The oldest member of the Porsche lineup is still plenty likable.

Verdict 6.9 / 10

Porsche, a brand famed for its adherence to a slow, deliberate design evolution, is making some sizable changes for its new products. From the outside, the cars still look like Porsches. In the cabin, though, screens are taking the place of dials, and touch-capacitive panels are replacing physical buttons. This might be a minor change for some brands, but for Porsche and its large base of purists, it's a seismic shift.

There are still changes to come, though. While the 911, Panamera, and Cayenne have jumped headfirst into a digital world, the brand's smaller products retain some classic interfaces. In the case of the refreshed 2019 Porsche Macan S, though, those older interior bits play neatly with an exterior that's in line with the brand's current product, while retaining the same driving character (with a new engine) that make the brand's products so tempting.

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Design 8/10

The Porsche Macan looked fresh when it debuted in 2013, and the 2019 update maintains that freshness. This has to be one of the most modern-looking seven-year-old vehicles on the market. Elements like a vehicle-spanning rear taillight with the “Porsche” script and a revised front fascia complement the usual, but unchanged, Porsche lines. Overall, though, the current car's exterior hews closely to older Macans.

It's the cabin where you'll find the most modern touches. Porsche's newest infotainment system centers around a 10.9-inch touchscreen that designers integrated more neatly into the dash. In the instrument cluster, the rightmost of the three binnacles houses a small display – the arrangement looks less elegant than what you'll find in other Porsche products, which marry the center tachometer with two 7.0-inch displays. There's an off-balanced feel here, although it's one of the few uneven parts of the cabin.

The Macan retains twin banks of buttons on each side of the gear lever. Our test car is missing a few optional extras, and the rows of blank buttons are a disappointing styling feature. On the other, this feels like a more functional design than the touch-capacitive controls on newer Porsches. There's also an incredibly solid, high-quality feel to these buttons. Pressing each one or adjusting the toggle-style temperature and fan controllers is a more pleasant and tactile experience than on modern models. The sensation of quality permeates all other aspects of the interior, too. The Macan feels bank-vault solid, while the materials also wow.

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Comfort 8/10

the Macan is a pleasant daily driver with a quiet cabin and a smooth ride. Porsche offers both adaptive dampers and an air suspension, although our test car carried the former only. The air-suspended setup impressed us when we tested it in Mallorca at the 2019 Macan's global launch, but our tester's adaptive dampers and optional 20-inch wheels coped with Michigan's pockmarked roads well. This is a solid ride, belying the Macan S' performance focus, while at the same time the ride is relaxed and composed, even when facing rough roads. As we said in our first drive, Porsche balanced the Macan's suspension tuning well.

Porsche offers the Macan with standard eight-way or optional 14- or 18-way front seats. The upholstery ranges from a no-cost setup with Alcantara seat centers and leatherette outers, partial leather, full leather, or “natural” leather. In the case of our tester, we had the free-of-charge setup – it's okay if you make the same decision when ordering a Macan.

The standard seats and upholstery are plenty good, even in a premium, performance-focused model like the Macan S. There's ample support and adjustability with the eight-way chairs. The Alcantara centers look and feel high quality, too. Like we said, there's no shame in saving some coin with the Macan's basic front chairs and upholstery.

The second row is perfectly adequate for a pair of adults, with 35.6 inches of legroom on the comfortable, well-cushioned bench. The Macan's second row a fine place to hang out for longer stints, with easy ingress and egress. This is doubly true if your typical backseat passengers are on the younger or smaller side. Cargo space is average for the class, with 17.6 cubic feet when the second row is up and a maximum of 52.9 cubes.

Technology & Connectivity 8/10

The Macan's infotainment system, Porsche Communication Management, is the same as you'll find on the Panamera, Cayenne, and 911. It's a great setup that responds quickly to inputs and presents the results in crisp, clear resolution. The overall layout of the menus and such is somewhat complicated, but after an initial learning curve, the organization feels smart and natural. Apple CarPlay is an optional extra, although at $360, it's more of an annoying premium than anything – on a $60,000 car, CarPlay should just be standard. Android Auto isn't available.

While the 10.9-inch display looks fantastic, the smaller screen in the instrument cluster exhibits grainier graphics and less clarity. That said, interacting with the display is easy via a scroller on the steering wheel – we particularly like the way Porsche lets drivers reconfigure vehicle information such as turbo boost, oil temperature and pressure, and so on.

Both the 10.9-inch display and the instrument cluster screen are standard, as is a 4G LTE wifi connection. The Macan is short on additional standard equipment, although Porsche's legendary options catalog has everything you could possibly ask for. If you're smart, it's even somewhat affordable to kit out a Macan S. Our tester had $13,000 in options, although the $3,110 Premium Package covers most of the bases. It adds heated front and rear seats, Apple CarPlay, upgraded LED headlights, a Bose audio system, and auto-dimming mirrors. There was also a reasonably priced heated steering wheel. With this package alone, the Macan feels well equipped.

