The electric Macan is the true beginning of Porsche’s electric reinvention.

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December 14, 2023

Porsche’s future is electric. The company’s executives at various levels have been clear about their goal to electrify 80 percent of the

company’s cars sold in 2030. While the Taycan was a great start, Porsche will have to start tapping into its bigger-selling models to really move the needle. Those models are, of course, the SUVs. Though the Macan sport-ute is still a bit tender from its 2021 rhinoplasty, it’ll soon face an even more significant reinvention.

Meet the new Macan, Porsche’s first vehicle based on the Volkswagen Group’s Premium Platform Electric, or PPE. This new foundation allows for bigger batteries with more advanced construction, plus all the advanced handling features you’ve come to expect, like Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) air suspension, Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) active differentials, and rear-axle steering. How does it all come together? After a day behind the wheel of a camouflaged prototype, the answer is simple.

Tech Brief

As deployed in the electric Macan, the new PPE platform makes room for roughly 100 kilowatt-hours worth of battery pack. Porsche wasn’t yet ready to confirm exact figures at the time of writing, but the result should be a noticeable bump over the range offered by the Taycan’s 93.4-kWh pack. That pack will use a new construction, switching to prismatic cells from the Taycan’s pouch setup.

Prismatic cells are enclosed in a rigid case, which should improve overall pack structural integrity. The chemistry has changed slightly, too, with a focus on improving the cathode. Porsche’s engineers wouldn’t go into more details there, but cathode advancements typically impact a battery’s energy density and thermal management. A standard heat pump in the Macan should also help bolster range in colder temperatures, along with a more sophisticated thermal management system.

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Porsche wasn’t willing to provide absolute range figures but said to expect something north of 500 kilometers (310 miles) on the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). That should mean approximately 275 to 300 miles on the more challenging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s range test cycle.

When it comes to power, all of these electric Macans will offer all-wheel-drive thanks to a dual-motor configuration, but there will be at least two different power levels. How those will be branded remains to be seen, but in its highest performance trim, the electric Macan will make somewhere north of 600 horsepower. That figure would put it right on par with the current Taycan GTS.

Interestingly, though, where the Taycan relies on a two-speed transmission on the rear axle, optimizing power output throughout its rev range, the Macan does not. However, it is optionally paired with a PTV active rear differential, able to vary torque from left to right. The front differential, meanwhile, is open, using the braking system to temper excessive wheelspin on either wheel.

Dimensionally, the electric Macan has grown a bit, but lacking some official figures from Porsche, it’s not fair to say by how much. Nevertheless, it still maintains its svelte, coupe-like crossover SUV shape. Many of the prototype models Porsche brought out to play were configured with active rear-axle steering, while most featured PASM two-valve air suspension. No pricing was available for any of these options or trim packages.

The Drive

While the current-generation Macan may lack the engagement of a Cayman or a 911 on a twisty road or race track, within the crossover SUV category, it is the benchmark for handling prowess. Given that, my expectations were high for this electric refresh. But aggression isn’t enough. The Macan also needs to be a practical machine, and suitably, my drive started with a good stretch of Southern California bumper-to-bumper traffic, a great chance to sample the Macan’s commuting capability.

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With Innodrive with active cruise control enabled and the PASM air suspension set at its softest, the Macan was brilliantly compliant. Concrete separation joints and L.A. metro potholes passed underneath without fuss, 22-inch all-season tires passing admirably little road noise into the cabin. Out in the hills, though, another character emerged. With a twist of the wheel-mounted mode selector knob, the Macan toggled over to Sport mode. That two-valve PASM air suspension promptly hunkered down and the throttle sharpened up. The Electric Sport Sound system also kicked on.

The latter is an enhanced motor sound—fundamentally the same as in the Taycan—that modulates based on how fast you’re going and how hard you’re stepping on the now-loud pedal. The tone here is subtly different, though, boomier to suit the different character of the Macan. Like on the Taycan, it won’t be for everybody, but also, like on the Taycan, it’s easily deactivated.

The Macan, though, features another new digital augmentation that Porsche calls the Communication Light. This feature adds an LED strip that runs across the top of the dashboard, separate but similar to the ambient LED strip that makes a full interior circumference. The Communication Light can be configured to conduct a mini light show in response to a few different inputs. Cycle through drive modes, and it’ll pulse accordingly. It can also flash in response to interventions from the active safety system, navigation inputs, and about a dozen other factors. It’s a minor thing but a nice touch for the generation of buyers who crave a little more visual stimulus.

The light show is part of a significant interior refresh, taking cues from the new Cayenne and the Taycan. The digital gauge cluster has a subtle curve to it and is customizable to show navigation, trip information, or just the big, central tachometer if you prefer a more traditional feel.

