The Porsche Macan GTS is positioned between the Macan S petrol and the Macan Turbo, and strangely, it seems to be better than both.
From $109,500 (plus a load of options you’ll no doubt have to tick), it’s $22,800 more than the S petrol and $12,900 less than the Turbo. That the price difference is closer to the Turbo than the Macan S should give you a good indication of where the car really sits in the range.
Using the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo engine as the S petrol, the GTS gains an additional 11kW and 40Nm to bring its output to 265kW and 500Nm, all thanks to better air induction, reduced exhaust back-pressure and an increase in turbo boost pressure by 0.2 to 1.2 bar.
That will see it accelerate from 0-100km/h in five seconds flat (when you tick the box for the should-be-standard-but-only-optional $2690 Sport Chrono Package), making it 0.2 seconds faster than the S petrol but slower by equal measure to the Macan Turbo, which uses a 3.6-litre turbocharged engine with an additional 29kW and 50Nm of grunt.
From the outside it’s not too hard to tell a GTS apart from the rest of the Macan range, mainly due to the extensive use of both matte and gloss black. It’s typical GTS fashion from Porsche and it looks tasteful – particularly the black quad-exhausts - without being over the top.
Performance figures and looks aside, Porsche has always marketed its GTS variants as being the ultimate in dynamic handling in the range, which is probably why the Macan GTS was being launched in the Canary Islands on some of most challenging roads we’ve come across.
Having just handed back the keys to the new 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S, the Macan GTS came as a bit of an initial shock. One, because it seemed to jitter and sometimes bounce around Tenerife’s amazing but occasionally third-world roads we were travelling on, and two, because it had no right as an SUV to drive so competently.
The Macan GTS chassis has been modified and the ride height lowered by 15mm (compared to S petrol), with our test car fitted with the optional air suspension, which allowed for Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes.
Having left the suspension in Normal, the Macan GTS puttered without fuss around the heavy traffic as we made our way up the mountain. However, the occasional oversized pothole was met with a relatively large thump through the cabin, which wasn’t helped by the car’s over-sized 21-inch wheels.
When we got to the twisty stuff on some open roads, we engaged Sport+ and let the Macan GTS truly come alive. This car lives for corners and in an SUV, it takes a special person to exploit that on a daily basis. In reality, there’s really no valid reason for an SUV to be this dynamically capable.
What has been evident from past experience is that the Macan (let alone the GTS variant) can shame actual purpose-built sports cars. What Porsche has done here is take that one step further, but perhaps at the compromise of ride comfort. Although unfair of us to say without back-to-back comparison, the GTS felt sharper turning into corners and more agile on the way out than even the Turbo. The steering is a delight, well weighted (albeit slightly on the heavy side, but the optional "Power steering Plus" can fix that if need be) and sharp.
Like other Macans, the GTS has a general rear-wheel drive bias for better driving dynamics, a character that shines when driven hard. It does have the capacity to shift 100 percent of its might to the front if need be.
For those who are truly mad, there’s even the option for electronically controlled differential lock (PTV Plus), which will allow for throttle-induced oversteer… you know, for when the kids are a bit late to school.
Luckily the GTS gets the Turbo’s braking system. It needs it. The Macan GTS gets up to speed brilliantly, delivering the mid-range torque that the standard S petrol lacks (which is why we’ve always recommended the diesel variant for daily use).
Occasionally we found our test car stuttering or jerking when upshifting at near redline as the seven-speed PDK gearbox appeared to hesitate at times. Other than that anomaly, the tried and tested transmission is brilliant.
The exhaust note, which is enhanced by the now-standard sports exhaust, is very technical in nature but very audible. It barks like a well-trained German shepherd, without the manic madness that may have come from a larger naturally aspirated engine.
On the inside the Porsche Macan GTS gets special GTS marked sports seats and the updated infotainment system that now includes Apple CarPlay integration and a significantly faster and user-friendlier interface in general. We tested CarPlay extensively and it worked a treat, with close to zero setup process and immediate connectivity between Macan and iPhone.
Porsche has certainly left a lot of blank space around the seven-inch touchscreen, which means you may see it get another update to a larger size in the mid-life update in the near future.
It’s no surprise that Porsche launched the new Macan GTS well after the standard S and Turbo. In a way, unless you absolutely want the fastest and the most expensive model, the GTS renders the Turbo somewhat obsolete. It’s the perfect step up for those that desired the S petrol but found its mid-range lack of torque a concern.
We will have to wait and drive the Macan GTS in Australia early next year to confidently judge its ride quality on local roads (with more reasonably sized tyres) - as such the 9/10 rating here doesn't take ride quality into account due to the exceptionally poor roads in Tenerife and the test car's giant wheels, but in every other regard it’s certainly our pick of the pack in the Macan range.