Looking for some German refinement in your compact SUV? We compared the Audi Q5 and the Porsche Macan.
Compact SUVs are currently all the rage, and the luxury segment of these vehicles is no exception. The Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan are both their manufacturer’s most popular model with each accounting for over 30% of total sales in 2018. And with good reason, zee Germans have achieved something with the Q5 and Macan, that is, accurately translating the dynamics of a sports sedan to a crossover. No mean feat, and all the more laudable because most non-luxury brands appear happy to churn out crossovers that wantonly compromise the quality of the driving experience.
It shouldn’t surprise that both the Q5 and Macan are excellent vehicles, worthy of any buyer’s consideration. What then sets these two apart? Let’s find out.
Rarely have we done a head-to-head review where the two combatants were so evenly matched. The Q5 and Macan have nearly identical numbers across all the most salient criteria. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering both brands are owned by Volkswagen.
The powertrains also run neck and neck. The Q5 starts with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 248hp and 273 lb. ft. of torque paired with a 7-speed automatic. The base Macan also has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with the same hp and torque outputs and a 7-speed auto. Jumping up to a 3.0-liter V-6, the Q5 gets a new 8-speed while the Macan stays with the same 7-speed. The horsepower numbers also keep pace with the Q5’s 349hp and 369 lb. ft. and the Macan’s 348hp and 352 lb. ft. There is a level above this for both, the Macan Turbo has a 2.7L twin-turbo V-6 (434hp) but the Q5 TDI hybrid-diesel with its 347hp and a serious 517 lb. ft. is not available in the US. Therefore, we restrict our comparison, apples to apples, with the 2.0 and 3.0s available in both vehicles.
Points of minor departure can be found when examining the mpg numbers. The Q5 nets 22 city and 27 highway while the Macan dips a bit lower at 19 city and 23 highway. So, a slight edge for the Audi here.
Then there’s the cargo capacity and passenger room. The Q5 edges out the Macan on cargo with 25.1 cu. ft. with the rear seats in use and 53.1 cu. ft. at maximum compared to the Macan’s 17.6 cu. ft. and 52.9 with the seats down. Likewise, the rear seat of the Macan was decidedly more cramped than the Q5.
Both of these SUVs feature almost identical powertrains producing almost identical 0-60 times, there is ample grunt from either of the two. Both come with standard AWD. The difference in performance then comes down to the components and tuning of the suspension.
The Q5 is a pleasure to drive. Steering is pinpoint accurate. Overall, the Q5 manages a balance of sportiness, comfort, and actual off-road ability. Audi’s drive select, featuring Comfort, Automatic, Dynamic, Off-road, and Individual settings, only serves to augment an already excellent driving experience. There’s almost no body roll to speak of and cornering closely resembles a sports sedan. The suspension itself provides a comfortable, unperturbed ride no matter the road you’re on, and it can be upgraded with adaptive dampers and an air suspension. The Q5 is a pleasing blend of athleticism and comfort.
As good as the Q5 is from behind the driver’s seat, the Macan is another step above. It too has an optional multi-mode adaptive damping system. Set firm or soft the suspension is stiffer than the Q5, but it also makes for a more engaged driving experience. The trade-off here is well worth it (you’re in a Porsche for a reason, right?) as the Macan delivers where it counts. So much so that, in the case of the Macan, buying a crossover rather than a midengined sports car doesn’t really feel like the major sacrifice it’s imagined to be. Little wonder its so popular.
The Audi lives up to its luxury bona fides with an interior befitting the name. Design here is ultra-modern and chic without being too radical. Seating is comfortably positioned and well-bolstered. And materials are all high quality, including standard leather seating. The Q5 sets the bar for the segment when it comes to interior comforts.
The Macan isn’t quite as sumptuously appointed or sleekly designed as the Q5, but it’s still a Porsche and a driver’s car at heart. Controls are well positioned, including the signature left-handed ignition button. And while the base is pretty spartan by luxury standards, there’s plenty of up-selling from Porsche that can help properly personalize your Macan.
Both the Q5 and Macan offer the latest and greatest in automotive tech.
Starting with the Audi, the Q5 provides an elegant technological solution to nearly every problem. Of course, there’s a touchscreen (7.0 or 8.3 inch), but there are also dials for some welcomed haptic feedback. Even more exciting is Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster, a 12.3-inch display that, in addition to traditional readouts, provides audio, phone, and Google-Earth powered navigation. Another interesting tech feature is the MMI touchpad with hand-writing recognition, which allows the driver to write out addresses for navigation rather than more laboriously hunt-and-pecking letter by letter. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard.
In the Macan, we have what might be the best infotainment software around. A large 10.9 inch touchscreen features super sharp resolution for Google-Earth navigation. The PCM (Porsche Communication Management) infotainment system allows for you to customize your screen to position items where you find them most convenient. Unfortunately, like most desirable features on the Macan, Apple CarPlay doesn’t come standard (a $350 ding for that) and Android Auto remains unavailable.
Audi offers the Q5 in three aptly titled trim levels: the Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. Premium starts out with that standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 18” wheels, and Audi’s pre sense basic and pre sense city providing vehicle and pedestrian sensing. The Premium Plus adds the MMI navigation and radio along with additional safety tech features. The aptly named Prestige allows access to the Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker stereo system, a heads-up dash display, and adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist. They are priced as follows: Premium $43,300, Premium Plus $49,950, and Prestige $53,700.
The Macan comes in two basic trims the Macan and Macan S. The 10.9-inch infotainment touchscreen comes standard along with 4 USB ports, and tri-zone automatic climate control. The Premium package adds a 14-speaker Bose stereo, Apple CarPlay, and auto-dimming lights. The Premium Plus package tops on heated front and rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, and keyless entry and drive. The Macan S adds the 3.0-liter motor and, as is the case with Porsche, most of the good stuff can be added a la carte, so expect to tack on a good $8,000-$12,000 from the initial sticker price to get all your “must-haves”. The Macan starts at $49,900 and the Macan S at $58,600.
While these prices appear comparable, you’ll likely be spending more on the Porsche when all is said and done as so many key safety and tech features (example no. 1 Apple CarPlay) come at an additional cost.
The differences between the Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan may appear at first blush to be merely cosmetic. And with both vehicles offering an attractive silhouette, so it’s really up to your individual taste. However, the Macan sets itself apart as the more exciting daily driver. The Q5 nudges ahead on comfort and luxury design as well as cargo and passenger space, but if you’re forgoing the sports sedan for something taller the Macan is the lesser sacrifice. The Q5 can pamper you, but the Macan is the one to excite you. In fact, the Macan proves conclusively that crossovers don’t have to be boring.