The Cayenne is the original Porsche mid-size SUV, with its production dating back to 2002. As demand for mid-size SUV’s grew, Porsche expanded their line in 2014 with the Macan. The Macan was originally named the “Cajun” which stood for Cayenne Junior. Both Porsche’s are still in production today, with the Cayenne currently in its third generation, while the Macan is still in its first.
The Cayenne currently has about 10 different models, ranging from the base model, to the Platinum, S, Turbo, Turbo S, Turbo GTS, and so on. Additionally, there are also a number of Hybrid electric models as well. And to make things more confusing, it is also produced in a “Coupe” version which is slightly smaller and more sleek than the SUV versions. The Macan on the other hand is a bit more simplistic with 4 four models: base, T, S, and GTS.
With multiple generations and dozens of different models, which is better? The Porsche Macan or the Cayenne? This guide will discuss the difference between the Macan and Cayenne, pricing, engine options, performance, reliability, and everything in between.
Porsche Macan vs Cayenne – What’s the Difference?
Before we jump into more details, we want to lay the landscape on the primary differences between the Cayenne and Macan. With all the different models, generations, and engine options things can get a little confusing. So let’s discuss the high-level differences between the two.
The Macan is a slightly smaller and more affordable version of the Cayenne. In comparable terms, it is similar to an X5 vs X3 for BMW’s. The Macan was designed to be a bit sportier than the Cayenne, which was intended to be more of a luxury offering.
Both vehicles have the same number of seats, so the sizing difference is most noticeable in legroom, headspace, and trunk space. The back seats in the Macan are going to offer slightly less room for big and tall adults, as well as less head clearance since the Macan is more sleek and compact. However, for young children and teenagers, space shouldn’t be a huge issue. The Macan does have slightly less trunk space but it’s also not a huge difference.
Until 2018 it was a trade-off between space and looks. The Cayenne has more space but the Macan has a more sleek and sporty appeal. However, for the 3rd Gen Cayenne’s, Porsche released a Coupe version. The Cayenne Coupe’s are just barely bigger than the Macan while also offering a lot more in the way of performance.
If you have a big family a need the space, the Cayenne is the way to go. If you want a sportier, more sleek looking SUV and space isn’t the issue then the Macan (or a Cayenne Coupe) is a good option.
Cayenne vs Macan Performance
Despite the Cayenne being a larger and more luxurious vehicle, it also offers more performance than the Macan. Current base model Macan’s use a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine whereas the Cayenne base models uses a 3.0L turbo 6-cylinder. The top model Macan Turbo uses a 3.6L twin-turbo 6-cylinder, whereas the top model Cayenne Turbo GTS has a 4.0L twin-turbo 8-cylinder that produces nearly 650hp.
Additionally, the 0-60mph time on the Macan GTS are 4.3 seconds. This is actually in line with the Cayenne GTS which clocks 4.5 seconds for the SUV version, and 4.2 seconds with the Coupe version. The reason the Macan keeps up is because it is about 500lbs lighter. However, the difference is that the Macan maxes out at 4.3 seconds whereas the Cayenne Turbo GT can log a 3.1 second 0-60mph. The caveat being the Turbo GT is about $100,000 more expensive than the Macan GTS.
Overall, all new Cayenne models have bigger engines and more horsepower than their equivalent Macan models. The one caveat is that a Macan will offer better performance than a first gen Cayenne unless you get the Turbo or Turbo S version. All Macan models are turbocharged which makes them more tunable and power-capable compared to the earlier, naturally-aspirated Cayennes.
Price point is probably the biggest difference between the two. For the third-generation 9YA, the Cayenne now comes in a Coupe format. This coupe style is a bit more sleek and sporty, similar to the Macan. So, if you want the sharper and sportier looking Porsche, you now have two options with the Cayenne Coupe and Macan. However, which is the best for you is going to be dependent on budget as the Cayenne’s are a good bit more expensive.
A Macan starts around $55,000 for a base model, and $80,000 for its most expensive model, the GTS. A Cayenne base model starts around $69,000 and ranges upwards of $180,000.
Overall: the Macan is a smaller, sportier but less powerful, more affordable version of the Cayenne.
