The Macan made us rethink the compact SUV in 2014; here's how to buy a great secondhand one
By Tony Middlehurst / Saturday, July 24, 2021 / Loading comments
- Available for £20,000
- Nice range of petrol and diesel engines, all-wheel drive
- Proper Porsche handling
- Super quality inside and out
- Some mechanical niggles with pre-facelift cars
- Firm residual values
Search for a Porsche Macan here
What’s the most common used Porsche model in the UK? If you said ‘Cayenne’, well done, you win any prize from the top shelf. What about the second most popular Porsche then? Boxster, you say? Right again.
What may surprise you is that the third most popular used Porsche in the UK didn’t even exist seven years ago. Launched in 2014, the Macan was a compact all-wheel drive SUV built on a modified Audi Q5 MLB platform and suspension package. Designed to take on the BMW X3, it packaged up an alluring mix of performance, handling, luxury and equipment with five-passenger, four-season, four-wheel drive utility.
With affordable pricing and (you hoped) running costs, allied to the comforting blanket of Porsche brand value and quality, the Macan became an instant hit. It has been the biggest selling Porsche since 2016. In 2019 it outsold the 911, 718 Cayman/Boxster, Panamera and Taycan combined in the US.
The internet tells us that Macan is the Javanese word for tiger, a fair choice given some of the derivatives on offer. On the petrol side, even the base 2.0 turbo four that went on sale in the UK in 2015 had 240hp. The 3.0 TFSI twin-turbo six in the Macan S lifted power to 340hp, giving it a 5.4sec 0-62 time. Sport Chrono versions (a £729 extra) had launch control, lopping around 0.2sec off Macan 0-62 times. 400hp in the range-topping 3.6 V6 Turbo resulted in a 0-62 of 4.8sec, or 4.4sec if it had the 440hp Performance Package. Completing the starting range was a 258hp/428lb ft Audi-sourced 3.0 in the S Diesel. This car represents the overwhelming majority of the used Macans on sale in the UK.
A year after the Macan launch, at the 2015 Tokyo show, a GTS version of the 3.0 twin-turbo V6 was released. With slightly more boost pressure than the S, the GTS had 360hp and a 0-62 of 5.4sec, filling the gap between the S and the Turbo. It also had standard PASM adaptive suspension paired with air springs. The GTS was around £10,000 more expensive than the S and was put forward by Porsche as the sporting all-rounder in the range.
Porsche’s superb seven-speed PDK was the standard Macan transmission. Excellent drivetrains were backed by equally accomplished chassis setups with air or steel suspension and the option of Porsche PASM active management. Ready to roll, Macans at the top end of the range weighed close to two tonnes but even the Performance Package versions of the Macan Turbo emitted a relatively parsimonious 224g/km of carbon.
New, slightly powered up (350hp) S and S Sport models were revealed in 2016. The base 2.0 that had initially been restricted to the UK and some Asian markets was put on sale in more countries, now with a piano black interior, exterior trim pieces borrowed from the S and a new-gen comms system.
There was another Macan update in 2018/9 with modifications to the chassis, a front and rear refresh with LED lights, a particulate filter on the petrol models and another new comms system (adopted from the new Panamera) with a bigger touchscreen, Porsche Connect (with services like call centre support and real-time traffic updates) and two new 7.0in displays. The existing 3.0 and 3.6-litre V6 petrols were replaced at this time by more efficient 2.9 and 3.0 units. In the 2.9 Macan Turbo the engine stats were 440hp/405lb ft, while the same unit in the GTS was producing 380hp.
As part of the general exodus towards electricity the diesel Macan was discontinued in 2018, along with the only other diesel still wearing a Porsche badge, the Panamera 4S. Freshened up infotainment, chassis and connectivity services came along in 2019 and there were more twiddles earlier this year (2021) as the IC Macan mooches along in readiness for the arrival of a fully electric Macan in the next year or two. That won’t be cheap, given that standard Macans start at £47,000 now (they were just over £40k new in 2014) and the Turbo is nearly £69,000. On top of that, a facelift model is arriving as we speak (summer 2021, see Matt’s story here) which will crank prices up still more.
