, and if you have children or carry stuff around much, you probably should too. And the Cayenne's larger size has other advantages. Rear seat passengers survive in the Macan, as long as the people in the front seat aren't too tall. The Cayenne's rear seats are much more spacious. On longer trips the bigger Porsche is a more comfortable ride too. Probably a combination of hip/elbow room and a longer wheelbase. Finally, I haven't found the smaller Macan to be significantly easier to park either. Both vehicles are fine maneuvering through the urban jungle.
And here's a bit of a surprise: I found that the Cayenne actually gets slightly better gas mileage. Both are rated at 23 mpg on the highway. Despite that, in my experience, particularly on the highway, the Macan S is down a couple of MPG on average. Maybe its the eight speed Tiptronic vs. the seven speed PDK, or maybe the Macan S just begs to be driven harder.
So far the Macan has been road bound. But I drove the Cayenne on the beach, on some steep, washed out mountain roads, and in as much snow as you'll find here in North Carolina. It was always sure-footed and stable. The hill descent control works great too. My guess is that the Cayenne is somewhat better in these circumstances. Time will tell.
In summation... if the kids are gone, and the dogs are getting smaller, and you hire moving companies... the Macan S, GTS, or Turbo may be just the ticket. If I had to choose (and I did), I'd go with the little Porsche SUV.
So that's my Cayenne v. Macan answer. Get the Macan, unless you need the Cayenne.