Macan and Cayenne Generations
Despite the Macan being more affordable, you can find a Cayenne for a lower price than a Macan. This is because the Cayenne has been around for 20 years and the Macan has only been around for 8. Therefore, when choosing between the two, the big question is do you get an older Cayenne, or a newer Macan at the same price point?
Understanding the different generations is helpful in determining what the best fit for you is.
- 1st Generation 955/957 Cayenne
- Base, S, GTS, Turbo, Turbo S, and Diesel
- 2nd Generation 958 Cayenne
- Base, S, S Hybrid, S E-Hybrid, Turbo, Turbo S, Diesel, S Diesel
- 3rd Generation 9YA Cayenne
- Base, E-Hybrid, S, GTS, Turbo, Turbo S, Turbo S E-Hybrid, Turbo GT
- Available in both SUV and Coupe versions, various special editions like the Platinum
- 1st Generation 95B Macan
- Base, S, T, GTS, Turbo, GTS
- Turbo model was discontinued in 2021 and replaced by the GTS as the new top model
Between all of the generations and various models, there are tons of options to choose from with Cayenne’s. Which makes it a bit difficult to specifically compare the Cayenne to the Macan. However, we’re going to do our best to differentiate your options by price point.
Macan vs Cayenne Options by Price
Cayenne’s are more expensive brand new. However, a 2002 Cayenne will be a lot cheaper than any Macan available. We’re going to list out what your options are when it comes to price point. These are more general price points. You can get a first gen Cayenne for $20,000, but you aren’t getting a first gen Turbo S for $20,000 so keep that in mind.
$20,000 and Under Budget
Unfortunately, the entry level price any Porsche isn’t necessarily the most affordable. $20,000 isn’t going to give you a whole lot of options for a Cayenne (and zero options for a Macan). Here are your options at this price point:
- 1st Gen 955 Cayenne
- Base models in the $10k-$15k price point (usually ~100k miles)
- S models in $15k-$20k price point (usually ~100k miles)
- Might get lucky and get a GTS for ~$20k
Unfortunately, out of 157 Cayenne’s within 500 miles of me, there are only 8 that fall under the $20k price point. Most are base and S models from 2006-2009 that have 100k or more miles. If I expand my search nationwide, you can find some sub $10k Cayenne’s but they are all 2004-2006 models with 200k+ miles on them which will be a money pit.
Ultimately, at the $20k budget you will be looking at an old, high mileage Cayenne. Not the worst thing, but keep in mind repairs and maintenance on Porsche’s are expensive and anything over the 100k and 15 year age mark is when a lot of common repairs start popping up.
$35,000 and Under Budget
$30k is about the entry price for a Macan. A few can be found in the $25k-$30k price point but expect 100,000+ miles on them.
- 1st Gen 955 Cayenne
- Just about any first gen model at this price point (Turbo and Turbo S models will be high mileage)
- 2nd Gen 958 Cayenne
- Base, S, and Diesel models with reasonable mileage
- GTS and Turbo models with 100k+ miles
- 95B Macan
- Mostly 2014-2016 Base models
- Base models can be found with 40,000-70,000 miles on them at this price
- A few Macan S models available but all will have 70,000+ miles
$60,000 and Under Budget
Jumping from $35k to $60k is a big jump. There are a lot of options in between like newer lower mileage cars, or higher trim’s and so on. However, $60k is about the price point where you can get a new Macan, but not a new Cayenne.
- New 95B Macan
- New Macan’s start at $54k. So you could theoretically get a new one for under $60k, albeit without really any options.
- Used 95B Macan
- 1-2yr old low mileage base models
- 2-4yr old low mileage S and GTS models
- Turbo models with slightly higher mileage (60k+)
- 1st Gen 955 Cayenne
- Just about anything you want
- 2nd Gen 958 Cayenne
- Just about anything you want
- Newest 958’s in highest trims like Turbo/Turbo S will have more miles on them
- 3rg Gen 9YA Cayenne
- Base models with mileage ranging from 30k-100k
Getting a 3rd gen Cayenne in the S trim or higher is going to run you beyond the $60k price point. However, at this price point you have tons of options both in the Cayenne and Macan markets. It mostly comes down to whether you want an almost new Macan, or a slightly older but higher trim Cayenne.
$80,000 Budget and Beyond
The last budget we’ll discuss here is the $80k price point, and from there we are calling it “beyond”. Considering a new Turbo GT starts at $180k, there are a lot of options in between $80k and the top of the market. However, if you are shooting beyond the $80k mark you’re probably looking for a Cayenne only considering you can get a new Macan at any trim level in this price point.
