The Macan’s handling seemed so capable that I asked the chassis engineers if the air suspension uses the clever twin-chamber air-spring design that gives the Panamera its brilliant combination of cosseting ride and supercar handling. The answer was that this more sophisticated (read costly) solution is unwarranted on a vehicle in the Macan’s class.
My Turbo test car had air suspension, which gives its secondary ride in particular that final touch of sophistication in the way it reacts to bumps. It also has distinct advantages off-road, not least in terms of approach and departure angles, ground clearance and axle articulation.
“One of the main ingredients for good handling is a stiff bodyshell,” explained structural engineer Hermann Sturm. “At 27,300 Nm/degree of twist, the Macan’s shell is stiffer than the Audi Q5 (26,600 Nm/degree) on which it is based. It also has a dynamic first-order frequency of 44 Hz with a solid roof, and 42 Hz with the optional Panorama roof, which is better than its Cayenne big brother.”
On track this stiff shell, coupled to PASM and PTV (Porsche Torque Vectoring), help the compact but relatively heavy Macan stretch my expectations quite convincingly. If you apply the correct race lines, keeping the car as straight as possible in the bends, the Turbo in particular is just ridiculously fast.
While the S suffered from its weight and relative lack of power compared to the Carrera pace car, the coupe was not able to convincingly drive away from the torque rich Turbo. I know the Leipzig track very well, and on the long right hand sweeper leading to the very slow corner known as the Bus Stop, I always take a very late apex, which allows me to go flat out around the sweeper with minimum slip angle.
The power and torque of the Macan Turbo meant that the Carrera in front, which was taking the same line, simply could not open the gap, which stayed consistent all the way around, right into the braking threshold for the Bus Stop.