It’s no secret that Porsche sells more SUVs than it does sports cars.
Yet flinging this 2023 Macan T down a winding road might have you wondering if this compact SUV is, in fact, the former – albeit a tall one. But what is it, anyway?
In Porsche parlance, the letter T designates a lighter, sportier version of a base trim that’s been optioned with goodies to make it more engaging for the enthusiast driver. Think of it as a performance value proposition, of sorts. And in this case, it’s a fairly convincing one.
The Macan’s smooth-edged design is aging well; it’s tidy, bereft of excess, and carries plenty of those curvy Porsche cues. The new-for-2023 Macan T gets its own treatment – Agate Grey Metallic accents on the front splitter, mirrors, and side blades with Macan T logos, a roof spoiler, and black exhaust tips. It also rolls on 20-inch wheels from the Macan S.
This tester sports a few extras like the handsome satin-platinum wheels ($690), SportDesign side skirts ($1,750), and a coat of paint-to-sample Speed Yellow that costs a whopping $13,050. Speed Yellow is a classic Porsche hue from days gone by, with that bit of nostalgia adding about 25 per cent of the base cost of this crossover. Yikes. Even so, there’s no arguing the Macan T looks especially cheerful in this hue. (Hold the Tweety Bird jokes, please.)
The Macan T’s standard safety features include steering-responsive LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, and parking sensors front and rear. Optional assist systems include self parking ($440), lane change assist ($790), surround-view monitoring ($1,360), and lane-keeping assist ($910).
Compared to its main rivals, the compact Macan falls short when it comes to cargo capacity and rear-seat space. Behind the second row you’ll find 488 L of storage room, and that is hampered by the sloping roofline. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear bench can be stowed to open up 1,530 L of capacity with a flat load floor. It’s rated to tow up to 2,000 kg (4,409 lb), and with the standard roof rails, there’s space for more stuff up top.
Front cabin storage includes a modestly sized covered cubby under the central armrest, and door pockets with molded bottle holders. The centre console has a couple of cup holders and a small tray that will hold a cellphone or pair of sunglasses.
The Macan has been around for almost 10 years, and as such it retains an older-gen Porsche dash layout, hence the gauge cluster with a large central analogue tachometer, an analogue speedometer to the left, and a digital info display on the right. Toggle controls for temp and fan speed, volume and tuning knobs, plus a classic mechanical P-R-N-D gear selector is found on the centre console.
The haptic panel on the console works nicely, with well illuminated touchpoints for features like seat heat, HVAC mode, and dynamic settings (adaptive suspension, sport exhaust, ride height, etc.). There’s a built-in twist key to the left of the steering column for that classic Porsche start-up. The 10.9-inch central touchscreen interface is lightning fast in its responses and the menu structure is easy to navigate, although the icons are quite small. As the Sport Chrono package is standard with the Macan T, there’s also a nifty rotary drive mode selector on the steering wheel that makes calling up sport and sport+ settings a breeze.
The standard interface includes wireless Apple CarPlay, but Android Auto is not supported. This tester was fitted with the base 10-speaker stereo, which sounds surprisingly good. Audio upgrades are also available.
The Macan T gets specific eight-way sport seats with striped fabric inserts and the Porsche crest on the headrests. It also comes fitted with standard adaptive damping and tweaked stability control and all-wheel drive for sportier responses. Adding to that, this tester was fitted with optional air suspension ($1,590) and torque vectoring plus ($1,700). Another sporty addition to this T was the $2,260 sport exhaust system that gives the little motor some extra bark.
Doing duty here is the familiar 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 261 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque – the same as the base model. It’s hooked to Porsche’s excellent seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
This is a sweet little mill that operates with linearity and smoothness, and while the Macan T is no rocket, there’s an eager midrange urge that gives it a decent shove when in the boost. Any way you slice it, the four-cylinder model is a joy on the road and all the Macan most will ever need. When in sport mode the fun factor ramps up with sharpened throttle response and more alert shift mapping. Activating launch control is a cinch – simply dial up sport+, and hold the brake pedal while pressing the throttle firmly to the floor. The engine revs hover around 2,500 rpm. Release the brake pedal and the T will get you to 100 km/h in a tick under six seconds.
The base eight-way power buckets in the T with their fabric inserts are supremely comfortable and supportive. The back seats are best suited for two smaller folks or children. Or maybe three of the seven dwarfs. But they’ll all be grumpy.
The Macan T’s ride quality with the optional air suspension is impressive. While this is arguably the best handling compact crossover money can buy, in normal mode the ride is firm but never harsh, and body control is excellent – no undue pitching or side-to-side head toss when encountering road imperfections. At cruising speeds the cabin is impressively quiet. This Porsche’s sense of vault-like solidity permeates its every move, imparting a sense of security and refinement.
Driving Feel: 9.5/10
Within the first few metres of driving the Macan T, it speaks the unmistakable language of Porsche. The natural-feeling helm directs the buttoned-down chassis with nary a hint of slack, slop, or question. With your butt hugged by the sport seats and your hands on the well contoured wheel, the T feels ready for anything.
Tuck into a bend and it carves a precision path, aided by the staggered Michelin performance rubber (295/40R20 rear, 265/45R20 front). There’s a lot of grip here. Flick the metal shift paddles and the clever transmission swaps cogs instantly. Yes, the turbocharged V6 Macan models are considerably quicker, but they lack the lightness-of-being you’ll find with a four-cylinder like this one. Here, the new-for-2023 Macan T takes the attributes of the lighter base model and expands on them with the trick suspension upgrades.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
The turbo four-cylinder is a reasonably economical unit, and highway jaunts should net consumption just below 9.0 L/100 km with a light right foot. Official fuel consumption numbers for the four-cylinder Macan are 12.4 in the city city, 9.3 on the highway, and 11.0 combined. My week ended up at 11.5 L/100 km of the requisite premium-grade gas.
In Porsche-world, the 2023 Macan T’s starting price of $66,200 seems like a decent deal. However, that number is jumping to $70,600 for 2024. As the base 2024 Macan now bows at $65,200, all the T goodies come at a $5,400 premium. And Porsche being Porsche, a sprinkling of expensive options is unavoidable. You’ll find less expensive premium performance turbo-four compact crossovers, but none will drive like this.
Since its 2014 introduction, the Macan compact crossover has been a runaway hit for Porsche. Not only is it currently the best-selling Porsche in Canada, but 60 per cent of Macan buyers are new to the brand. This new 2023 Porsche Macan T variant, which slots in between the base model and the six-cylinder S, is a mighty compelling offering, serving up a driving experience that will keep you smiling. If outright speed is not your goal, the Macan T hits the sweet spot.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||261 hp @ 6,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||295 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||12.4 / 9.3 / 11.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||488 / 1530 L seats down|
|Model Tested||2023 Porsche Macan T|
|Price as Tested||$92,650|
$24,600 – Paint to Sample, $13,050; Sport Exhaust, $2,260; Adaptive Air Suspension, $1,590; Torque Vectoring Plus, $1,700; painted lower rear fascia, $480; front fascia painted body colour, $480; Exclusive Design fuel cap, $190; heated seats (front and rear), $660; 20-inch Macan Sport Wheels in Satin Platinum, $690; Carbon interior trim, $1,750; SportDesign sideskirts, $1,750