The second-generation Porsche Macan hardly looks like a car enthusiast’s dream. In a world of three-cylinder manual Corollas, modern Lotuses, and multiple factory-built takes on the ultimate street 911, it may feel safe to write off an egg-shaped compact crossover as just another luxury electric product meant to reach two of the industry’s most important segments at once. Look deeper, however, and the Macan might just be the most important new car of the year.
Neither the sedan nor internal combustion are dead, but the ICE-powered sport sedan is fading. The next Dodge Charger may get four-door and gas-powered variants in time, but the age of V-8 Chargers has already ended and the next Mopar performance product has been seen only as an electric two-door concept. Kia, a brand that dipped its toes in the performance sedan waters in the 2010s, has already retreated to the safer ground of EV crossovers. BMW may be sticking with the M3, but the manual transmission has an expiration date. Options are disappearing as R&D departments focus on crossovers that will sell and EVs that will comply with changing regulations.
That does not just hurt new car buyers. For decades, cars like BMW’s E30 3-Series and E39 5-Series have been staples of the enthusiast used car market. Each were megahits in an era when sedans could sell at volume and even basic models were oriented toward driving experience, but that epoch has long since ended. The modern successors of those cars are oriented more toward a typical luxury buyer, and a famous switch in how BMW handled power steering took away the legendary feel that made those specific sedans so popular.
In that world, the current Macan is already more important than most enthusiasts realize. Some 800,000 of these things are on the road, per Porsche's own figures, and even the most worn and most basic models offer something to drivers that is missing from just about every other entry in the crowded compact crossover segment. The Macan has been a hit with R&T across a decade of refreshes and new trim levels for a reason: It has proven itself as the best performance option among a group of compact crossovers that admittedly are usually not designed with the joy of driving in mind. These cars already flood both the streets and the used car market, providing new buyers with a great driving experience and offering generations of future buyers a chance to get behind the wheel of something that is actually interesting to put through its paces.
Hell, I bought one! Me, myself. I wanted something charming, practical, and good to drive, so I went out and picked up a used Macan. I passed it on after an issue popped up a few months in, but in my blissfully unaware and also brief time with the car, I couldn't have been happier.
Porsche’s only current EV, the Taycan, is a great driver’s car in its own right. Porsche has already proven that it can translate the charms of their best gas-powered cars to an electric platform, building something that turns the unique traits of EVs into memorable charms without sacrificing an ounce of the feelings that make driving a performance car so appealing in the first place. The top-of-the-line Turbo S variant won its price point in R&T’s first-ever Performance EV of the Year test, and an even higher-end Taycan variant is coming soon to test the idea of what an electric sedan can be.
But the Taycan is a sport sedan, and we know how even the best sport sedans sell. Just over 100,000 were sold up to 2023 and, while that might be a strong number for a debuting EV at a high price point, it is dwarfed by the number of Macans on the road. It is the reason that Porsche never bothered to build what would be maybe the single best car in the world right now, a compact sedan on the gas-powered Macan platform. The Macan EV should bring the appeals of the Taycan, the appeals of a great EV aimed at enthusiasts, to a larger market.
That said, it's not a much, much larger market for the immediate future. Even the cheapest Macan starts at around $80,000, and a Turbo gets going nicely over $100,000. It'll take some time for depreciation to bring an electric Macan into the price range of someone like myself.
Still, if the Macan offers even 80 percent of the driving experience of either its gas-powered predecessor or its four-door electric cousin, a properly equipped base model will be a compelling car to drive at any speed.
It’s a Trojan horse, a way to conveniently sneak hundreds of thousands of truly great cars onto the marketplace by disguising them as sensible crossovers that also offer all of the prestige and comforts of a compact luxury sedan from a celebrated brand. If Porsche got this thing right, another 800,000 examples of a great performance car will be out on the street over the next decade. Enthusiasts just have to know to look for it.
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