In nearly every test we’ve done recently that involved a Porsche car or SUV, we’ve come to realise that adding a GTS badge to the tail moves that variant right to the head of the class, and it seems that rings true with the 2020 Porsche Macan GTS.
There’s still a sentiment – despite their rampant success and market demand – that sports carmakers should stick to making sports cars and let others build SUVs. I’ve always held that opinion myself, but the reality is that if you revere the 911, you need to thank the Macan. Without it, there would be no 911, it’s that simple.
The Macan now accounts for near enough to 50 per cent of all Porsche sales – so it’s fair to say the buying public has spoken with its wallets. And ultimately, if SUV sales allow a manufacturer like Porsche to keep doing what it does so well in other areas, even I will begrudgingly accept their existence.
Can you imagine what the engineers at BMW thought when the first Macan came along? BMW had pioneered the ‘SUV that drives like a car’ concept with the X5, and all of a sudden here comes upstart Porsche with one that can be hustled as hard as a hot hatch (maybe even harder) around a racetrack. Back to the drawing board…
After a week behind the wheel of the 2020 Macan GTS, we’ve once again, as we’ve done with other Porsche models it has to be said, landed on the GTS specification being the smart pick in the range.
Sure, you can get ‘more’ if you have more money, but that’s not always the point. The GTS offers the poise and performance you expect without being the top-of-the-range Turbo, which costs approximately 30-grand more.
|2020 Porsche Macan GTS|
|Engine (capacity, cylinders, type)||2.9-litre twin-turbo charged petrol V6|
|Power and torque (with RPMs)||280kW @ 5200-6700, 520Nm @ 1750-5000rpm|
|Transmission||seven-speed PDK automatic|
|Drive type (FWD, etc)||AWD|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||10.0L/100km|
|fuel use on test||11.6L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up / down)||488L/1503L|
|Turning circle||11.96 metres|
|ANCAP safety rating (year tested)||Not tested yet.|
|Warranty (years / km)||3 years / unlimited km|
|Main competitors||BMW X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5|
|Price as tested (ex on-road costs)||$112,300 (plus ORC)|
Pricing for the GTS starts from $112,300 before on-road costs, and there are exterior accents that differentiate it from the rest of the range.
The Sport Design pack has new front and rear highlights in black, side skirts unique to the GTS, a rear diffuser that is also black, black exhaust tips, smoked LED headlights that feature Porsche’s Dynamic Light System and the LED light bar across the rear. The suspension is also different.
Our test GTS gets 20-inch RS Spyder Design alloy wheels that get a satin/gloss finish, and a hefty braking package – 360mm up front and 330mm at the rear – with red callipers.
Our stunning red Macan GTS has some options fitted, too, taking the price up to the $145,000 mark before on-road costs. Features like the GTS leather interior package add just over $8000 to the cost, while the self-levelling air suspension system adds a further $3100.
When you speak to Porsche dealers, it’s common for buyers to add quite a list of options to just about any Porsche they buy, so it’s not uncommon to ratchet the price up a fair margin from the starting point.
Standard equipment is extensive, as you’d expect from Porsche, with some of the notables being the 10.9-inch screen (it’s new), DAB radio, Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto, and we really can’t work out why any manufacturer would hitch themselves to one OS wagon), rear-view camera, privacy glass and auto-dimming mirrors.
There’s little surprise that what’s under the bonnet is the centrepiece of the Macan’s appeal – in this case, a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine that makes 280kW and 520Nm. As we often say in testing, it isn’t always the peak torque figure that should be the discussion starter, but where that peak torque is available. The GTS gets the full whack between 1750–5000rpm, right where you want it for a solid hit to the chest.
Porsche’s seven-speed PDK dual-clutch is, as it’s been since release, a stunning execution of precision and effortlessness. It’s been the best in the business regardless of the platform it’s fitted to, and nothing changes for the Macan GTS.
Our tester has the optional Sport Chrono package (of course it does, and you’d be mad not to tick that $2390 box), and as such will run from 0–100km/h in just 4.7 seconds. SUVs have gotten seriously fast.
A factor that influences the exterior appeal, but more importantly makes for changes at speed, is the 15mm lower suspension. The Macan looks tough for it, and with adaptive air you get a further 10mm reduction, but it sharpens the chassis performance into the bargain.
You could be forgiven for thinking of the Macan more as a grand tourer in concept than an SUV, such is the performance potential, and plenty of buyers cross-shop a Macan with hi-po Euro wagons.