Happily you don’t need to spend upwards of £70k on a Macan. We’ve seen high-mileage (135,000 plus) diesels on sale for less than £20,000 – but would your investment be safe on a low-price, high-mile Macan? Let’s have a look at what’s good and what’s not. We’ve chosen the first-generation 355hp GTS to base our specs on as it’s arguably the most attractive, and PH-friendly, Macan offering.
SPECIFICATION | PORSCHE MACAN (2014-on)
Engine: 2,997cc, bi-turbo V6
Transmission: 7-speed PDK, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],000rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],650-4,000rpm
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds (5.0 seconds with optional Sport Chrono Package)
Top speed: 159mph
Weight: 1,895kg (unladen DIN)
MPG: 30.7- 32.1 (NEDC claimed combined depending on tyres fitted)
CO2: 207-215g/km (Depending on tyres fitted)
Wheels (in): 9 x 20 (f), 10 x 20 (r)
Tyres: 265/45 (f), 295/40 (r)
On sale: 2015 – 2021
Price new: £55,188 (GTS, 2015)
Price now (GTS/all models): from £40,000/£20,000
(Figures shown are for first-gen GTS)
Note for reference: car weight and power data are hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
The range of Macan engines was an interesting one. The VW group EA888 engine used in the base model made the Macan 2.0 the first four-cylinder Porsche since the 968, narrowly beating the 718 Boxster/Cayman to that claim. The 258hp diesel was a smooth and refined thing with plenty of shove from 1,800rpm to 4,000rpm and a useful braked towing limit of 2,400kg. Its official combined consumption figure was 46.3mpg, with 40mpg easily attainable in normal use, but it could drop to the low 30s surprisingly easily. Some diesel owners, especially those using their vehicles mainly on short town runs, experienced particulate filter problems.
Macan S and S Diesels had a four-exit exhaust, the Turbo’s systems being bespoke to that model, while the GTS came with a ‘sports’ system. The twin-turbo cars had a meaty throb at idle and plenty of refined urge. Some early V6 petrol Macans did suffer from timing case cover seal oil leaks as a result (allegedly) of unsuitable bolts. The location of the cover meant that the engine had to be dropped to fix it. This was originally a 40-hour job, but independents have since developed workarounds for it. Even so it’s still not a quick or cheap task, so look for leaks and ideally evidence of remedial work having been carried out on any car you’re looking at. There have also been reports of leaks from the oil supply lines to the turbochargers, so look for signs of that too.
Vacuum leaks in early V6s were often caused by PCV issues and would throw a CEL and fault code. Tired or cracked exhaust mounts and/or brackets could result in a ‘chirping’ noise on early Macans if you revved the engine to 2,000rpm or so and then quickly removed your foot from the throttle. Later cars had redesigned downpipes and brackets to prevent the metallic rubbing that was causing this chirp.
A whistling at idle could be a flaky fuel pressure valve. There have been no less than three recalls to rectify fuel system problems on Macans, from leaks on pre-October 2015 Turbo and S models to issues with fuel pumps on 2015-18 cars. Even with the fuel system working properly the performance models weren’t especially frugal. The official combined fuel figure for the GTS was 32.1mpg but if you enjoyed it to the full, you’d be seeing numbers in the low 20s.
Faulty coils weren’t uncommon, just for a change on a German car, and spark plugs did wear out on Macans. If your engine was using a lot of oil, like a pint every 500 miles, you needed to ask a specialist about why that might be and hope it wasn’t the piston rings.
The PDK gearbox was predictably brilliant, dovetailing perfectly with any of the engines in Normal mode and sharpening up nicely in Sport or Sport plus. It wasn’t 100 percent reliable in the Macan though. The electronically controlled clutch could run into difficulties. Check a car’s history to make sure that the fluid changes and software updates have all been carried out.
Vibration and/or jerkiness under acceleration from low speeds was noted by quite a few owners on 2014-18 Macans, worsening when there was some steering lock applied. This was traced back to faulty transfer case assemblies. In the US at least Porsche retroactively extended the warranty on these cases to seven years with unlimited mileage. Owners who paid to get the issue fixed before the warranty decision was taken were told that their costs would be reimbursed.
