Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: September 13, 2023
T stands for Touring and in the Porsche vocabulary, that typically equates to a lightweight, pure, and distilled driving experience. Think Porsche 911 Carrera T or 718 Cayman T. Except with the Macan T, it means something different.
There’s nothing exactly lightweight about an SUV that weighs as much as a small planet, and Porsche hasn’t really taken any measures to make the Macan T any lighter. It doesn’t use the 375-hp 2.9-litre V6 from the Macan S either but instead keeps with the base engine, a small four-cylinder with the blueprint from a Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Instead, the Macan T is all about offering a more performance-focused base model with many popular features as standard such as four-point LED headlights, exterior elements like the door mirrors, front splitter, and side blades in Agate Grey, 20-inch wheels in Dark Titanium, and on the inside, a Drive Mode dial on the steering wheel, Sport Chrono clock on the dashboard with a launch control feature, and 8-way front sport seats with Sport-Tex inserts. And no someone didnt just scrub off the “urbo” after the T. It’s a brand new trim for Macan though the list of features exclusive to it is razor-thin.
If you were thinking of buying a base Macan (which accounts for the majority of Macans sold), but wanted a little extra spice to your daily drive, and don’t want to pony up for a Macan S, then the T will suit your needs. It starts at $66,200, about $5,000 more than the base model, though the army of options and customizable features can easily swell that price tag up to the six figures. Our test vehicle was spec’d just the way we liked, with the optional adaptive air suspension that also lowers the car by 10 mm ($1,590), brake-based torque vectoring ($1,700), and sport exhaust system ($2,260).
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 261 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and all-wheel drive is the name of the game, with a 0-100 km/h time of 6.2 seconds. The turbo-four is always up to the task, never feeling underpowered or overpowered, but the cheaper BMW X4 M40i would smoke it in a straight line. Your foot will need to stay pinned on the throttle to keep the Macan lively, and there’s just that little bit of turbo lag and gearbox hesitation when you catch it sleeping in the wrong gear. Otherwise the dual-clutch fires off shifts with the rapid urgency you would expect from a Porsche PDK, and while Sport Mode remaps the throttle and gearing for better response, we didn’t find much use for it as the default settings were spritely enough.
We wouldn’t mind a few extra horses in our Macan but without a heavy V6 up front, the T feels noticeably lighter and more eager to change direction. The torque vectoring system combined with the electronic limited-slip differential further aids in directing torque to the wheel with the most grip, meaning you can get on the throttle incredibly early mid-corner and propel the Macan forward without much fuss or defiance from the tires.
With the sport exhaust switched on, the Macan T makes some decent noises. It’s not as flat-toned as a Golf R but is instead higher in pitch with a hollow resonance to its vocals. The Porsche won’t win any singing contests against the raspy Maserati Grecale Modena or the sweet and silky BMW X3, but downshift hard into the Macan’s limiter and it will let out some mild but thrilling pops and bangs - you will have to roll down your windows to hear them though.
There’s nothing quite like a Porsche steering rack. As the gateway to driver involvement, there’s a solidity and heaviness to the way the wheel rotates. There’s minimal slack yet it feels stable and sharp, and every degree of rotation is directly proportional to the front wheels. Minor vibrations of the road underneath are muted out and only the important rhythmic notes seep through into your fingertips. Few steering racks offer this much involvement and feedback, especially in an SUV. It’s not as light and numb like in the BMW X3, as disconnected and muted as a Range Rover Velar, or ‘is this even plugged in’ in the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 where it’s like driving via a Playstation controller.
But driver engagement doesn’t always mean horsepower or ride quality, but also about making the driver feel special and in control. That boils down to the minor details like the steering wheel. It’s smaller in diameter than most conventional steering wheels but that aids in making the car feel more energetic and lively when changing direction. There is even a dial that buds out from 4 o’clock which you can use to quickly select Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, or Individual Modes. Press the center button and it will trigger Sport Response, which ramps up all systems up to their maximum for 20 seconds. This is useful for highway overtakes or last-minute maneuvers that require all hands on deck.
New for this year is an ‘M’ button on the left spoke, which allows you to quickly select manual shifting instead of slotting the gear shifter to the left like in previous Macans. All these little touchpoints make the mundane drive to work a little more exciting. And we also love how they cleverly hid the heated steering wheel button behind the bottom spoke rather than plaster it front and center in BMWs.
It’s also rare to see analog gauges in a new 2023 model year vehicle, but Porsche has been keeping the needle ticking in the Macan. The drawbacks are clear though: the right side digital display in the instrument cluster is dated with low-res graphics, an alarming contrast to the crisp center touchscreen. And we wish Porsche invested more into the lightweighting theme of this T model with a greater use of suede for the steering wheel, shifter, and seats. Instead, they are all optional, but they did ensure that there was no sunroof - weight savings right?
As with most Porsches, the driving position is excellent and the 8-way GTS Sport seats are supportive in all the right areas, though there is no memory function as standard. There’s just the right amount of side and thigh cushioning and while Porsche also offers 14- and 18-way adjustable seats, we don’t think they’re needed at all. The only area that annoyed us was that the seat and steering wheel were off-center, meaning we had to angle our bodies to the right to get the wheel centered on our torso. The right paddle shifter was also mounted at a closer distance to the back of the wheel than the left paddle. Odd, as we didn’t notice this with the numerous Macans we have tested before.
There are iconic combinations of cars, paints, and liveries that are set in stone and shouldn’t be trifled with, like a Honda NSX-R in Championship White, a Nissan R34 GT-R in Bayside Blue, or a Mercedes-AMG G-Wagon in Black. But Porsche gives you the option to choose from an expansive list of colours and have it painted onto your new Porsche. They call it their Paint to Sample program, and it’s valid for any new model, from your 911 to the Macan T. Porsche charges $13,050 but it will be even more expensive (north of $22,000) if you want a bespoke colour not in their list. The Macan has 59 shades as part of the program and you can view them on Porsche’s online configuator. It also includes the bold, brash, and striking shade of Speed Yellow on our test vehicle: not as saturated as Signal Yellow but not as bright and spicy on the eyeballs as Racing Yellow. It’s a nice medium that comes alive in the midnight glow.
Overall, the Macan T is well-suited for daily driving and road comfort while also adding some spice to the mix. It’s like ordering a flat white with a dash of cinnamon and whipped cream on top. It’s essentially the same coffee but with a thin veneer of excitement that brightens a gloomy morning. We would still recommend the Macan S if it’s within your monetary means but the T’s well-judged ride, welcome standard features, and delectable performance make it an easy alternative.
Model: 2023 Porsche Macan T
Paint Type: Speed Yellow
Base Price: $66,200
Price as Tested: $90,150
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,726 / 1,922 / 1,621
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 261 hp @ 5,000 - 6,500 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 1,800 - 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.0