The Macan GTS starts brand new at $79,900. So you probably aren’t getting a well-optioned new GTS for $80k. But if you look at 1yr old, almost new options you can get whatever you want.
At this price point it’s either get a new Macan S with a good amount of options, get a 1yr old Macan GTS, or get a new base model Cayenne. Or you could obviously look at getting a gently used 9YA Cayenne S, or any 958 Cayenne you want. Unfortunately if you want a 9YA in a trim higher than the S you’re going to need to up the budget.
Macan vs Cayenne Reliability
Reliability between the Cayenne and Macan is tough to judge since there are so many different generations, and each generation uses like six different engines. Fortunately, we’ve done our research and have already written reliability and problems guides for the Macan and the first two generations of the Cayenne.
Summarizing the below two sections, the Macan’s get an above average grade for reliability. Just be careful once the vehicle gets over the 100k mile point as maintenance history is crucial. The first two generations of Cayenne’s get average reliability ratings. First gens will be less reliable and more costly to own due to age. Second gens are a toss up, some will be more reliable since they are newer, but they also log more common problems than the first gens. Third gen Cayenne’s appear to get an above average rating so far.
Macan’s are more reliable than 955, 957, and 958 Cayenne’s. The 9YA Cayenne and Macan’s are about equivalent in terms of reliability. Both can surpass the 150,000 mile mark, but proper maintenance and care is the biggest factor.
The Macan’s have generally been problem free since their inception. The biggest issues are with the PDK transmission. Outside of the PDK, most problems it has experienced are general wear and tear items that need to be replaced eventually. However, the PDK issue is somewhat overhyped and not as common of a problem as it appears to be.
The Macan did introduce 2 new engines (2.9L twin-turbo and 3.0L singe turbo) that haven’t been on the road long enough to determine common problem areas. Fortunately, there haven’t been any major issues reported so far.
The one caveat to Macan reliability is that the diesel engines are a bit less reliable than the gas engines. Fueling and emissions components tend to be problematic in these cars, although newer models have addressed and fixed a number of these issues.
Overall, 150,000 to 200,000 miles out of a Macan is possible, but maintenance is key.
Age of the engine is a bigger factor for the Cayenne. With some of these cars pushing 20+ years old, you should expect a decent amount of maintenance and repairs out of first gen Cayenne’s, especially if they are high mileage.
Second gen 958 Cayenne’s actually get a worse reputation for reliability than the first gens. They have a few additional common problems that give them a mediocre rap. However, newer 958’s seem to hold up well and generally easier to maintain since they are newer. The first few years of 958’s (2010-2012) will be more expensive to maintain than later model years.
The third gen 9YA’s have so far received an above average rating for reliability. They will experience the same PDK issues as the Macan but outside of this there aren’t a ton of major common problems to be aware of.
Cayenne vs Macan Summary
Hopefully this guide was helpful. There is a lot to decipher between the two Porsche’s considering the Cayenne has been around for so long. The Macan was introduced to be a more budget-friendly and slightly smaller version of the Cayenne. People’s preference for the sleeker and sportier look of the Macan led Porsche to create a Coupe version of the Cayenne for folks who want maximum performance in a similar small and sporty package like the Macan.
The Cayenne is more expensive and generally offers better performance. However, a GTS Macan is about $30k less than a Cayenne GTS and clocks the same 0-60mph times despite 20hp less as it weighs about 500lbs less. However, the GTS is the fastest Macan you can get whereas there are higher trim options on the Cayenne that offer up to about 650hp and a 3.1 second 0-60. On the contrary, a base model Macan only generates 261hp whereas a base Cayenne generates 335hp.
When talking new, the biggest difference between the two is price point. The Cayenne is significantly more expensive but is bigger, more spacious, and offers a few more luxury features compared to the more compact Macan. When buying used, there are a lot of different options at every price point. But, the decision usually comes down to whether you want a newer, lower trim Macan or a slightly older higher trim Cayenne.
Ultimately, both the Cayenne and Macan are great cars. At the end of the day which is better really depends on your price point and whether you are looking for space, luxury, and performance or whether you want something more affordable and sporty at the sacrifice of performance.