The four-cylinder Macan might be Porsche‘s entry-level SUV, but its price point puts it right at the heart of the sporty, four-cylinder premium compact SUV segment. That Porsche badge brings a lot with it: a reputation for engineering excellence and a prestige earned over decades of building one of the world’s most iconic sports cars. But does it bring enough to beat stylish and similarly priced rivals from Mercedes and Land Rover: the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic Coupe and the Range Rover Evoque HSE R-Dynamic P300?
We’ve yet to get all three together, wheel to wheel on the test track, to find out for certain. But a quick look at the facts and the numbers gives us a pretty good idea of each vehicle’s relative strengths and weaknesses. Keep reading to find out how these three small luxury SUVs stack up.
Size and Design
In terms of size, the Macan sits between the slightly large GLC Coupe and noticeably smaller Evoque. Overall length is 184.3 inches, compared with the GLC Coupe’s 186.3 inches and the Evoque’s 172.1-inch length. At 76.1 inches, the Macan is the widest of the three, with the GLC Coupe measuring 74.4 inches and the Evoque 75.0 inches. The Macan’s overall height is 63.9 inches, making it almost an inch taller than the low-slung GLC Coupe, and 1 inch lower than the high-riding Evoque. The Mercedes and Range Rover have 5.7 and 8.3 inches of ground clearance, respectively, compared with the Macan’s 8.0 inches.
The GLC Coupe boasts the longest wheelbase (113.1 inches versus the Macan’s 110.5 inches and the Evoque’s 105.6) and thus offers the most room for rear-seat passengers. But it has less load carrying capacity than the Porsche at 17.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 49.9 cubes with the seats folded versus the Macan’s 17.7 and 53.0 cubes. Surprisingly, the Mercedes offers significantly less cargo capacity than the smaller Range Rover (at 21.5 and 50.5 cubic feet).
Visually refreshed for the 2019 model year, the Macan shares key styling elements with the rest of the Porsche lineup, including the four-point DRLs up front and the full-width taillight graphic at the rear. As with all modern Porsches, the sheetmetal’s form language—softly contoured yet with carefully controlled surfaces—subtly references the 911. It looks … like a Porsche.
Completely redesigned for the 2020 model year, replacing a vehicle that has sold almost 800,000 units worldwide, the new Evoque offers a smoother, sleeker, more reductive take on its predecessor’s pert proportions. Beautifully rendered and lovingly detailed, it looks as if it has been driven straight out of the design studio. Of the three, it’s the most modern take on the genre.
The GLC 300 Coupe shares the same basic front clip as the regular GLC 300, but it gets a sportier, single bar grille. From the base of the A-pillar back, however, the sheetmetal is unique. It’s difficult to make something as tall and bulky as an SUV look as svelte and sexy as a low-slung coupe. However, although the GLC Coupe carries off the idea with much more élan than its larger GLE Coupe sibling, from some angles it still looks slightly bloated and overblown.
Performance and Dynamics
All three SUVs are powered by 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Contrary to expectations, perhaps, the Macan’s engine is the least powerful of the three, developing 248 hp from 5,000 rpm to 6,750 rpm, compared with the GLC Coupe’s 255 hp at 5,000 rpm and the Evoque P300’s 296 hp at 5,500 rpm. The Porsche’s torque output of 273 lb-ft is identical to that of the Mercedes but shy of the 295 lb-ft the Range Rover’s engine develops.
But the headline numbers don’t tell the full story. According to manufacturer numbers, the 4,099-pound Macan is just as quick to 60 mph as the 4,028-pound GLC Coupe, taking 6.3 seconds for the sprint. And the Evoque, despite its superior power and torque, took a surprisingly lethargic 8.3 seconds to get to 60 mph during testing for our 2020 SUV of the Year evaluations. Claimed top speeds for all three are impressive for compact SUVs: 142 mph for the Porsche, 147 mph for the Mercedes, and 150 mph for the Range Rover.