The stubby shifter has migrated up to the dash to the right of the steering wheel, while an engine start/stop button sits to the left. A widescreen Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment screen fills the middle of the dash. While much of the dashboard was covered with fabric to stop my spying too much, I could see a separate display for the passenger peeking out from underneath.

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With the Communication Light showing, I’d toggled over to Sport Plus, and the Electric Sport Sound noise at its loudest, the Macan turned into a bit of a performance brute. That 600+ horses and an equally prodigious (though undisclosed) amount of torque made the thing sprint forward faster than any Macan I’ve ever experienced. Remember, the current Macan GTS is a quick machine with 434 horsepower. Another 170 ponies somersaults this thing into near-supercar territory!

Even more impressive is the handling. Yes, the electric Macan has gained some weight. There’s no denying that. Sadly, Porsche won’t confirm how much, but you can feel it. Still, the PTV active rear differential and rear-axle steering work wonders. On an EV like this, that weight is often most problematic during heavy corners with broken pavement, where the suspension must cope with both the mass of the machine and the force of the impact. But even when the asphalt turned sour, the Macan stayed sweet, ducking and diving through some of the tightest and twistiest roads that California has to offer.

Surging over crests, the Macan settled quickly, easily holding plenty of speed through the turns to make all four of the all-season Continental tires cry loudly. When they gave up, that usually happened at the front first, a gentle tendency towards understeer that you’d expect from an SUV. But, with a little power and a few more degrees of steering, the Macan proved it still had more turn to give, rear-steering and active differentials doing what the front tires couldn’t.

After hours of flogging the car like this on a hot, sunny day, there wasn’t a hint of fade from the conventional steel brakes on all four corners. That’s for two reasons, the most significant being that this brake-by-wire system means all pedal feel is entirely synthetic. What you feel under your foot has no relation to what’s happening with the braking system. In fact, there’s a good chance nothing at all is happening with the braking system.

The 800-volt EV architecture here means the Macan can hoover up so much juice during regeneration that the car rarely needs to squeeze those calipers, even under hard braking. And that’s the second reason you’re unlikely to feel fade: those brakes aren’t going to see a lot of action. If brake performance were to be reduced due to temperature or other factors, a Porsche engineer told me that the brake pedal feel would modulate to give some semblance of feedback.

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But, short of that, you’ll have a firm, consistent pedal every time you step on it, a pedal feel that is a step above the occasionally vague feedback given by the stopper on the Taycan. That’s a good thing because, like the Taycan, the Macan will not offer anything close to a one-pedal driving mode. For fans of high-regen, one-pedal driving, I’m sorry to say it doesn’t sound like Porsche will ever change its philosophy there. Many passengers will be thankful for that, as regen and sensitive stomachs don’t often go well together.

Passengers will also be grateful for what felt like some additional room in the back seat, plus a pair of USB-C ports back there for charging. Though the PPE platform lacks the so-called “foot garages” the Taycan featured to give room for passenger feet, the electric Macan actually offers lower seating than the current model, thanks to redesigned, thinner seats. Despite that, there’s no loss in comfort compared to what we’ve come to expect in the current Macan. The front seats are still heated and ventilated, too.

All that is contained in a design that, from a silhouette standpoint at least, isn’t significantly different than what’s on the road today. The finer details, though, were a little harder to suss out through the prototype Macan camouflage. Subtle as it was, finer details such as lights and intakes remained heavily obscured with mismatched vinyl and plastic. We’ll have to wait for Porsche to strip all that off to see just what this thing looks like for real.

The Verdict

After a day behind the wheel of this prototype, the new, electric Macan looks to be a worthy successor to Porsche’s best-selling model, the kind of thing that will immediately charm potential buyers whether they need a highway shuttle or a backroad blaster. In reality, though, it won’t be a successor at all. At least, not yet. This new Macan will, for a time, live alongside the current flavor. Porsche has yet to decide how they’ll differentiate the two from a branding standpoint other than to say that both will be called Macan.

Given the current Macan tops out at the GTS level, there’s plenty of room within the greater Porsche taxonomy to resurrect the Macan Turbo and apply that to the electric flavor. I fear dealers will have a challenge explaining that, but given the myriad and ever-changing 911 variants, it’s not like they aren’t used to that sort of thing. If nothing else, this situation will give Porsche the flexibility to meet market demand, producing more or fewer EVs depending on what consumers demand. However, once they get a chance to drive the EV, I can’t imagine anyone demanding internal combustion. Yes, the electric Macan isn’t just good, it’s utterly brilliant!

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