Porsche’s baby crossover, the Macan, has been given what in hindsight it should have had all along – a sub one-crore price tag and clear polarity between it and the Cayenne. This is possible because of the new Macan R4 which sounds rather exotic but in actual fact, is the new base four-cylinder model.
Whereas the Macan Turbo starts at Rs 1.15 crore and comes awfully close to the Cayenne S petrol, Porsche will charge Rs 77 lakh (before options) for the R4 with two fewer cylinders. This new model, then, is alarmingly cheaper (by Porsche standards) but does it strike as good a balance between performance and practicality as the pricey Turbo or the S diesel?
While it may share its roots with the humble Audi Q5, the Macan R4’s design is every bit as Porsche as it can get. Even in this unassuming shade of blue, the Macan gets plenty of attention, thanks to some traditional Porsche details. The large air intakes up front and the sloping roofline, for instance, are typical of Porsche. The tapered roofline in fact is a clear nod to the 911 and the rear wings also have the unmistakable hunch out look of the Cayenne and the Panamera. The standout design element though are those beautifully detailed LED taillights which, dare we say it, remind us of the 918 hypercar.
As it should be, the R4 looks suitably posh and upmarket although we would like to add that those fancy LED headlights are part of the options list (the standard car gets halogen lamps).
The cabin design isn’t vividly different from what you would find on other four door Porsches but you can rest assured that the quality and fit and finish is impeccable all around. The 911-like steering wheel and that big centrally mounted rev counter are reminders that deep down the Macan R4 is rather special.
The driving position is spot with surprisingly good all-round view although it feels like you are in an elevated hatchback rather than a high-riding SUV. Nonetheless, the leather seats are brilliantly accommodating and offer equivalent levels of cushioning and thigh support. The side bolsters are pretty decent too – it’s a combination that makes highway cruising and those occasional twisty road drives equally enjoyable. With the driver’s seat set to our resident tester Ameya’s position who, by the way, is over six-feet tall, I prepared myself to have my legs squished once seated in the back. But as you can see from the pictures, there is more than enough leg room and the seat comfort itself is excellent. One tends to sit a little low for a mid-size crossover but the perfect cushioning and big glass house (large side windows + panoramic roof) more than make up for it.
In standard form, the Macan R4 has just about decent equipment levels. You get powered tailgate, cruise control, a nice sounding Bose audio system with smartphone mirroring tech, electrically powered seats, lot of airbags, Porsche Traction Management, Porsche Stability Management and some more. Some common features, however, are on the options list. You will have to shell out nearly Rs 1.15 lakh for the park assist with rear camera and an additional Rs 2.50 lakh for the panoramic sunroof. The Sport Chrono Package, which adds an analogue clock, Sport Plus driving mode and launch control function, is yours for Rs 1.65 lakh. As we found out, it’s easy to jack up the ex-showroom price of the Macan R4 to over a crore by ticking the items off the options list.
Being the cheapest Macan, it comes as no surprise that the R4 gets a four-cylinder turbo motor and not the usual 6-cylinder goodness that the rest of the range gets. Nevertheless, this turbocharged 2-litre unit makes plenty of power, at 252bhp. What’s more, with 370Nm of twist available from low revs, it’s definitely no slouch off the line.
The R4 doesn't have that snarly exhaust note of the Macan Turbo but what it lacks in sweet noise is more than made up once the revs climb. For a turbocharged four-cylinder, this engine loves to spin, eagerly climbing from idle to near redline without much of a hiccup. During our acceleration tests, the R4 took just 6.63 seconds to hit 100kmph from standstill, hitting 200kmph in a smidge under 31 seconds. In roll-on acceleration, too, the timings are nothing short of impressive, with 20-80kmph coming up in 4.29 seconds and 40-100kmph in 5.38 seconds.
The 7-speed dual-clutch unit (PDK in Porsche speak) that puts power down through all four wheels is one gem of a gearbox. Whether you let it do its own gear changes for you or you decide to use the paddle shifters, the gearbox is lightning fast and incredibly smooth at the same time. There is a tiny bit of hesitation as you floor the pedal from low speeds, but once it finds the right gear and gets going, this 7-speed unit is simply unstoppable.
Funnily enough, the drivetrain isn’t the most spectacular bit of the Macan R4. It’s the way this supposedly family crossover tackles high speeds and twisty bits that leaves us impressed. The pedals are comfortably weighted and there’s heaps of feedback and linearity through the steering wheel. In fact, the quick steering rack and brilliant front-end poise make the Macan feel like a smaller car than it actually is. I tried to find as many badly paved road surfaces as I could on our way to the photo shoot and testing and the Macan never felt too stiff. In fact, it soaked up the city commute comfortably and without ever getting unsettled. In normal driving mode, the Macan rides really well but switch over to Sport or Sport Plus and you will be rewarded with sharper steering response but at the expense of ride comfort.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||252bhp @ 5000 RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||370Nm @ 1600 RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||65|
|Tyre size||235/60 R18, 255/55 R18|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||252bhp @ 5000 RPM||177 bhp @ 5100 RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||370Nm @ 1600 RPM||265 Nm @ 1250 RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||65||60|
|Tyre size||235/60 R18, 255/55 R18||255/60 R18|
The Macan R4 may not match its rivals for cabin space, nor standard equipment. But when it comes to driving feel and involvement it’s simply unparalleled. Undoubtedly it’s also got the most slick engine and gearbox combination in the posh crossover space. So if you are set on this still-pricey Porsche, it’s probably worth haggling with the dealer to throw in a couple of expensive options!