Expert Reviews

First Drive: 2019 Porsche Macan S

To say SUVs and crossovers are a big deal to Porsche would be an epic understatement. The argument with brand purists will never end, but ever since the introduction of the Cayenne, it (and now the Macan) have been Porsche’s best sellers – by a significant margin. One can pooh-pooh this and say it’s the end of an era until they’re red in the face, but nobody can deny that the revenues from these vehicles make a huge difference in Porsche’s bottom line, and thus, enable the brand to continue funding research, development and race programs.

Inspires confidence, ever more so as you pick up speed.

We were in Newfoundland to drive Porsche’s 2019 Macan S. It is obviously an important model for Porsche – it was Porsche’s best-selling model in 2017 and 2018 – worldwide, they have moved over 350,000 Macans in four years. Here in Canada, Porsche has sold 14,937 of them. Last year, 3,960 Macans sailed out of Canadian dealerships, out of a total of 8,904 units for the brand. So yes, this little crossover matters a lot.

The 2019 isn’t all-new but rather introduces some mid-lifecycle changes from 2018 and previous years. Some are instantly noticeable, some are not, and some are hidden under the skin.


Up front, the Macan sports a new fascia and there are new wheel options, sized up to 21 inches. The RS Spyder Design wheels in particular are fantastic – but they also add over $5,000 to the vehicle’s price. LED headlights are now standard on the Macan S and it gets a new full-width LED taillight bar. It not only looks great but enhances the muscular flanks and makes the Macan’s broad-shouldered rear end look even more burly and sporty. There are also four new colours to choose from.

As you would expect, the Macan interior is endowed with world-class materials and detailing, combined with stellar fit and finish. The seats are delightfully comfortable and well bolstered, and the Bose sound system is excellent. I loved the optional heated GT Sport steering wheel and would say it is worth every dime – in my opinion, it borders on perfection for driving control and comfort and it’s a looker too – check out the metal insert details. A huge panoramic roof with a powered sunshade really opens up the interior and makes for a bright, airy space for all passengers.

Features & Practicality

Porsche stuck with the sea-of-buttons centre console – yes, it’s virtually impossible to use without looking away from the road. But everything from the top of the console up is new. Front and centre is the new 10.9-inch PCM touchscreen. It’s gorgeous and I found it to be incredibly fast and responsive. It is connected and networked, providing online navigation and real-time traffic updates, as well as a wealth of other connectivity options.

Rear seat space remains the same – I found adequate legroom and headroom for me at 5'10" (about an inch to spare both ways). Rear passengers get their own climate control toggle and adjustable air vents as well as two USB ports. The middle position straddles a large tunnel and would be uncomfortable for any size of human.

The Macan’s trunk is a reasonable size and is accessed via a power liftgate. An interesting feature that comes with the adaptive suspension – there are buttons inside the trunk to lower and raise the rear end by about an inch to assist with loading. I’m not sure how valuable that is but it’s there.

Under the Hood

Here lurks an all-new engine – it’s still a 3.0L turbo V6 but Porsche replaced the twin turbos with a single one nestled between the two cylinder banks. It puts out 348 hp and 352 lb-ft of torque – up from 340 hp and 339 lb-ft in the previous model.

The Macan S elicits a raucous bark with ignition and the V6 trumpets out a delightful howl under throttle. The soundtrack is significantly enhanced with the optional sport exhaust system – it was a blast to hear it reverberating off the cliff walls as we bombed through Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park.

It is an incredibly diverse slice of Canada, offering up landscapes that alternate between beaches and bogs, forests and cliffs, fjords and the barren otherworldly Tablelands – the only place on earth where you can see and walk on the earth’s mantle, which is normally found deep under the crust but was forced up here from the depths during a plate collision several hundred million years ago. Oh, and there are those stunning coastal roads with sweeping vistas of the sea – the perfect place to test the Macan’s road manners.

The Drive

I found the new engine to be very responsive off the line, providing a delicious amount of torque from the get-go. Put down the hammer off the line and the Macan S streaks to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds. The seven-speed PDK carries over and remains one of the best transmissions in the world – it is fast, smooth, and almost clairvoyant, knowing exactly which gear to be in.

The Macan suspension, for the most part, carries over. There are a few minor changes – some steel parts have been replaced by aluminum to save unsprung weight and the sway bars have been retuned. The vehicle I drove was equipped with the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and I felt it rode even better than the last Macan. It is at once firm, smooth, and supple, soaking up the biggest dips and choppiest surfaces with nary a complaint while remaining completely controlled. Of course, the Macan’s sports-car handling is one of its key selling points. The steering is beautifully weighted, turn-in is sharp, and the Macan stays flat and corners like a champ. Carving through the undulating passes in the rugged Newfoundland back country – often wet and featuring frequent altitude changes – the Macan’s not-insignificant weight was noticeable but the all-wheel drive system clung tenaciously to the tarmac and the updated brakes were incredibly responsive, powerful, and fade-free. The overall package inspires confidence, ever more so as you pick up speed.

The Verdict

If you’re after a luxurious, sporty compact crossover that offers sport car driving dynamics, the Macan S is one of the best options on the market.

For now, only the base four-cylinder Macan and the Macan S are available. Although Porsche Canada did not commit to additional trim levels, I predict you can count on future GTS and Turbo trims to rejoin the line.

Pricing and Availability

Prices for the 2019 Macan S start at $63,000. As one would expect, you can easily price your Macan S well into the $90,000s with all the familiar option packages, standalone goodies, and aesthetic enhancements – and some new ones like the cabin air ionizer and adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist. The 2019 Macan is available immediately as they are starting to arrive at dealerships now.