► CAR magazine tests Macan GTS
► Baby SUV gets the GTS treatment
► £55k, 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, 355bhp
This is the Porsche Macan GTS, a compact SUV that slots between the existing S and Turbo models in today’s line-up. Best think of it, though, as an S with a few more stops pulled out, the same kind of recipe that elevates Carrera and Cayman GTS above S variants.
The GTS gets a lightly tickled version of the S’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, yielding 20bhp more at 355bhp; the adaptive PASM suspension has been tweaked, the chassis lowered 15mm on uprated springs; and there are 20-inch alloys, Turbo brakes and a sports exhaust.
The new GTS costs £55,188 (Macan S: £45,945; Turbo: £62,540). So it’s the usual logic: if you’re buying an S and chucking on a few options, shouldn’t sir just go straight for the GTS?
Why am I thinking Citroen Cactus?
Well, there’s a Sport Design styling package. It’s been specially updated for the GTS, with a high-gloss black finish above the waistline, and a more functional matt black where things may on rare occasions become muddier. But you’ll also find that C4 Cactus-esque swathe of black down the side panels of regular S models – unlike the Citroën, it does nothing to shake off parking scuffs.
There are design tweaks inside the Macan too, with GTS sports seats and selective use of Alcantara trim.
Porsche Macan GTS: first impressions?
Our first stint behind the wheel takes us from Tenerife airport on major roads that are generally well surfaced. The sports seats are comfortable, the driving position excellent and the small-diameter steering wheel mentally readies you for a sports car driving experience, not a near-two-tonne leviathan.
The firmer suspension remains compliant – I wouldn’t feel any need to option the air suspension – the steering fast and accurate, the standard seven-speed dual-clutch transmission smooth and responsive, and levels of refinement are very high. This is a nice place to spend a long journey.
The V6 is also highly impressive: it purrs smoothly throughout the rev range, sounds purposefully sporty, and pulls strongly no matter the revs on the dial. The flexibility lets you know its turbocharged, but its responsiveness feels more naturally aspirated.
Also notable is the new Porsche Communication Management touchscreen system – it’s a much more intuitive system than the previous effort. You can pinch and swipe the screen, and it’s logical to navigate functions; it’s also compatible with Apple CarPlay, so you can plug in your iPhone 5 or later, and control key smartphone apps via the car’s touchscreen: phone functions, maps, music library and other approved apps.
If you think there’s no need to spec – the still optional – Porsche nav because you can use free Apple maps via CarPlay, Porsche has been pretty shrewd: it’s bundled CarPlay functionality with the optional Connect Plus module, which brings online navigation and real-time traffic info.
What about when you crank it up?
Porsche closed off a mountain road for us, and we followed a 911 Carrera through the twists and turns at relatively high speed, if nothing crazy. The Macan GTS is loaded with buttons to firm up the suspension and reduce steering assistance, and yet I still found the suspension too soft, and the steering far too light for these kind of exploits –and that’s from someone who rarely feels compelled to press Sport buttons on the road.
Traction, naturally, was of the Velcro variety, the four-wheel-drive system feeling pleasingly rear-biased, and the brakes hauled us down from big speeds on the straights before swooping round hairpins. The engine also continued to impress, dragging the GTS out of low-speed hairpins with enthusiasm, and staying smooth right up at the 6000rpm power peak; just consider that while 355bhp might sound like plenty, the 1940kg kerbweight does its best to blunt that firepower.
Once our run was over, the overriding impression was of an SUV that tolerated a challenging road, rather than encouraged you to run up and down it until you ran out of petrol. The only caveat I’ll throw in here is that our time with the Macan was almost ridiculously brief due to a delayed flight; perhaps I’ll be won over with longer exposure.
There’s a lot to admire about the Porsche Macan GTS. It’s well equipped, incredibly comfortable and refined, and delivers its ample-enough performance with a velvety polish. And in this market, there’s not an awful lot that’s directly comparable, rivals serving their petrol performance SUVs in larger, more expensive, Cayenne-proportioned packages.
The GTS is a very competent car, but it falls down when it comes to outright driving enjoyment on the kind of road you’d drive for fun. And that’s a surprise for something wearing the GTS badge.