2023 Porsche Macan T: Dexterity Over Strength

Strong points
  • The T model comes with GTS parts without the GTS price
  • Fun-to-drive
  • Highly customizable
Weak points
  • The T is only available with the four cylinder engine
  • Heated seats are optional
Full report

The Macan is the first Porsche SUV to get the T badge, slotting between the base model – which is at this time the most affordable Porsche model in the catalogue - and the Macan S. The T designation at Porsche stands for Touring and dates back to the homologation of the 911 T as a touring car in 1968. Porsche revived the T variant with the 991-generation 911 Carrera T, aiming to please purists who want equipment that enhances handling and driving dynamics, without the heavy luxuries and commodities. Weight has been cut everywhere on the 911 T. At launch, the manufacturer even offered straps for interior door handles to shave a few pounds (and, let’s admit it, they looked pretty cool, too).

Earlier last year, The Car Guide was given the opportunity to spec a 2023 Macan T destined for the Canadian press fleet. While the idea was to build it as simple as possible to follow the affordable/performance philosophy behind the T badge, our Macan also had to be properly equipped to survive our Canadian winter. Given the endless choice of equipment packages and options in the Porsche catalogue, the experience, although thoroughly enriching, wasn’t as easy as it seemed!

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

A GTS, Without the Big Power Numbers

One could say that the biggest void in the Macan T is the fact that the only choice of powertrain resides in the four-cylinder, 2.0 L turbocharged engine with an output of 261 horsepower. It’s not as potent as the six cylinder in the S and GTS versions of the Macan, but it can still hold its own in most daily situations. And if it doesn’t have the grunt and the zip that the very well-calibrated turbo six, it compensates by making the Macan lighter and more balanced with less weight in the front.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

Leave the drive selector in Normal mode and you’ll be served with a very ‘normal’ drive - for a Porsche. But twist it in Sport mode and the Macan gets tighter, more responsive and ready to tackle some twisty roads.

One of the things we love about the T model is that, even though it is dangerously close the base model, it comes with the almighty Sport Chrono package. We took the liberty to stack more goodies from the performance end of the options catalogue, like the Porsche Active Suspension Management system ($1,590), the Torque Vectoring Plus System ($1,700), and even the sport exhaust ($2,260).

The choice of hardware paid off during our test drive, as the Macan showed us a few tricks in terms of agility and handling we didn’t think it could, even on horrible winter roads and despite our thirst for more performance.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

A Snug Interior

Porsche Press fleets are crowded with red cars, and a silver or black Porsche would just be plain boring. So a paint-to-sample option was highly suggested by Porsche, an element that is totally not necessary for performance but still pretty cool to look into if you’re looking for singularity. So we went with Speed Yellow, a colour that fits in perfectly with the “T” philosophy, without copying the monochrome crowd of luxury compact SUVs.

Although smaller than rivals in terms of cargo space and room for passengers, we loved the level of comfort provided by our Macan. And the T model is fitted with standard GTS seats. These felt perfectly snug for a normal-sized person, but could feel tight for huskier drivers. The GTS seats are cloth with a striped pattern, we thought the carbon package ($1,700) would be a perfect match for them.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

It’s a shame that heated seats are an option on the Macan T - a $660 option that is. But, at least you have all four seats (front and rear) and that price. We particularly like the driving position and the small, 911-style steering wheel on the Macan, which provides more confidence on the road and has a dynamic/sporty it needs to make you feel like you’re driving a Porsche.  

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

Slick and sporty, the Macan T brings better driving dynamics to the table compared to other close-to-base models out there in the segment. And even if we could spend all day bashing the Porsche options catalogue, the price tag isn’t that scary in the end. Without our $13,000 paint-to-sample paint job, and adding some side skirts and other less useful elements like the Sport Design Fuel Cap at $190, this Macan T could’ve been ours for $77,000. In the end, the T letter adds a dose of excitement to the base Macan without breaking the bank in half.

LISTEN: 2023 Porsche Macan T test drive on The Car Guide Podcast

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