For 2023, the sports car brand from Stuttgart added to its 2022 model line with a new iteration of its compact SUV. The 2023 Macan T — T for Touring — has less power but might just be an overall better package than the top-spec Macan GTS.
Before we start, let me just say I love horsepower. The more, the better. Big engines with all the electrified, turbocharged goodies to provide me with eleventeen thousand million horsepower are the best.
But, one way or the other, you do pay for power. Costs usually come in the form of fuel consumption, packaging needs, heat, and weight. It’s almost always worth it. Almost. Once in a while, however, you have to ask: Is it?
The 2023 Porsche Macan T forces such a ponder. Why? Because it ties in with the base Macan for the least powerful version offered.
In short: The 2023 Porsche Macan T is more than 100 horsepower down from the next-level Macan S and is 173 fewer than the top-of-the-line GTS. And yet, from behind the wheel, the Macan T feels engaged, athletic, and spritely. It’s perhaps the most fun Macan you can get. Let me explain.
2023 Porsche Macan T Review
‘Least Powerful’ Is Relative
Porsche updated its entire Macan model line in 2022, and T versions of the 911 and 718 (both Boxster and Cayman) already exist. Generally speaking, Touring models use the base engine but get an upgraded suspension.
Yes, Porsche kept the same turbocharged 2.0L inline-four-cylinder engine of the base Macan in the T. But it also increased the output of that engine last year to a more than respectable 261 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
For context, that’s very close to the 265 horsepower available in the much bigger, three-row 2023 Toyota Highlander. And torque? You’re just 15 pound-feet shy of the big Japanese family hauler.
Moreover, Porsche mounted up a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission for rocket-fast shifts. Also, all Macans are all-wheel-drive, meaning Porsche provided plenty of traction for the Macan T to accelerate — even with launch control.
Yup. Launch Control is part of the Sport Chrono package — a $1,220 option in the uplevel Macan S, but standard here on the T. It’s controlled by a dial mounted on the steering wheel. It includes Sport+ and Individual drive modes instead of just Normal and Sport.
You also get a Sport Response button in the center of the dial. This gives you 20 seconds of maximum available powertrain capability, regardless of drive mode settings and launch control.
With the dial turned to Sport+, simply come to a stop, press the brake hard with your left foot, and bury the throttle with your right. The turbo four quickly revs up to 5,200 rpm, ready to pounce. Release the brake. Whack! Your head flings back to the headrest, and your body sinks into the seat.
The Macan T skates off with nary a hint of wheelspin and surges past 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Quick! Keep your foot in it, and Porsche’s base engine compact SUV will hit 144 mph.
Porsche Macan: Compact SUV, Proper Handling Chops
If Porsche didn’t upgrade the engine, what justifies the price difference to the base Macan? The suspension. And, yeah, I know this is a compact crossover SUV. But the Macan T drives just like a hot hatch. A seriously good one at that.
To start, Porsche mounted adjustable shock absorbers — Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). Engineers also tuned the suspension with more of an eye toward handling than ride.
Furthermore, more power can be transferred to the rear axle than the base model, which adds to the fun driving feel.
You can also option the Macan T with an adaptive air suspension system for $1,390. That lowers the Macan 0.4 inches, adds stiffer anti-roll bars, and marries nicely with the standard adjustable shocks.
The options list includes Porsche Torque Vectoring (PVT) Plus. This feature sends even more power rearward and encourages rotation in a corner when you use the skinny pedal judicially.
With those option boxes ticked, the chassis underneath the Macan T is as good as it gets. Right there with the Macan GTS, even with all its option boxes ticked.
Macan T: Scales Don’t Lie
All the above means you can bring the chassis up to Macan GTS levels. But the T keeps one very important trick up its sleeve. The 2.0L four-cylinder engine under its hood weighs 129 fewer pounds than the 2.9L V6 under the GTS’s hood. And all of that weight comes off the front axle. That gives the Macan T two big advantages.
First, better front-to-rear weight distribution. With the Macan T carrying a lighter nose, it’s easier to balance the chassis. Meaning it’s easier to make the car feel fun and react quickly to a driver’s inputs without making the suspension rock hard and sacrificing the ride.
Second, improved steering response. Quite simply, there’s less weight to resist turning the front wheels left to right, so they do so more quickly and easily.
Less weight offsets a bit of the weight-to-power disadvantage, too, actually. You go from 261 to 434 horsepower between the T and the GTS, but curb weight also increases from 4,187 to 4,400 pounds. That means 16.0:1 pounds per horsepower versus 10.1:1.
If the T weighed as much as the GTS, it would lug around 16.9 pounds per horsepower. So, yes, the GTS is way quicker. But, you know, it’s something. Besides, that’s a large advantage on a straight.
Cornering Fun & Confidence
The story changes as the going gets twisty. The T takes driving very seriously indeed. With much the same equipment available as the GTS but with a leaner waistline, the T fills the driver with confidence through the corners and feels good while doing it.
You get instant response from the wheel as you turn in for a corner. With very little weight, the T heads toward the apex willingly and without hesitation. The rear axle happily follows suit, giving the driver good chassis balance along the way.
It feels more like a tall Volkswagen GTI than a quick Volkswagen Tiguan.
Even with tires howling for mercy, the air suspension holds the body level, giving you a lot of confidence to feed power in early. As you do, Porsche’s fancy differential does fancy differential things to make it pretty easy for the rear end to wiggle at corner exit.
It’s a smooth transition, not jarring or alarming. Just a fun few degrees of drift as you ask for full boogie from the turbo-four. Hustling towards the next corner, you feel like a driving hero.
When real life sets in, and you need to behave like a mere mortal for a while — commuting, running errands, etc. — just spin the dial to normal drive mode and enjoy a remarkably pleasant ride. Those adjustable shocks and springs do work both ways.
Porsche Macan T: Visually Speaking
The Macan T does roll on 20-inch wheels — an inch larger than the base model.
Porsche also paints the front trim, rear logos, roof spoiler, side-view mirror covers, and the lower side accent pieces (which Porsche calls side blades) a special gray paint. The effect is subtle but just enough to declare the T a bit more … extra.
Inside, you get a black aluminum Macan T kickplate at the base of the door and contrast stitching on the seats. The front seats are heated and have the Porsche crest embossed into the headrests.
Your hands rest on what Porsche calls a multifunction heated GT Sport steering wheel. The heated part is particularly pleasant for us northern Midwest folk.
Not exclusive to the T, but nice to have is the 10.9-inch center console touchscreen with wireless Apple Carplay. Haptic touch controls manage the dual climate control system and heated seats. It’s also quiet inside on the interstate.
The Macan is spacious enough to lay most bicycles flat, as long as you fold the second-row seats down. It’s 53 cubic feet of space if you do and 17 cubic feet with them up.
2023 Macan T: The Price of Power
No Porsche is cheap. The least expensive Macan you can buy still starts at $58,950. Adding the letter T adds $5,600 to the price, sneaking in just under $65,000.
Less expensive compact crossovers definitely still eke out good driving satisfaction. The Mazda CX-50 is a great example.
But the Macan T also provides a compelling combination of usefulness, practicality, luxury, and driving satisfaction. And all in a relatively unassuming package I personally find majestic. Then again, I do like eleventeen thousand million horsepower, too. Still pondering…