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First drive review: 2022 Porsche Macan and Macan S emphasize the drive

There’s no point fussing about: if you want the best driving small luxury SUV full-stop, then you’re buying a Porsche Macan. 

Dynamically, it’s the most satisfying vehicle to drive in this segment, and a day spent in Los Angeles testing out the refreshed 2022 Macan and Macan S revealed a pair of vehicles that emphasize fun behind the wheel. It’s the rest of the package that has some foibles.

The Macan’s refresh for 2022 is minor as to be expected, with the all-electric, redesigned Macan on the horizon and set to arrive in 2023. Wheels have gone up an inch in size on all three of the Macan’s trim levels (Macan, Macan S, and Macan GTS). There are very subtle exterior tweaks like some new 3D-textured elements on the front and the side blades, a larger rear diffuser, and more body-colored trim pieces up front. 

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

Inside, the center console has been updated with haptic touch elements, similar to what you’ll find in the larger Cayenne or the Panamera. And just like in those cars, it’s a fingerprint magnet.  A large 10.9-inch multimedia touchscreen is still standard, and wireless Apple CarPlay has been added. The system still runs the older version of Porsche’s software (PCM 5.0 instead of 6.0), which means that Android users like myself remain out of luck. Other new standard features include keyless entry, heated front seats, and auto dimming interior and exterior mirrors.

There has been a small bump up in power for each model as well. The Macan’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder makes 261 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, a bump of 13 hp and 22 lb-ft over last year’s model. In the Macan S, its 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 sees jumps of 27 hp and 29 lb-ft, up to 375 hp and 383 lb-ft respectively. Both come with standard all-wheel drive and a 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission standard. 

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

Driving the two models in such proximity highlighted the Macan S. That extra 114 hp transforms the experience, making the Macan feel sluggish in comparison. PDK is excellent and tries its best to keep the Macan in its powerband while in Sport mode, but the four-cylinder just doesn’t have enough guts. You’ll find yourself wanting more acceleration to match the vehicle’s super balance.

Though the Macan S also lacks some power in the low revs, it doesn’t really start to sing until around 4,000 rpm, when it does get into its sweet spot it takes off with a more satisfying kick and a much more pleasing soundtrack as well. It’s a full 1.4 seconds faster from 0-60 mph (4.4 vs. 5.8 seconds) and you feel it on the road.

Despite the power difference, both vehicles excelled in handling and balance. An adaptive suspension is standard on the Macan S, but was also equipped on the Macan I tested as well and it does a superb job of mitigating body roll. This allows the Macan to remain well sorted, even in a succession of quick turns that would normally upset an SUV that didn’t control its weight as well.

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

What the competitors do offer more of, is practicality. Yes, the Macan is roughly the same size as so many other compact SUVs, but it feels small inside. I can’t actually fit behind myself with the driver’s seat setup where I drive and I’m not even that tall at 5’11. It would be a very tight squeeze to fit a rear-facing child seat back there, without forcing the front seat passenger to jam their own knees under the dashboard. Vertically, there’s plenty of headroom (especially with the optional panoramic sunroof installed) so the cabin doesn’t feel too cramped visually, but your legs will disagree.

The final sticking point for the Macan will be pricing. The Macan starts at $56,250 and the Macan S at $66,750, increases of $2,800 for the base model and $5,200 for the Macan S respectively. But as with all Porsches, start to add options and the price skyrockets. My test vehicles for the day ran $85,340 for the Macan and $103,600 for the Macan S, eye watering totals. That included 29 individual or option packages with added cost piled onto the Macan and 27 such additions to the Macan S.

2022 Porsche Macan

2022 Porsche Macan

The Macan’s updates make it a little sharper and more fun to drive, which further cements its place as the performance leader. And if the more practical (or price) considerations don’t matter as much, then it makes an excellent dance partner for those shopping in this class. But if you have a small family, it may be wise to turn elsewhere and find something a little bigger—and, unfortunately, a lot less fun.

Both the 2022 Macan and Macan S go on sale in January 2022.

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