Why Macan’t I?
Often discussed on the podcast is how perception factors into car buying decisions. When considering a new car, it’s hard not to ask “what will people think of me when driving this?” Cars, and how we are perceived when driving them, while not at all bound together, still build stories. Marketers and salespeople have known this since the beginning of driving. Making a choice about a vehicle–consciously or not–is part of your self-identity. Their attempts to tap into our emotions can work spectacularly well; for example, how many ho-hum CUVs are being clad in black plastic at this very moment so they can be sold to young, seemingly adventurous people? Perception-based selling can also backfire, as I will share in this brief anecdote:
“Imagine driving this new Mustang past the beach. The top down. Your favorite music playing. Girls looking at you, wanting to be with you. Guys looking at you, wanting to be you…” This was the actual scenario portrayed for me by the sales manager at a Ford dealership a few years back. After I had just mentioned I needed to leave to meet up with my wife and young son. I unsuccessfully stifled my laughter as I got up and walked out the door.
Maybe he thought he had a read on me. That I was a family man, approaching middle age, looking to indulge in some escapism. Little did he know that my copilot would be my five-year-old who also loves cars and driving. I was shopping for a different kind of experience, and I wasn’t really thinking about how people would perceive me in a loud and rowdy pony car.
Flash forward a few years. We are older, my wife and I have different jobs with long commutes, our son has different interests. An efficient, little CUV might make more sense given our circumstances. What would an enthusiast consider when weighing different options?
Probably the Porsche Macan.
Automotive journalists across the globe love the handling, acceleration, and utility of the Macan. There are videos of people tracking them and taking them off-road. Turbos keep up with sports sedans, equal them in luxury, and surpass them in practicality. The GTS is a bargain for what you get, and it doesn’t really depreciate. The Macan S is the sweet spot and can be had at a nice discount if purchased coming off lease.
But, at least where I normally drive in Connecticut, no one drives them except soccer moms. And who wouldn’t want to run errands and transport family in comfort and style? The Porsche Macan delivers those things quite well. However, EVERY single reviewer of the Macan praises its performance. So why don’t many enthusiast reviewers own one? Is it because it’s “a car for soccer moms”?
The problem is obviously perception. Similar to the Honda Ridgeline, the Macan is a Swiss army knife bristling with functionality, the Ultimate Dad Wagon. It’s unassuming–not the Ford Raptor, Hellcat, or Type-R that we often say we want. The above picture notwithstanding, minimal effort is needed to enjoy this crossover during a long commute, when driving spiritedly, or while traversing some surprisingly rough terrain. We enthusiasts often need to stop worrying about what others think in order to appreciate some great cars for what they really are.
Sure, I’d love a monster truck as a daily and a drag car that shoots flames for the weekends. Maybe I’ll just buy and mod a Macan instead? Should you watch for a possible build series in the future? Probably not. There’s a certain dignity in carrying a messenger bag, wearing a crisp, pink polo shirt, and styling your hair—just before driving to hockey practice. Isn’t your style–and your ride–all about being yourself? I think I would just leave my Macan as is because who would really be judging me if I drove one? Car enthusiasts. Who should really be driving Porsche Macans? Enthusiasts comfortable with who they are, in touch with what they want, and realistic about what they need in a vehicle.
In the end, we may really need to say “Yes, I Macan.”
PS - I refuse to apologize for the dad joke because that would contradict the whole point of this post.
PPS - Sorry for the dad joke.
Bill hosts a blog and YouTube channel that lead him to think more deeply about what it means to drive. The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.