The Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package is ideal for family men who yearn for a sports car

SINGAPORE (Dec 18): Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are one of the fastest-growing car sectors and all the major brands are getting into the act. Only time will tell whether the entry of luxury brands such as Bentley, Lamborghini, Maserati and Jaguar will pay off.

These brands are jumping on a bandwagon that already features some very strong marques, including Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche. To give you a quick history lesson, the Macan followed the hugely successful Cayenne as Porsche’s foray into SUVs. Macan, the smaller sibling, has already sold more than 200,000 of its “compact all-terrain sports car”, as Porsche labels it. Total sales of Porsche’s SUVs (Macans and Cayennes) have reached almost a million. So, the company must be doing something right in this competitive segment.

Since launching the Macan in 2014, Porsche has been playing around with different variants, making them sportier each time. The 3.6L-engine Macan turbo sat at the top of the pile as the most powerful and fastest version.

Then, in 2015, came the Macan GTS, which could do the century sprint (0 to 100kph) in 5.2 seconds. Now, we have the Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package, which I recently test-drove. It has a longer name and also an extra 40bhp compared with the Turbo, increasing it to a blistering 440bhp. But it is not just the engine that has been given a boost.

There is a newly developed brake system, sports chassis and sports exhaust system — which are all standard fittings. The Sport Chrono package allows ­drivers to ramp up the Macan even further to Sport Plus mode. This tweaks the chassis, engine and transmission to make the car punchier and noisy, allowing the engine to growl like a big cat on the hunt.

Once you start up this beast, it is hard to imagine that it is an SUV. But then again, the abbreviation does stand for sport utility vehicle, and the Macan definitely puts the “sport” in “SUV”, shifting from 0 to 100kph in just 4.4 seconds. This is very similar to the performance of Porsche’s 718 Cayman S, making you think again about the speed and power of its SUVs.

In fact, the Macan and Cayenne are ideal cars for family men who would love a sports car (typically the Porsche 911), but cannot justify it with the kids in tow. Porsche SUVs give you all the space the ­family needs, but with the power and speed of a sports car. For any dad pining for his bachelor days, the Macan is a ray of light. But should the Macan’s sportiness get too intense for you, dial the driving mode down from Sport Plus to Normal.

As middle-aged men like me mature, we start to appreciate the interiors of cars as much as the exterior. We like creature comforts, luxury and a healthy dollop of technology, but nothing overwhelming. Again, the Macan delivered in terms of what I wanted. The BOSE 14-speaker Surround Sound System is joy to the ears, while the plush leather interior keeps you cool and cosy. The cockpit resembles that of a plane’s with plenty of buttons on the centre console and the roof, but you can choose to ignore half of them.

In true Porsche fashion, there is a stopwatch sitting proud on top of the dashboard. The Macan’s infotainment system features a 7in screen, nestled neatly between the air-conditioning vents. This is one of the most elegant interiors I have seen in an SUV, outside of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Cabin space is very generous for a compact crossover such as the Macan, with plenty of legroom for backseat passengers. Boot space is ample as well, with 500L at your disposal, extending to 1,500L when the backseats are folded down.

To highlight the Macan’s sportiness, Porsche organised track days at the Sepang race track in Malaysia to test out the vehicle’s capabilities. This circuit is normally the domain of supercars, sports cars and, of course, F1. To be able to rub shoulders with these speed demons is a reflection of how far Porsche’s SUVs have come.

For me, this pumped-up Porsche allowed me to pick the kids up from school in style, zoom off to impress their friends and pretend I was young again. No longer do you need to rush out and buy a 911 to mark your midlife crisis. A Macan can do the job just as well, and the family can join you too.

PORSCHE MACAN TURBO WITH PERFORMANCE PACKAGE

$420,688 without COE

Engine: 3,604cc, 24V, V6, twin-turbo

Power/torque: 440bhp/600Nm

Fuel efficiency: 9.7L/100km

0-100kph: 4.4 seconds

Top speed: 272kph


Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast