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, plus 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 topspec Turbo, meaning punchy, if not ferocious performance, and a clear produces a rorty note and plenty of focus on handling. Priced at $109,700, the Macan GTS is a rival for the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 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 $32K more expensive Macan Turbo, though a milder ECU tune means outputs are 280kW/520Nm, compared to the Turbo’s 324kW/550Nm. Still, that’s 15kW/20Nm up on 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 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 off the ride height, 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.
Aim a Macan GTS at 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 an 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.
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, longer-legged 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? It depends on your priorities. If they happen to be driver enjoyment and dynamic excellence, then this remains the SUV to beat.
Class-leading dynamics; quicker than rivals; ride quality; excellent seats
Button-heavy cabin feels dated; heavy; pricey; rear-seat kneeroom
Model Porsche Macan GTS
Engine 2894cc V6 (90°), 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