While the Taycan was at the dealer for some work, they very kindly leant me a brand new (less than 500 miles on the clock) 2024 Macan. Not, of course, the upcoming EV version of the Macan, but a regular ICE version.
This captures a few of my thoughts on this vehicle, not compared to the Taycan, but to a 2018 Audi Q5 – its Audi badged cousin, but from 6 years ago.
I have also had previous model year Macans as loaner vehicles in the past, and a few of these observations are changes from those versions.
From the exterior, the Macan has not changed much from what I recall of the previous model year. Compared to the Audi, there are obvious similarities and some big differences. Overall size and shape, unsurprisingly, is similar. The nose is more distinctively Porsche and slopes down more than the Audi, though not as much as the rear engined Porsche sports cars, or the Taycan. There is a much more noticeable mouth on the Macan, with the adaptive cruise control radar centrally placed in it.
The wheels on this one were smart five-spoke alloys, with a split spoke design and it was riding on mud & snow tires. Interestingly, rated for 20 mph more than the M+S tires on the Taycan, though I would honestly not want to be getting close to that speed in this Macan (and I’m not even sure it could reach that speed).
The one thing I like better on the Macan than the Q5 is the location of the trunk open button. The Q5 has it located above the license plate, where it is frequently mucky after driving in wet weather. The Macan has it placed on the base of the rear window wiper mounting which does not seem to attract as much dirt and grime.
Otherwise, from the exterior they are both medium size SUVs, and the preference of one over the other would be totally down to personal taste. Functionally, there is little between them.
The interior is where the Macan surprised me the most, and not in a good way. While this interior has been updated from the 2023 models I was loaned last year, the upgrades are very limited, and, in my opinion, not really an improvement.
The biggest surprise was the use of analog dials in two of the three pods, and the very primitive display options for the third pod. Given how advanced the Taycan’s dash is (and that has made its way into other Porsche models already too), and given that the 2018 Audi Q5 I am familiar with has a full “virtual cockpit” screen with multiple different layouts, finding this very dated looking dash cluster in the latest Macan was a disappointment. I know some people prefer analog dials, and feel they are more suited to a sports car, but the digital dash in both the Q5 and the Taycan are far superior to these dials (and, honestly, they’re almost certainly not truly analog anyway – I’m sure they are driven by a digital system most likely driving a stepper motor).
The next difference, from both the Q5 and the previous model year Macan, is the array of “buttons” around the gear selector.
The Q5 has a more modern feeling gear selector that remains centered and is simply pushed forward or backward to select gears (and left/right for manual changes if you prefer that to using the paddles).
The previous model Macan had the same, more mechanical feeling (but I don’t believe actually mechanical) gear selector, but physical buttons for the heating/cooling, drive modes and other options.
This new Macan has replaced those physical buttons with a smooth piano black panel and capacitive touch switches for all the controls except the temperature and the parking brake! In my opinion, this is worse than a touch screen. You get all the disadvantages of the touch screen (unable to feel for the control while driving, requiring the driver to look down to find the button they want), with none of the advantages (ability to adapt the controls). Then there is the shiny black surface that shows both fingerprints and will likely scratch very easily.
The PCM in here is also still the previous generation, though it is responsive enough and the screen is both clear and large. It lacks some of the connected features the Taycan (and other models with the latest version of PCM) have, but it is very usable and does support limited over the air updates at least (while I had the car it downloaded & installed a very large map data update).
As far as driving goes, this is the base model, and has a similar 2.0 liter turbo charged engine to the Q5. The gearing feels a little different to the Audi, and when in normal mode there is a noticeable lag before it pulls away; made worse by an extremely aggressive engine shutoff policy which seems to cut the engine the second you hit 0 mph, making things like 3-point turns annoying and having me reach for the off button. In Sport mode, it is much nicer to drive in general, but that mode also permanently disables the engine shut-off. The Audi seems to do a much better job with that feature and is easy to drive in either mode. Obviously, neither of them compare to driving the Taycan (or any EV for that matter).
Maybe I did not locate the trick to select it, but the manual mode of the Macan seems more like the temporary adjustment that the Audi has, and I could only operate it through the paddles (which did have a nice quality feel to them). Within a short time it had reverted to automatic mode, and adjusted the gear selection back to its preference. In the Audi, I can move the gear selector to a manual position and the car will then only change the gear if absolutely necessary to prevent stalling.
In terms of fuel economy, I believe the Audi does a little better, but not by much, with the Macan managing just 25 mpg on longer freeway runs, and closer to 15 mpg around town. Given home charging at the rate we get here, that makes the Macan 3 to 6 times more expensive to run depending on the mix of freeway and city miles.
Clearly, Porsche buyers are not prioritizing fuel economy – the brand is about performance and style, not economy, but an Audi Q4 or even the larger eTron (now branded Q8 eTron) will get similar economy to the Taycan, and better performance and handling than the base model Macan, making it a smarter choice in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how well received the EV Macan is when it arrives. Based on what I have seen so far, it looks to be a strong player in the electric SUV segment (along with its Audi cousin, the Q6 eTron).