2017 Porsche Macan GTS Review and Road Test

2017 Porsche Macan GTS

The Macan is the newest Porsche to get the GTS treatment. We like the results.


What have we here?

Feast your eyes on the latest model from Porsche to get GTS’ed. The Macan has been with us since 2014, filling a hole in the company’s lineup below the larger and brisk selling Cayenne. It’s intended to do battle in the hotly contested compact luxury SUV market segment, vying for sales against familiar names like the BMW X3, Mercedes Benz GLC and the Audi Q5, a model in which the Macan is distantly related to. We say distant because while they do share wheelbase and suspension mounting points, pretty much everything has been changed or modified by Porsche engineers to give the Macan a distinct identity all it’s own. Where the Macan hierarchy is concerned, the GTS slots in below the Turbo but above the Macan S and the new-for-2016 4-cylinder model.

A “value hack” for the Macan lineup, perhaps?

As every Porsche fan knows, whenever a model gets lavished with the GTS treatment, two things happen- you’re left with a bundle of kit that offers a bit more speed and a whole lot of agility over the other versions in the lineup combined with a bunch of extra goodies that if you had spec’d a lesser model similarly, you would end up spending quite a few more dollars. In the Macan’s case, that includes bigger brakes cribbed from the Turbo, air suspension, sport seats trimmed in grippy Alcantara as well as a more horsepower. Opting for the GTS tacks on a $13,900 premium over the S, but consider that the standard air suspension alone would set you back $3,140 by itself, and the tab would keep swelling as you attempt to mirror the list of standard equipment on the GTS. So while the term “value” may be applied somewhat loosely, add up all the extra bits and you come out ahead rather than ordering everything a la carte.

It certainly looks good.

Our tester was slathered in $3,560 worth of Carmine Red paint which offered a nice contrast to the black 20” RS Spyder Design wheels and further accented by black chrome touches pepped throughout the exterior. We weren’t prepared for how many looks the Macan GTS drew while making our way to various destinations. While it’s not up for debate whether or not the Macan has visual charisma, we thought that the paint option pushed the limits of common sense a little too far for us. I mean, Carmine Red is plenty nice, but for that kind of scratch? We’d be perfectly happy with one of the other less costly choices. Inside, the interior looks spartan but businesslike and there’s splashes of real aluminum trim throughout. Let your eyes and fingers run across the various surfaces and trims and it becomes immediately apparent that the Macan is beautifully made and meticulously assembled. Familiar Porsche touches include the left side ignition key and the front and centre tachometer in the instrument panel. In an era where manufacturers are moving away from buttons towards haptic feedback touchscreens and the like (with varying degrees of success, but we digress) the Macan has a plethora of them. At first it seems overwhelming, but after a few days everything clicks and the layout becomes intuitive. If you still like to operate the infotainment system in the same way you would your tablet, Porsche’s Communication Management (PCM) will do just that. It is sharply rendered and responds promptly to commands like toggling between media sources and pinch-to-zoom-in on maps.

It’s a Porsche, so it probably drives OK, too.

While that is true, it’s a bit of an understatement. Small luxury SUV’s are generally nice to drive, but none of them excel at putting a smile on your face the way the Macan GTS does. It’s sort of like sitting down to eat a meal of your favorite comfort food- the Macan’s menu of dynamic delights are consistently delicious and gratifying. It is, bar none the driver’s choice within its class. That it would embarrass some so-called sports car is impressive, but it is even more so when you consider what it can do for a vehicle weighing over 2,000 kilos and having a higher centre of gravity. You have to remind yourself that you’re piloting an SUV- an SUV that is made to perform in the broiling heat and numbing cold, sometimes even when there is no road- yes, Porsche does make sure they can handle terrain most owners haven’t even encountered, let alone try to drive on. The engineers in Stuttgart have always been able to do extraordinary things with the vehicles they build, and the Macan’s full bandwidth of capabilities will emphatically underscore that point.

What stands out the most?

There’s a few things that make the Macan GTS feel like the premium spent over the S was a worthwhile expense. The engine makes 360 horsepower which is 20 more than what you get with the Macan S, and the way it serves up the power evenly distributed throughout the rev range is most welcome. The engine’s soundtrack is a big part of the Porsche experience, and we find it puzzling that some of our colleagues have dinged the GTS for not sounding particularly good. Perhaps they forgot to activate Sport mode, which gives the GTS a nicely raucous idle and opens up the exhaust when you really put your foot down. We do wish it was a bit louder, but adding any more volume might make it sound too uncouth to your neighbors. Shifting duties fall to Porsche’s PDK 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox- it shifts imperceptibly under light throttle and snaps crisply from gear to gear when you’re caning it- we can say with little doubt that it is by far the best execution of the technology in the entire industry. The standard air suspension stays compliant no matter the situation and conspires to give the GTS handling limits that are far beyond what we felt comfortable exploring on public roads, keeping body roll, squat and dive at bay under all conditions. And of course, like all Porsche products it featured indefatigable brakes with great feel.

What might go wrong?

Well, you could attack the options list with reckless abandon and then get presented with a pretty hefty tab for the privilege. Show some restraint (skip stuff like the painted air vent slats option at $2,175, for example) and you’ll still end up with a Macan GTS that is wholly satisfying. The handsome styling means that the cargo area isn’t as commodious as we’d like, nor does the backseat offer up an abundance of room for passengers. It’s not too bad, but it’s not a place we’d like to perch for a long haul drive. The last complaint we have will not be a big deal for most, and this is that we wish the turbo V6 would be a louder when you thumb the sport exhaust button on the console. Even though it was motivated by a V8, we loved the volume level you’d find in the outgoing Cayenne GTS- we wish that the decibel level from the Macan’s tailpipes would be more in line with that.

Should I buy a Macan GTS?

There are many choices in the marketing segment where the Macan toils, and many of them are very, very nice. However: if you place an emphasis on driving enjoyment, you must get the Macan. No other vehicle it competes against can offer such rewarding dynamic delights and yet also provide a carefully engineered balance of comfort and all weather prowess. It may demand that you open your wallet a little wider, but for the uncompromising enthusiast, we think it’s money well spent.

2017 Porsche Macan GTS- Specifications

  • Price as tested: $86,495
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger compact luxury SUV
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (PDK)
  • Engine:  3.0 twin-turbocharged V6, DOHC, 24 valves
  • Horsepower:  360 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 369 @ 1,640-4,000 rpm
  • Curb weight: 2,038 kg (4,492 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 14.2/100km (17 mpg)