5 0 5
Plus & Minus
Class-leading dynamics; quicker than rivals; ride quality; excellent seats
Button-heavy cabin feels dated; heavy; pricey; rear-seat kneeroom
The Wheels Verdict: If driving enjoyment and a talented chassis are your top fast-SUV priorities, then this is the one to buy. Quicker and sharper than any of its rivals, the Macan GTS is still the dynamic benchmark for circa-$100K performance SUVs. Only a few equipment anomalies and a cabin that’s starting to show its age dull its appeal. Oh, and be careful with that options list. Things can get out of control very quickly…
WHAT IS THE PORSCHE MACAN GTS?
This is the sportiest model in the Macan range, meaning sharp handling and driver enjoyment are the primary objectives. Priced at $109,700, it fills the gap between the existing Macan S and the range-topping Macan Turbo.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
Things move quickly in the performance world. It’s been two years since Porsche last offered a Macan GTS to Aussie buyers so can this new model still hold its own against newer rivals? And is the GTS still the pick of the Macan range? We flew to Portugal to find out.
SUBTLE evolution and incremental improvement have long been Porsche’s calling cards, and so it is with the new Macan GTS. A facelift of the original Macan GTS, which first appeared in 2015, this updated version has been honed and fettled to deliver punchier performance and even sharper handling, while also offering a richer interior and a longer list of standard equipment.
Pitched as the “sportiest Macan”, the GTS fills the middle ground between the Macan S and the top-spec Turbo, meaning punchy, if not ferocious performance, and a clear focus on handling. Priced at $109,700, the Macan GTS is a rival for the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and BMW X3 M40i, but is quicker and better to drive than both.
Thrust is delivered by the same 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 as the $30K more expensive Macan Turbo, though a lesser ECU tune means outputs are 280kW/520Nm. Still, that represents a 15kW/20Nm increase compared to the old GTS, and the 0-100km/h sprint has been shaved by three tenths to just 4.7sec, if you tick the box for Sport Chrono.
Flatten the throttle and there’s no denying this is a quick SUV. Engine response is impressive (the turbos are mounted inside the vee to reduce lag), the quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is easily the best transmission in this class, and despite a portly 1910kg kerb weight, full-bore acceleration is forceful enough to push you deep into the backrest of your seat. Sounds good too, thanks to a standard sports exhaust that produces a rorty note and plenty of aural theatrics on the overrun.
Porsche’s primary focus, however, has been the dynamics. Three-way adjustable adaptive damping is standard, as is a sports suspension tune that drops the ride height by 15mm compared to regular Macans. Optional air suspension shaves an extra 10mm from that figure, should you feel compelled to really blur the lines between performance SUVs and wagons, though we’d wager it’d be an indulgence too far. Though perhaps not quite as far as the optional carbon ceramic brakes, which will set you back $16,870. The standard cast iron stoppers, which measure 360mm up front with six-piston monobloc calipers, provide ample stopping power.
Pitch a Macan GTS onto a challenging section of road and it delivers the kind of stellar handling we’ve come to expect from this badge. The chassis is noticeably sharper than a Macan S and thanks to a larger footprint (standard 20-inch wheels are shod with staggered Michelin Latitude rubber measuring 265/45 up front and 295/40 out back) overall grip levels are high. Better yet, despite the chassis’ performance focus, the ride never feels overly firm or harsh.
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Inside, front-row passengers are ensconced in superb eight-way sports seats and are met with some GTS-specific visual touches such as brushed aluminium kick plates. It’s a richly trimmed and highly equipped place to sit, though the button-heavy centre console is showing its age. The lack of a head-up display, even as an option, is odd too. Cabin storage is also at a premium (the glovebox and central bin are disappointingly small) and while the rear seat offers ample head- and toe-room, and a comfortable rear-cushion with decent under-thigh support, taller passengers may want for kneeroom.
Yet these are minor niggles in an overall package that offers a convincing blend of performance and everyday useability. There’s some tasteful visual differentiation here too, with GTS models scoring blacked out details, black Spyder design wheels and redesigned front and rear aprons. So is it still the pick of the Macan range? Like anything, it depends on your priorities. If they happen to be driver enjoyment and dynamic excellence, then this remains the SUV to beat.
Audi SQ5 S, Mercedes-AMG GLC43, BMW X3 M40i, Jaguar F-Pace 35t S, Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar
PORSCHE MACAN GTS PRICE AND SPECS
Model: Porsche Macan GTS
Engine: 2894cc V6, dohc, 24v, twin-turbo
Max power: 280kW @ 5200-6700rpm
Max torque: 520Nm @ 1750-5000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h: 4.7sec (claimed, with Sport Chrono)
On sale: Now