Respite. Refuge. A business trip. However you classify it, four days in sunny San Francisco is a welcome relief from the indomitable cold and darkness of Winter in New York. And while my primary purpose was the latter, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have time to enjoy myself a little. The Porsche Macan S is a perfect blend of business and pleasure. A compact SUV provides enough room for a suitcase and seating for four. The Porsche DNA ensures that it will be more than capable of tearing down Highway 1, which is where I’ll be heading first.
After a botched connection in Atlanta and a very comfortable upgrade for the transcontinental flight, I arrived at SFO well after dark on Sunday night. On paper, stepping off a First Class flight in San Francisco and picking up a Porsche reads like an opening to a spy novel. I doubt 007 ever had to ride the Park N’ Fly bus, but there was some level of satisfaction valeting the Agate Grey Macan S at the hotel.
The plan was simple. I had to be in San Jose by 4:00pm on Monday evening, so I would drive north across the Golden Gate bridge and spend as much time on Highway 1 as possible. Once the Porsche’s GPS indicated an ETA of 4:00, I’d turn around and go to work. I checked out of the hotel and, immediately, there was a problem. At 7:00am on a Monday morning, the 101 was moving about as fast as a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru. Unlike the unhappy Californians that surrounded me, I was not on my way to work. I was headed for Muir Woods National Monument for a morning stroll among the Californian redwoods.
With the Macan’s Bose surround sound system drowning out the morning bustle, I turned off the 101 and onto the ground streets of downtown San Francisco. This is where the Macan’s first advantages came to light. The extra height of the Macan allowed me to see around other vehicles, read street signs, and take in the sights. The extra visibility combined with Porsche’s optional Infotainment Package meant that I never once missed a turn. A 7” touchscreen in the console and configurable screen in the gauge cluster provided constant updates to my position and upcoming waypoints. One of San Francisco’s defining traits is its steep city streets. Let’s just say I wouldn’t have wanted the departure angle of a Cayman or 911 as I bisected the cross streets.
Having crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, I turned off the 101 once again and began making my way up into the woods. As the elevation rose, the roads narrowed and wound tightly around the topography. Still marred by traffic, speeds were slow. There was plenty of time to look around and catch glimpses of sunlight streaming through narrow valleys and burning off the morning fog. By 9:00am, I was on the trails of Muir Woods. Having never visited the West Coast, the redwood forests are something I’ve only read about. Walking through the stillness and silence of an ancient forest is a sensation that I will not try to capture in words. Besides, that’s not why you’re here. Next stop: Muir Beach.
At last, the mighty Pacific. It was nearly 11:00am when I stepped out of the Macan for its first photoshoot. With almost half my time gone, I had yet to really stretch the Macan’s legs. That was about to change. From here, Highway 1 follows the coast north past Stinson Beach. It was as if I had been uploaded into a simulator. For the next 45 minutes, I didn’t come across a single car. Hairpins, blind corners, sweeping elevation changes, sheer cliffs, wide ocean vistas – this road had it all. And on this sunny, 55 degree January morning, it was all mine.
Here, I was thankful for the most of the Macan’s optional equipment. The Sport Chono package unlocks the “Sport Plus” setting for the steering, engine and transmission. Porsche Active Suspension Management offers three settings for the adjustable shock absorbers to reduce body roll. Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus manages the torque split to the rear wheels and uses the rear brakes to improve rapid changes in direction. With a single press of a button, the entire car tenses up. Say what you like about the origins of this new CUV, the Macan S has Porsche DNA.
Under the unique wraparound hood is a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 connected to Porsche’s 7-speed double-clutch transmission. Peak output is 340hp and 339lb-ft torque. In Sport Plus, the PDK gearbox holds gears longer and rev-match downshifts under braking, keeping the turbos spinning. Body roll is nearly nonexistent, a strange sensation in a CUV, and the steering is perfectly weighted. For several minutes at a time, the road was nothing but a complex series of corners where speeds never exceeded 45mph. And it wasn’t for lack of trying! Abundant mid-range torque hauled the Macan out of one corner and into the next. The steel brakes showed no signs of weakness as they were repeatedly abused. But what was most amazing was how neutral the Macan S remained through it all.
Somewhere along the way, I pulled off this small slice of heaven to take more photos overlooking Stinson Beach. Back home in NY, over two feet of snow was falling on Limited Slip HQ. The Macan’s fans whirred as I, unaccustomed to the warmer temperatures, began to sweat. I was working hard, pushing as much as I dared on unfamiliar roads and the Macan barely seemed to notice. There were moments where I wasn’t prepared – corners I didn’t expect, vistas that were distractingly scenic. Every single time, the Macan took my corrections in stride. There was no hint of understeer, no loss of traction. The Macan never panicked. It showed no sign of struggle, save for the remnants of brake pad speckled on the 19” wheels.
I would like to tell you that I kept driving. I wish that, after I dined on some of the best fresh fish tacos I’ve ever tasted, I could have continued north. But the Porsche’s GPS showed my moment in paradise was dwindling. With a heavy heart, I eventually turned south and made my way back to the 101. At 3:50pm, I pulled into the parking garage of the San Jose Convention Center. With the knowledge that I had spent every possible minute with the Macan and the Pacific Coast Highway, I went to work. Over the next 3 days, the Macan S pulled commuter duty without complaint. The heated seat and steering wheel took the chill out of the early morning, and the sonorous V6 announced my retirement for the day.
When I arrived back at the Park N’ Fly lot on Thursday morning, the Macan and I had traveled only 200 miles together. My average of 17.7mpg should let you know that I enjoyed it. Sometimes you don’t need to spend a lot of time with a car to get an impression of what it’s like to live with. The Macan S is a very willing companion. It is superbly practical, seating 4 and providing ample room for luggage and cargo. This particular tester equipped everything we’d want with very few extras. With only $14k in options, the Macan S goes down as the least expensive Porsche we’ve ever tested. But when the powers that be offer a divine moment of motoring perfection, Porsche’s new CUV can outpace and outperform anything else in the segment.
|2015 Porsche Macan S
|Agate Grey Metallic||$690|
|Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM)||$1,360|
|Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus)||$1,490|
|Sport Chrono Package||$1,290|
|Porsche Entry & Drive||$810|
|Porsche Car Connect||$420|
|Bose Surround Sound System||$1,400|
|Steering Wheel Heating||$250|
|As Tested MSRP||$64,185|