Some Cayenne owners will be nodding ruefully at this next one, which was clunking and vibration from the main driveshaft. This was caused by wear in the central support bearing and/or the rubber coupling pieces. Aftermarket replacements of the bearing components were considered by some to be a better long-term solution than just having more of the same fitted by Porsche.
As Porsches go, the Macan was and is relatively affordable to buy, but if you take it to an official Porsche centre for your servicing you will see the expensive side of Porsche ownership. Fixed-price servicing is available however and so is good value marque-specialist work outside the dealership network. Have a read through a few Macan forums to see which names come up most often and in the most positive way. With luck there’ll be a good ‘un within striking distance of your house.
Scheduled servicing is every two years or 20,000 miles, alternating between minor (oil and filter) and major, which on petrol models will include replacing the plugs. The visit at 12 years or 120,000 miles is the most expensive There are no cambelts to change on Macans. There’s no dipstick either. You must rely on what you’re being told about oil levels by the dash readout.
Although the Audi Q5 was the ‘donor’ car for the Macan’s chassis, so to speak, Porsche was adamant that its own reworkings made it more than 70 per cent new and that it was more of a sports car than a mere SUV. They wanted you to think of it more as a high-riding 911 than a small Cayenne. That was a bit of a mental stretch, but it was certainly true that with the stability control turned off the chassis showed a readiness to hang its tail out that would cause a Q5 owner’s eyebrows to shoot up.
On the track, testers found that a well-driven Macan Turbo could almost keep up with a Cayman, which was quite an achievement. A firmish ride was the only small downside to the Macan’s chassis but it was worth it for the extra control. Comfort mode in the GTS allowed a little float but generally provided a good compromise of ride and control. Sport and Sport Plus brought the usual firming-up, but even in the most rigid setting the Macan was more than acceptable for daily work.
It was difficult to find an SUV with better steering. Perhaps reflecting the car’s appeal to urban users, Porsche’s Power Steering Plus was a popular Macan add-on, lightening the steering at parking speeds.
Standard wheel size for the regular Macans was 18in. The Turbo generally had 19in wheels while GTS models had 20in wheels, Turbo brakes and 15mm lower-riding adaptive sports suspension. You can go up to as much as 22in on the wheels.
Off Road and Hill Control modes made light work of even quite heavy conditions, with ground clearance rather than traction being the main limiting factor. Air suspension was a good choice for those planning to spend more time off the tarmac as it gave you the option of raising the car by 40mm, but steel springs were better if you were sticking mainly to the roads.
PASM-equipped cars like the GTS could malfunction, usually signalled by one end or one side of the car sitting at a different level to the opposite one. It could be a leaking shock or hose, a dodgy valve block or maybe just a bad electrical connection. Or, if you were lucky and managed to spot it, it could be a wonky ride height sensor leading you a merry dance.
Another way to spot a suspension air leak was to see whether the compressor supplying air to the system was running all the time rather than in the short top-up burst style it was supposed to. If the compressor wasn’t working at all, that could easily be nothing more serious than a failed relay.
The Macan’s all-wheel drive system was permanent with an electromagnetic clutch shuffling power between the axles, as per Porsche’s AWD Cayennes, Panameras and 911s. Power defaulted to the rear tyres until they began to spin, at which point some of it was diverted to the front by an electronically controlled clutch. Automotive Brake Differential helped to boost this sporty feel by braking the inside back wheel on corners, with the optional Torque Vectoring Plus powering up the outside wheel via an electronic rear diff. Later cars came with lane departure warning as standard. Faulty wheel speed sensors could generate ABS/PSM (Porsche Stability Management) faults.
Get into a Macan and you’d be in no doubt as to which manufacturer made it. Porsche did not skimp on choice, well-fitted materials to carry off the factory look and feel, creating marque authenticity for anyone who wanted a selection of cars in their garage but no other badges.
You didn’t get the lofty driving perch beloved by many SUV owners, but the benefit of the low seating position was a greater sense of connection with the road. The front seats were really comfortable, all-round visibility was great, and there was a nice sense of security in being comfortably wedged between the door and the huge central console. New drivers needed some time to work out what all the various buttons did, but it was just a case of getting used to it.