We’ve written it before in reviews, but it’s worth stating it here again – Porsche doesn’t do ‘cheap’ cabins. Any Porsche cabin – regardless of specification grade – is an execution of quality, insulation and comfort. If Porsche can build a 911 that you can live with day to day, there’s no doubt a Macan will deliver to the same brief. The sports seats are comfortable and adjustable for a range of drivers, and there’s plenty of storage, such as door pockets that are actually useful and cupholders that don’t get in the way.
While the second row is compact – as befits the medium-SUV segment – there’s enough room for two back there, making the Macan GTS road-trip capable. The second row gets air vents as it should, and there are ISOFIX provisions at the two outer seats' points.
The luggage area isn’t as big as some – 488L with the second row in play – but it’s handy enough for the family unless you lug around a super-sized stroller.
From the driver’s seat, the Macan is ready for Porsche’s decluttering of the controls and switchgears. Don’t get me wrong, it all feels and looks premium, but the newest generation of Stuttgart switchgear benefits from the rationalising that Porsche has done in the control centre. In the old system, there’s plenty to work out and get familiar with, but once you do, it is logical to use.
Crucially, though, the GTS is both comfortable and sporting. This specification grade is aimed at the buyer who might feel the inclination to rip in on occasion on the right road, and the GTS ensures that is the case. You can sit down low into the cabin if you desire, which I like to do in anything sporty, and it certainly feels more sports wagon than it does family truckster.
We loved the analogue gauge cluster ahead of the driver, which also looks more like what you’d see ahead of you in a sports car. I always tend to toggle across to satellite navigation in the digital section, but you can choose your preference of course.
Wind the forced-induction V6 into life and it’s got that sinister snarl about it. Hinting at what it's capable of when you let it off the leash. It will rev hard and enthusiastically up to its near 7000rpm redline, and the nature of the engine note means you’ll be tempted. Often.
As Porsche has a tendency to do, lag is almost imperceptible. Get on the throttle hard and it rockets off the mark, piling on speed to redline with that solid whack of torque coming on strong right through the mid-range.
Once on the move and with the V6 singing, Porsche’s brilliant PDK comes into its own, with rapid-fire shifts no matter how hard you’re asking it to work. It remains the gold standard across performance and tootling round town.
As the revs rise, the exhaust screams louder, and the GTS is getting pushed harder to the oncoming corner – turn in and the steering is so precise, you’ll quickly forget all about the SUV skin that surrounds you. There’s real Porsche sports car DNA here, whether other drivers will want to admit it or not.
The other factor that constantly impresses with any Porsche is ride quality. If Land Rover sets the adjustable-suspension standard in the large-SUV space, Porsche does it just about everywhere else. It’s inconceivable that a 911 can ride as well as it does on poor roads, given what it’s capable of. In a slightly less fearsome manner, the GTS runs the same race.
The ride is firmer than a spongy SUV, but this is claiming to be a sports SUV remember, and as such, I reckon Porsche has got it as close to perfect as it can be. The generally taut feeling of the chassis matches nicely to the sharpness of the steering, the braking performance, and the overall balance of the package.
The GTS glides over pockmarked city streets, unaffected by the nature of the surface or the sharpness of the speed humps. The cabin never feels anything other than comfortable and solid no matter what the tyres are dealing with beneath you.
On that note, I was so impressed with the performance of the Michelin Latitude tyres fitted to the Macan, I built my wheel package around them for the 1966 Chevrolet C10 I’m customising. Their broad grip capability illustrates the effectiveness of fitting quality tyres to performance vehicles of any kind.
Against a claimed 10.0L/100km, we used 11.6L/100km after a week behind the wheel, with enthusiastic driving and heavy traffic pushing that number higher than it will be if you take a longer cruise on the open road. Expect it to drop neatly into single figures if you do.
The 2020 Macan is covered by Porsche Australia’s three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and requires a visit to the service centre every 12 months/15,000km. Service costs vary from just under $700 for a basic service, up to around the $1900 mark for a major service.
The Macan is a five-star-safety-rated car, but it was tested some time ago, and the suite of electronic safety aids that you might expect to be standard are, in fact, optional.
For all the reasons noted above, we’ve nailed the GTS as our pick of the Macan range. The Turbo might be faster, and there are more affordable grades, of course, but the GTS strikes the perfect balance between them. It’s a sensational, proper performance SUV.