Performance & Handling 8/10

The Porsche Macan S packs 348 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque from a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. It carries a price tag, though, like the more powerful 382-hp BMW X3 M40i and 385-hp Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, two crossovers that are closer competitors to the 375-hp Macan GTS.

Unsurprisingly, the Macan S is slower than these more focused competitors, hitting 60 in 4.9 seconds with our tester's optional Sport Chrono package. We aren't holding that against the car, though. The Macan S feels plenty potent in the real world, with impressive low-end torque and a willingness to rev. That said, your author has always found Porsche's 3.0-liter V6 a little soulless relative to spicier engines. Our test car's lack of a sport exhaust – a must-have item on any Porsche – didn't help matters.

Partnering with this engine is Porsche's seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, one of the best automatic transmissions in the game. In everyday conditions, it's smart and decisive in its actions. Slot the shifter into manual mode and the drive mode selector to Sport Plus and the gearbox increases its haste, executing rapid upshifts and downshifts at the tug of a wheel-mounted paddle. This gearbox is a charmer.

The Macan offers a whole host of performance options, although our tester packed just Porsche's active dampers and the Sport Chrono package. Customers can complement the Macan's agility by pairing the adaptive dampers with an air suspension system, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus and larger tungsten-carbide-coated discs (15.3/14.0-inchers versus 14.2/13.0 on the base Macan S) or carbon-ceramic stoppers.

Honestly, though, that stuff seems a bit superfluous on a Macan. The standard brakes have ample power and predictable pedal feel, all without the squeakiness inherent in some carbon-ceramic setups. And only when routinely attacking twisting roads will the torque vectoring and air suspension get the attention they deserve – the adaptive dampers alone provide the adjustability for occasional blasts through the twisties and enough comfort for everyday driving. You can make the Macan S more engaging to drive using the options list, but you certainly don't need to.

Safety 7/10

Most of the Macan S' safety gear is an optional extra, which is a tough place to start. That said, this car's standard LED headlights, enhanced by an active front lighting system and automatic high beams as part of the Premium package, are excellent. Low-speed automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning are standard.

As for additional safety gear, the Macan is available with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera, and lane-keeping assist. BMW and Mercedes' safety suites are more comprehensive (although they also demand premiums), but the Macan's bones date back a bit further in time, making the absence of more advanced active safety gear more understandable.

Fuel Economy 3/10

The Macan S' twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 returns an EPA-estimated 18 miles per gallon city, 23 highway, and 20 combined. The required Premium fuel exacerbates the Macan's low efficiency score, although it's far from alone in this regard.

The GLC 43 nets similar figures, with 18 mpg city, 24 highway, and 21 combined on 93-octane, while the Macan's corporate sibling, the Audi SQ5, ties the Porsche's scores. As for BMW, somehow, the X3 M40i returns 21 mpg city, a staggering 27 mpg highway, and 23 combined.

Pricing 6/10

Prices for the 2019 Macan start at $50,900, although upgrading to the S increases that figure to $59,400. Along with the added power from the six-cylinder engine, the S adds 19-inch wheels, and stouter six-piston front brake calipers with larger discs. Our Macan carried an as-tested price of $70,990, including a $1,250 destination charge.

Adding $10,000 in equipment is easy on a Porsche, but our lightly equipped Macan S shows you still get a fair amount of gear. The $3,110 Premium package (active front headlights, Bose audio, Apple CarPlay, heated front and rear seats, and auto-dimming mirrors) is a good purchase, as are the adaptive dampers and Sport Chrono pack, each priced at $1,360. As for what we'd add that our tester didn't carry, we'd strongly recommend the $2,930 sport exhaust, as well as adaptive cruise control ($1,170), blind-spot monitoring ($700), and comfort access ($800).

The Macan S undercuts the $62,100 Jaguar F-Pace S and, just barely, the $59,500 GLC 43. BMW comes out swinging with a $55,900 starting price for the X3 M40i, but it's the Audi SQ5 that's the bargain of the bunch at $52,900 to start and $59,500 for the range-topping Prestige trim.

Competitors:

Gallery: 2019 Porsche Macan S: Review

2019 Porsche Macan S

Engine Twin-Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
Output 348 Horsepower / 354 Pound-Feet
Transmission 7-Speed Dual-Clutch
Drive Type All-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH 4.9 Seconds
Maximum speed 157 MPH
Efficiency 18 City / 23 Highway / 20 Combined
Weight 4,293 Pounds
Seating Capacity 5
Cargo Volume 17.6 / 52.9 Cubic Feet
Base Price $58,600
As-Tested Price $70,990