Subtlety is not my Porsche Macan Turbo’s strong suit. In fact, it feels rather out of place. I’ve driven it to the Goodwood Members’ Meeting, a rather exclusive affair in England reserved for historic car owners, experienced racers and the tiny handful of civilians who manage to get their hands on tickets.
The throngs that come to Lord March’s more high-profile Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival aren’t to be found. The limited numbers here today are allowed to roam around the paddocks, kick the tyres and strike up conversation with four-wheel celebs such as Mika Häkkinen and Dario Franchitti. Many are among the world’s most esteemed collectors and automotive aristocracy.
So here I am, dressed head to toe in tweed, climbing out of a shiny new Porsche SUV that looks like the ultimate drug dealer’s ride. I’ve given it a nickname: Layer Cake. It reminds me of the bright yellow Range Rover from the 2004 film, the one with the idiotic owners. Like, if you’re going to bring boxes of class-As back from Holland, maybe don’t do it in a car the colour of a citrus fruit.
But there’s nothing idiotic about the Macan Turbo. It is a highly intelligent, refined and capable beast not to be underestimated. It also makes perfect sense. Purists will tell you a Porsche should have two doors and an air-cooled engine in the boot. Yet the success of the Panamera and Cayenne prove they are heavily outnumbered.
Indeed, the Macan has established itself as Porsche’s best-selling car, and second-hand values are up as much as 25 per cent over new, with impatient punters trying to jump the waiting list.
So it is an incredibly desirable car, but is it a blue-blooded Porsche?
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Arguably the biggest draws at Goodwood are the Le Mans prototypes, and the sight of a long line of 1970s wedge-shaped hell-raisers waiting to take to the track makes one’s knees buckle. Dozens of Porsche 917s—the most iconic car of the period—in a variety of heart-pounding paint jobs, from Martini’s white, red and dark blue stripes to Gulf’s light blue and orange.
For race fans of a certain age, this car is possessed by the spirit of the Hollywood star Steve McQueen, who was seen racing one in his 1971 movie Le Mans. McQueen’s picture hangs in some of the garages and autojumble stores around the track. The late actor is a patron saint for amateur drivers striving to live out their childhood fantasies.
Can I picture Steve steering his way around southern California in a tall-bodied Porsche? That would take a lot of imagination. The Porsches, Jaguars, Mustangs and Lotuses McQueen loved were all elegant, simple, lightweight, focused cars, and the Macan isn’t really any of those. Instead it’s designed for people who want it all, a 4WD utility sports car that can handle anything that’s thrown at it. In this respect it’s one of the most capable cars I’ve ever driven.
After the prize-giving at Goodwood I chauffeured some Rolls-Royce engineers to the pub. Professionally sensitive to the slightest bump in the road, throttle jolt or turbo lag, they confirmed my assessment that this car has incredible ride and power delivery. Being fed through roundabouts and along twisty B roads at speed, the car was utterly composed and the 400 horses as tame as those on a merry-go-round.
This is thanks to my Macan boasting an optional torque vectoring system that is supercar quality. Put the hammer down to overtake and your obstacle is in the rear view mirror within a single tick of the indicator. Yet if your passenger were to be holding a brimming cocktail glass, there would be no spillage, at least not till you hit the brakes.
This car has ceramic composite anchors, which are a HK$77,000 option. For a two-tonne car, its stopping ability is eye-watering. The standard Turbo weighs in at HK$1.328 million, but with the options fitted mine costs HK$1.9 million. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, given the engine and everything that harnesses it to the road.
The 3.6-litre V6 is so efficient, powerful and torquey. My car, fitted with an optional performance package, can hit 100km/h in 4.6 seconds. That’s just a tad slower than the Aston Martin DB9 GT and the Bentley Continental W12. I am getting around 9.5 litres per 100km of cruising on the motorway and 14 litres on country lanes. The noise is muffled but audible, a sneeze from the exhaust as the seven-speed PDK transmission upshifts followed by a turbo whine like that of a kitten that’s hurt its leg.
The cabin is ergonomic and familiar to Porsche users, the main instrument panel up high and a rank of buttons steeply raked all the way down to the arm rest. My ride has red leather—red on red—suggesting it was specced by Iceberg Slim.
The metallic Impulse Red exterior looks almost pink in low light but much more vivid and racy under the sun. I have grey 533mm five-spoke sports wheels, wrapped in chunky 295/35 rubber, which enclose massive yellow brake callipers. In a field in West Sussex it looks outré, but in Yas Marina, Ibiza and Aspen it’d look the berries.
It is unashamedly nouveau. But if you want a mid-size SUV with the performance to embarrass an F-Type Jag, then look no further.
At A Glance: Porsche Macan Turbo 2017
Engine: 3.6-litre turbocharged V6
Torque: 550 Nm (406 lb/ft)
Transmission: 7-speed PDK
Acceleration: 0-100km/h 4.8 seconds
Top Speed: 266km/h
Read the full story in the June issue of Hong Kong Tatler.
See also: The Rolls-Royce For The Next Generation
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