The Evoque’s mass—our tester tipped the scales at 4,394 pounds—was undoubtedly a factor in its relatively sluggish performance on the track. The Macan, by contrast, punches above its weight, helped by the fact that its engine delivers its peak power for 1,750 rpm longer than the GLC Coupe’s engine and 1,250 rpm more than the Evoque’s, and that its seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission is more responsive than the nine-speed automatics in the other two vehicles.
All three vehicles are built on different architecture formats. The Mercedes shares its bones with the rear-drive C-Class, and the Porsche is built on a small version of MLB, the curious Audi-sourced architecture that accommodates the brand’s trademark longitudinally mounted engine and front-drive/Quattro driveline. The Evoque rolls on JLR’s new Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA), a mixed-metal platform constructed of regular and high-strength steel, aluminum, and magnesium that’s designed around transverse-mounted engines and allows a lower-cost front-drive layout as well as all-wheel drive.
The Range Rover thus has more of its mass (59 percent) over the front axle than the other two. Relatively stiff suspension helps control excessive understeer, but even so, it’s not as enjoyable on a winding road as the better-balanced and better-riding Porsche. The Macan also benefits from a driveline that routinely funnels as much of the drive as possible to the rear axle—the exact opposite of the Evoque, which automatically cuts drive to the rear axle whenever it can to improve fuel efficiency. In between the two is the Mercedes, which also rides better than the Evoque but doesn’t steer with the same clarity as the Porsche, or grip as concisely through the corners.
Where the Range Rover beats the other two, however, is off-road. With more ground clearance and better approach and departure angles, the Evoque will confidently go further into the boonies than either the Porsche or the Mercedes. Order the Macan with height-adjustable air suspension (a $2,750 option), and ground clearance can be increased to 9.0 inches in off-road mode, 0.7 inch more than the Evoque. But it still won’t match the Range Rover’s approach angle (18.5 degrees versus 19.5 degrees), departure angle (25.3 degrees versus 30.6 degrees), or ramp over angle (18.8 degrees versus 20.7 degrees). And although it can wade through 13.3 inches of water—up from 11.8 inches for the standard steel-spring Macan—the Evoque can tackle pools up to 23.6 inches deep.
Efficiency: MPG and Range
Here’s where the nine-speed transmissions in the Mercedes and Range Rover pay off. According to the EPA, the GLC 300 Coupe is the most efficient of the three, rated at 21/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined.
The Evoque is rated at 21/26/23 mpg. Those numbers aren’t super impressive, given the P300 is a mild hybrid. Comprising a 14.7-hp belt-integrated starter-generator that harvests energy during deceleration phases and stores it in a small underfloor battery, the 48-volt system is claimed to deliver a 6 percent improvement in fuel efficiency, with the e-motor providing extra torque fill during regular driving. But the benefits are hard to determine, either on the road or at the pump.
The Macan works its engine harder, and it shows with EPA ratings of 19/23/21 mpg. But the Porsche has the biggest gas tank of the three, being fitted with the 19.8-gallon item that’s available as an option in Europe and other markets, giving a theoretical highway cruising range of about 455 miles. That’s still less than either the Mercedes (487 miles) or the Range Rover (460 miles), which are fitted with 17.4-gallon and 17.7-gallon gas tanks, respectively.
With a base price of $52,250, the Macan is the cheapest new Porsche you can buy. For that you get the SUV that is far and away the driver’s choice of this bunch, but not much else. Although the Porsche does come with the best infotainment system of this trio, stuff that’s standard on the other two—even basics like heated front seats and keyless entry, never mind fashion items like 19-inch (Mercedes) or 20-inch (Range Rover) wheels—costs extra. In fact, if the Macan were specified to have a similar level of equipment as the $56,795 Evoque HSE R-Dynamic, which comes standard with high-tech goodies such as adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, you’d be looking at spending more than $67,000.
In terms of base price, the $50,995 GLC 300 Coupe easily looks like the value buy. But although you might get flashier wheels than the Macan, you don’t get an infotainment system with the same level of functionality. And when you look carefully at the standard equipment list, you’ll soon find you’d have to spend almost $58,000 for a GLC 300 Coupe fitted out to the same level as the $56,795 Evoque.