Back in 2003, when Porsche announced that they would be expanding their lineup from making exclusively sports cars, the purist community was all up in arms. The introduction of the Cayenne (reviewed here) for the 2004 model year, according to some, represented the dilution of the Porsche brand’s name. The reality is, sales of volume sellers like the Cayenne, Panamera, and Macan pay the bills. It’s thanks to these vehicles that we can still have wild models of the 911 Carrera, and the latest masterpiece, the Cayman GT4. If it means these toys will be available, most with manual transmissions, I’m all for Porsche Cars’ portfolio to include crossovers and even the sexy new Panamera (previewed here).
Production of crossovers and sport-utility-vehicles doesn’t mean they’re boring vehicles destined to soccer practice and the middle school drop-off lane – not at all. They are Porsche, after all, and their devotion towards driving enjoyment and passion must be included in every single vehicle. The 2017 Porsche Macan GTS, a new model for this model year, arrived in our garage for a week’s worth of testing painted in a Carmine Red, an eye-catching colour for sure. Porsche purists will immediately notice the colour’s ever-so-slight similarity to the iconic Guards Red, and the $3,560 asking price for the paint scheme begins to make some sense.
Something worth mentioning here is that the GTS isn’t based on the 400-horsepower Macan Turbo – it’s actually slotted between the Macan S and the Turbo. It uses a beefed-up version of the same 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6 in the S, as opposed to the Turbo’s 3.6L unit. As such, the GTS pushes 360 horsepower at 6,000RPM, and 369 lb-ft of torque, available between 1,650 and 4,000RPM. The Macan GTS pulls to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds, 0.2s quicker than the S. Despite loosely sharing some genetics with the Audi Q5, the Macan feels 100% thoroughbred Porsche. The throttle is crisp and Little Red scoots hard right through the powerband.
Sending the power to all four wheels is the seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual-clutch transmission. Despite other manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, and even Acura now offering DCTs, the Porsche application is the benchmark for the industry – it’s capable of whipping through gears in milliseconds, imperceptibly and sharply. If anything contributes significantly to making this crossover feel like the sports cars it’s related to, it’s PDK. Combined with Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel-drive, the Macan GTS is a truly capable vehicle that has plenty of go to match its show.
Where the GTS really shows its differences from the “lesser” models is in its handling abilities. It employs an air suspension system that has been lowered about fifteen millimeters, and everything is tightened up considerably. Also on board is Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), which provides electronic damping, fully adaptive to road conditions. Ride quality is steady to a point of firm, and the Macan drives like a car – it’s easy to forget that you’re driving a crossover. The steering is lively and allows the GTS to change direction effortlessly. There’s also a “Sport Plus” drive mode on this model which isn’t available on the base Macan or the S – this hones the vehicle’s precision and overall abilities down even more.
Porsche Cars Canada’s tagline for the Macan GTS is “life, intensified”. Its personality matches this phrase perfectly, making it one of the best-packaged performance crossovers around today. The standard Sport Exhaust makes a glorious noise that will have even the most serious types giggling like school girls, and the Macan delivers some of the best road feel of any crossover available for sale today. Big boys like the BMW X5 M (reviewed here) sticker for well over $100,000, so with its base price of just $73,100 (about $19,000 more than the base Macan), the GTS makes some sense as a performance bargain.
The GTS trim, with its added power, is rated for 13.8L/100km in the city and 10.3L/100km on the highway. Not exactly frugal, but this is up to par for the compact performance crossover segment. The 74L fuel tank is a decent size to allow lengthy travels without the need to refuel, and the Macan GTS requires 91-octane premium fuel. My test consisted of about a 40/60 split between highway and city driving, and I observed 13.6L/100km.
On the inside, the Macan GTS is all performance Porsche. The driving position is perfect, far better than anything else in the segment, and the leather/Alcantara seats are the perfect balance between hugging you in corners and providing adequate support for longer drives. There are plenty of hard buttons to use, which is a great inclusion considering the abundance of touch-operated systems out there. Only basic controls for cruise, Bluetooth phone and the trip computer are on the steering wheel, minimizing confusion and allowing for full focus on the road.
The Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system has been completely overhauled and now features Apple CarPlay as well as a series of smartphone applications, including Porsche Connect and wireless internet access. The system is decently responsive and a huge, welcomed improvement over the outgoing PCM application. Our vehicle was equipped with the 14-speaker Bose surround sound system, which sounded awesome. Audiophiles will be pleased to know that Porsche offers a Burmester High-End system as an available option. The only catch we found is that if you use an older iPod, one that requires the USB cable and doesn’t have Bluetooth, PCM will not allow you to browse your playlists, albums, etcetera.
As previously mentioned, the Macan GTS starts at $73,100, and as we know, Porsche options begin to add up very quickly. Relatively speaking, our Macan was only lightly optioned. The Carmine Red paint costs $3,560, and is the only “special” paint colour available. There’s a Premium Package Plus, which for $3,870, adds heated rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, Bose audio, Porsche Entry and Drive (intelligent key), and auto dimming mirrors. An extra $1,360 adds Park Assist with Surround View, which brings the total sticker on our car to just over $80,000.
There aren’t all that many vehicles that directly compete with the Macan GTS. The vast majority of performance crossovers/SUVs are one segment larger, such as the BMW X5 M and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT (reviewed here). They’re all interesting from an enthusiast point of view, but the size of the Macan makes a lot more sense to me. If I want to go quickly in a car that I can stuff a kid or two into, the Macan will be my pick. Anything larger and I’ll opt for the more comfortable, expensive and luxurious choice. One wildcard is the Audi SQ5 (reviewed here). It’s based on the same platform as this Porsche, and employs a supercharged V6. The catch? The Q5 is extremely dated at this point.
Porsche is onto something here – a performance crossover that’s a true do-it-all vehicle. The 2017 Porsche Macan GTS not only looks the part of a family-friendly rocketship, it delivers. It packs the driving precision that Porsche fanatics are so passionate about, and adds the practicality that comes in handy for a small family. Rear legroom is just about enough for growing teenagers, and those requiring more can upgrade to the Cayenne (also available in GTS trim). The Macan GTS further opens the doors to a segment that hasn’t caught on just yet, but should and will become more popular in coming years.