There was a lot of storage space, including door bins that would take big bottles, but there wasn’t a great deal of legroom in the back and the big trans tunnel effectively made it a four- rather than a five-seater. Still, all three of the rear seats were foldable (40/20/40) which was handy for skiers, and the boot’s well-shaped 500 litre space with power tailgate was almost as practical as the Cayenne’s.
Cruise control, three-zone climate, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, and digital radio were standard in every Macan, as was the Porsche Communication Management multimedia system. Some owners had quite a bit of bother with their PCMs, with random restarts or switch-offs, different languages coming up on the screen, non-loading maps etc. Sometimes a PCM reset – a glorified ‘turn it off and on again’ trick – would sort things out, but if it was an electronic or hardware problem, which it could be, all you could do (before specialists began to offer a repair service anyway) was replace the entire unit at a depressingly high cost.
The Macan was subject to the usual Porsche upselling, so most cars on the used market today are well specced. As standard, Turbos got 14-speaker 545-watt Bose sound, leather upholstery and a smaller version of the satnav map in the 4.8in screen forming part of the three-section main instrument cluster. If you wanted sat-nav from new and you weren’t buying a Turbo it was a £1,050 option. Early Macan sat-navs didn’t cope that well with postcode inputs.
Ironically, cars with the optional panoramic roof could feel more claustrophobic, in the rear especially, because of the reduction in headroom.
Only the GTS and Turbo had bi-xenon headlights as standard. The image quality provided by the first-phase Macan’s reversing camera was not universally admired. This was improved by Porsche on later cars and decent aftermarket solutions are available for earlier Macans.
On some cars the door mirror would move up instead of down when reverse gear was engaged. A software patch was put out by Porsche to resolve this. The rear washer could leak, which would mean a replacement unit.
Despite the relatively high numbers of cars sold and the troubles that some owners have had with early cars, the value retention that Macans have demonstrated over the last seven years shows that they’re as well regarded as an ownership proposition as any other Porsche. Obviously the trust that buyers place in the model is reflected in the used prices.
We said at the beginning that you could buy a Macan for as little as £20,000, and that’s true because we did find one privately owned example for that money. We also found a dealer car at £21k, both diesels, but in all honesty the £20k Macan is a rare beast. For a car with under 100,000 miles you’re more likely to be shelling out something in the region of £24,000-£25,000, and you’ll be somewhere in the high thirties for a GTS which as we’ve mentioned is arguably the most PH-friendly model. The straight 340hp 3.0 S petrol shouldn’t be ignored, however. It’s a sweet thing that will work as well as the GTS for many people. Expect to pay around £30k for an S with 60-70,000 miles on it.
2018-on cars are the best in terms of problems, or the lack of them, but they’re also expensive. The cheapest Turbos come in at around £35k for early examples that have covered 80-90,000 miles. That compares to the £40,000 or so that you would have been paying couple of years ago for a 2014 Turbo with 50,000 miles. 2.0 litre petrol cars are a little bit more affordable than the higher profile variants, but you’ll still need around £28,000 for a 2015 with the same 80-90k miles. By way of compensation the 2.0s do tend to be very well optioned up.
The 3.0 S diesel is by far the most common single model of Macan on the big auction and trading sites, and you can see why when you drive one and tap into the easy 405lb ft of torque which makes them very suitable for towing. Diesel prices typically start at around £26,000, with the odd much cheaper car coming up occasionally, as noted above.
If you only want petrol, you’ll find a much higher proportion of these on PH classifieds. Not bigging up the site (much) you understand, just stating a fact. The lowest priced Macan on PH at the time of writing was this 2015 2.0 with 85,000 miles. This nicely specced 2015 3.0 S in blue with Bose, 19in alloys and full leather is £32,440. For a sub-£40k GTS what about this handsome red beast from 2017. Despite its 87,000 miles the asking price is £38,994. For about a thousand more you could be in this 2016 Turbo on 21in wheels.
Search for a Porsche Macan here
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