Porsche invited GTspirit to Morocco to drive their all new Macan through the amazing scenery around the large city of Marrakech. It was a surreal experience and one that we will never forget. Having arrived in the North African country, it became apparent that the heat and absence of moisture in the air meant that Morocco would present any motor vehicle with a fight for survival in its relentless furnace.
Having acclimatised, it was time to get behind the wheel of the Macan, a car that we have driven before, but never in an environment where we could put the all-wheel-drive systems properly to the test.
In normal mode the Macan feels rather dull, no bad thing as the car is supple and predictable, the ease and relaxed feel was comparable to eco pro mode in recent BMWs. The steering was slightly loose off-centre and the throttle response was comfort oriented.
Sport mode could not be more different! The car comes alive and behaves like any other Porsche with sharp steering and direct throttle response. The suspension stiffens and the Macan becomes a balanced machine that feels very sporty. The optional air suspension lowers car by 15mm for better aerodynamics and handling.
The only aspect of disappointment was the gearbox, when using the paddles for shifting there was a lack of connection, you do not feel the car shifting, there is no bucking, or as we have seen from Audi’s RS6, an aural treat. This was still absent in sport+ mode. On the flip-side, this meant that the car was comfortable even when being driven in gusto.
Offroad mode lifts the vehicle 40mm making the Macan perfect for gravel roads, we were conscious of damaging the sculpted front end but this was not an issue. The increased distance from the road also softened the blows that would have been felt courtesy of the cavernous pot-holes that we can across. We very much enjoyed blasting across the unpaved roads in the offroad mode! Our test car had the optional 21″ wheels which handled the offroad action very well.
Inside its all typical Porsche, no bad thing. It is bright and inviting, the ergonomics are certainly some of the best we have seen in this sector, that said we did miss a central control system such as BMWs iDrive. Instead there is a large touch screen that we found a little distracting whilst focusing on the bumpy Moroccan roads. There is plenty of space in the cabin but this has not encroached into the trunk space, a comfortable car that is great for a family journey. For the first time, Porsche combined a multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters. This is something that Porsche introduced directly through the 918 program. Prior to this, there was the option either of a multifunction steering wheel or paddles, not the two together. One of the highlights is the driving position, it is rather bizarre as it is somewhat similar to the 911!
The styling is modern and clean. There are carbon fibre door panels, and astonishingly beautiful 3-dimensional rear lights which suit the overall shape of the car. The S models are kitted with four round exhaust pipes, quad square pipes are fitted to the Turbo making it look even more aggressive.
Enough of the car, back to the tour! We arrived in Marrakech around noon, checked in at the amazing La Mamounia Hotel and received the keys to a silver Porsche Macan S with delectable 21″ wheels. Since we were mega excited to drive this little SUV through Moroccos beautiful scenery we immediately started in the direction of the quiet roads outside of Marrakech for some country side action. We promptly failed as the traffic in Marrakech is astonishing, there are simply no traffic rules. Wait, there is one: first come, first swerve! You have to be extremely cautious as there are droves of little bikes and mopeds which buzz around like little insects whizzing around you! The Macan does a great job in this busy built up environment. It is very agile and surprisingly easy to weave in and out of traffic. The typical SUV high seating position also gives you a good view on the surrounding area.
As soon as we are out of the city we pushed the car from 0-100 km/h, the results were rather impressive for a car with off-road abilities. As you may know, you do not really feel the speed in modern cars like we did in old cars. The noise in the cabin of the car, even on the bad Moroccan streets, is very quiet. As a consequence we did not notice that we were blasting down the road at over 135km/h in a 80km/h zone until we saw the police with a laser pistol! Fortunately they did not pull us over, but instead just marvelled at the new Porsche, a rare sight in the country.
The further we delved into the wilderness the more testing the terrain became. The roads were only partially paved with a coating of gravel. As a result it was very difficult to tell just how much grip we actually had, so we took it easy and enjoyed the amazing landscape instead of pretending to be on a rally stage! On the way back to the hotel we had the chance to enjoy the amazing sunset which threw an orange glow over the landscape making it even more beautiful than it already was!
Having woken up unbelievably early it was time to hit the road again. Some locals told us that in the middle of Atlas-hills, at a height around 3000m, was a ski resort, a great location to photograph the aesthetically pleasing Macan. Starting at our hotel we had to conquer the busy traffic yet again!
As soon as we got out of the city and further into the mountains we noticed local people selling homemade jewels and other trinkets whenever we stopped the Macan. With the distance to Marrakech rising, it became apparent that people lived in poorer conditions as habitation became more and more sparse. Clusters of people had built make-shift houses on the side or astonishingly steep hill sides.
People seemed to make money with stones which they would source in the steep mountains and transport with donkeys to markets and other points of sale. Business seemed slow and the local loitered in the heat of the sun. We felt somewhat humbled cruising the trails in the luxurious Macan.
On the mountain, at around 2500m, we stopped at the ski resort for a few photos. We could not believe that it was possible to ski there, the only lift looked as if it was from the 19th century and snow was in short supply. Despite this, people were trying to persuade us to try skiing there. We would have loved to do so if our schedule wasn’t that tight…next time!
Trying to explore the area we found a mud hole which we simply had to use for a few action shots, as you can see, it certainly got messy! Doing this we realized again how good the car actually handles in difficult offroad terrain.
Driving back down the curvy mountain road we passed a dry dessert on the way back to Marrakech where Porsche arranged some berber-tents to be erected in the middle of wilderness for us to have lunch. They emerged to be the perfect photo location and worked very well with the Macan.
The day ended beautifully with the sunset setting over the desert and the Macan. A huge thanks to Porsche for hosting GTspirit in Morocco!
Fantastic car and nice trip in which to test it. One minor point though "or as we have seen from Audi’s RS6, an oral treat.".Is this meant to be "Aural" or is it a new Porsche option i need to order??? ;)