Sporting brand’s best-seller has been recreated from scratch as its second EV. We got an early drive
Welcome to the next step in Porsche’s plan for an all-electric future: the second-generation Porsche Macan.
Developed in tandem with the recently previewed Audi Q6 E-tron on the Volkswagen Group’s new 800V Premium Platform Electric, this SUV will be the second fully electric Porsche model after the Porsche Taycan saloon/estate – and before production begins in Leipzig at the end of the year, we were invited to try it in prototype guise in the US.
This comes after a delay to the new BMW iX3 and Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV rival, as extra time was needed to develop the power electronics – the network of systems that controls its new drivetrain and various ancillaries, plus the new E3 software platform used for the infotainment, driver assistance and other functions.
“The complexity and networking of the software is a key issue in every electric vehicle. We wanted to ensure that everything was to the latest development standard before placing cars in the hands of customers,” explains Macan development chief Robert Meier.
The old petrol-engined and new electric Macans are planned to be sold alongside each other in all of Porsche’s existing markets. Yet despite sharing a model name, each features its own design.
As evident beneath the disguise worn by the prototypes we drove, the EV has a distinct front end with split headlights and styling similar to that seen on the Taycan, larger wheelhouses and new frameless doors. The rear adopts a more liftback-style tailgate for a sleeker silhouette than the petrol Macan, as well as a sizeable spoiler that deploys in four stages. And there are new wheel designs, ranging from a standard 19in up to 22in.
We can’t tell you much about the interior just yet, but it too differs from that of the existing Macan. The dashboard design isn’t far removed from that recently brought to the facelifted Cayenne, with separate digital instrument and infotainment displays and a dashboard-mounted gear selector.
You sit lower than in the petrol Macan in the front. That more heavily curved roof also means there’s slightly less rear head room and boot space as well.
It’s also too early to talk about the specification, but Meier does confirm the electric Macan will receive an expansive glass roof in selected markets.
As with the Taycan, Porsche is planning a full range of single-motor, rear-wheel-drive and dual-motor, four-wheel-drive Macans. Each will receive a battery with a capacity of around 100kWh and a range of at least 311 miles.The nickel-manganese-cobalt pack can be charged at rates of up to 270kW by a DC charger – sufficient to provide it with a claimed 62 miles of range in just four minutes under optimal charging conditions.
Unlike the Taycan, which uses two-speed reduction gearing, the Macan has a conventional single-speed unit at each end.
It’s the top-of-the-line Macan we’re in here, expected to be called the Turbo. Its two permanent magnet synchronous motors develop in combination more than 603bhp and more than 738lb ft of torque, giving it great pace (0-62mph is claimed to take less than 4.4sec) and urgency despite a kerb weight that, while yet to be made official, is set to be substantially above that of any petrol Macan.
By comparison, the turbocharged 2.9-litre V6-powered Macan GTS makes 435bhp and 406lb ft and is claimed to hit 62mph in 4.5sec. Its top speed is also greater, 169mph rather than 155mph. The most powerful of Audi’s new Q6 E-tron models, the SQ6, has a similar dual-motor, four-wheel-drive drivetrain but with a good deal less power and torque, at 510bhp and 605lb ft.
The accelerative ability is quite impressive – and it’s reproducible without any noticeable reduction in reserves after three or four full-throttle acceleration runs. There’s superb smoothness and refinement about the motors, too.
It’s the handling precision and overall breadth of the dynamics that really got my attention the first time out in the new Macan, though. Meier says a lot of effort has gone into ensuring its characteristics have a genuine Porsche feel, and indeed it’s terrifically fluent by EV standards, with a defined rear-biased apportioning of power and an ability to make quick changes of direction with loads of confidence-inspiring grip at both ends – even though our test cars were wearing all-terrain tyres. (Aiding this agility on the Turbo is a rear-wheel steering system.)
The steering is very precise and weightier than that of the SQ6 E-tron, which we recently drove in prototype form. The Porsche Active Suspension Management system that will come as standard on the Macan Turbo gets air springs and new twin-valve dampers, providing outstanding body control and self-levelling. There’s a firmness to the ride and some excessive road roar at times. However, it takes care of pockmarked and broken bitumen with deft control, rarely requiring more than a single cycle of compression and rebound to dissipate road shock. (Note, though, that lower-grade Macans will ride on less sophisticated steel suspension.)
Further praise should be heaped on the brakes. They deliver lots of feel by EV standards, blending in the recuperation functions well without resorting to a decoupling of drive to the front axle, as some do.
“We don’t talk about one-pedal driving at Porsche; we talk about one-pedal braking instead,” says Meier, in reference to many EVs’ heavy use of regenerative braking.
What becomes really noticeable the more we drive the Macan is that it provides a different driving experience to its Audi sibling. It’s more sporting in character, if perhaps a little less cosseting, too.
We will, of course, need time in production examples and pricing details before we can truly judge, but our impressions so far are very favourable – as Porsche believes they will be among customers, predicting that the Macan will take the majority of the firm’s EV sales during the second half of the decade.
Porsche Macan turbo Prototype
Price: £90,000 (est), Motors: Two permanent magnet synchronous motors, Power: More than 603bhp, Torque: More than 738lb ft, Gearbox: 1-spd reduction gear, 4WD, Kerbweight: 2200kg (est), 0-62mph: 4.4sec, Top speed: 155mph, Battery: lithium-ion,100kWh (total), Economy, Range: 3.2mpkWh (est), 311 miles, Rivals: Audi SQ6 E-tron, BMW iX3