Over time, as Porsche’s product portfolio has expanded, it seems the GTS moniker represents the sweet spot across the various model ranges. Sportier than the base line, with a bit more punch, but still offering plenty of everyday usability without the hard edges of kidney belt-tight suspension.
When it comes to Porsche’s best-selling model, the Macan mid-sized SUV, the prospect of a GTS version is one well worth waiting for and it has been a wait of more than 12 months for this one to land.
The GTS sits between the Macan S and Macan Turbo in offering a blend of comfort, with performance wrapped in a taught, compact SUV body that will get you to 100 kilometres per hour three-tenths faster than previously, in just 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 261kmph.
What makes the GTS stand out?
This is due to an all-new engine for the GTS, with a 2.9-litre V6 replacing the three-litre unit used in the past. Smaller it may be, but whereas the 3.0 unit was from the previous S, the 2.9 engine is a detuned version borrowed from the Turbo.
So, yes, that means it now comes with a pair of turbochargers mounted in the centre of the engine, which helps it to deliver an extra 20 brake horsepower and 22Nm of torque, now available from as low as 1,750 revolutions per minute, all the way to 5,000rpm. It makes overtaking on single-lane roads a breeze with virtually instant power any time you need it.
This is also the same unit that is used to power the Panamera, Cayenne and even the Audi RS4, though all are tuned to suit their individual characteristics.
It includes a spicier exhaust, which rewards with a nice baritone note when in Sport+ mode and it sits on new, stiffer engine mounts that give more accuracy to the steering.
The whole lot runs through Porsche’s tried-and-tested, seven-speed PDK transmission, which is the best in the self-shifting business, anticipating up-shifts as well as downshifts in Sport and Sport+ modes.
Its brain “reads” your driving style by measuring inputs from sensors in the throttle, steering, brakes and suspension, as well as the lean and yaw angles of the car. From this, it knows if you’re on a wide multi-lane freeway, a tight country road, if you’re just cruising along or up for a bit of sport – and, depending on each, it adjusts its shift patterns accordingly.
During our drive, as we went to flick the shift paddles manually, the car did so a few tenths of a second faster.
This technology is now paired with Porsche’s latest all-wheel drive system, featuring Porsche Traction Management that aims to deliver more rear-wheel drive handling balance.
All in the suspension and handling
While the performance and transmission calibration changes are noticeable, a lot of effort has gone into the suspension and handling of this second generation GTS.
Standard equipment now includes Porsche’s Active Suspension Management adaptive damper system, which lowers its suspension by up to 15 millimetres when compared to the S. It also makes it the lowest riding version in the Macan fleet.
This reduced ride height is combined with recalibrated adaptive dampers that are tuned and tweaked for even greater control when giving it a nudge on quiet roads. Macan GTS also comes with bespoke RS Spyder Design 20-inch satin gloss alloy wheels.
Hiding behind those wheels are 360-millimetre and 330mm front and rear disc brakes that can be boosted with options of either a tungsten carbide coating on the PSCB units or ceramic composite material, as part of the PCCB package.
Other external highlights include gloss black elements on the front apron and front section, side skirts, a roof spoiler, window trim strips and black script on the rear, which blends in with the darkened LED rear light bar and darkened LED headlights. Black accents also feature on the rear diffuser and around the tailpipes.
The interior is similar to other GTS models across the Porsche range, with a dark themed interior dominated by Alcantara leather and carbon fibre. There’s the option of Carmine Red or Crayon Grey for the seats and accents, too.
Crossing that line between performance and comfort, the Macan GTS also includes a Bose surround sound system, a smartphone tray with inductive charging, adaptive cruise control, including Traffic Jam Assist, Park Assist and Surround View for a 360-degree overhead view of the car when parking in tight places.
As in all Porsches, the drive mode settings are easy to find, located on a wheel-mounted dial and Sport or Sport+ are the optimum modes, offering the best combination of ride comfort, handling and performance with instant throttle response and agile steering.
It delivers a nice balance of straight-line punch, with crisp handling in a comfortable yet practical, five seat, five-door package.
It’s a reason why Macan is the model that Porsche dealers have the most trouble keeping enough stock of. This GTS version is more affordable than the Turbo, only marginally slower across the board and wrapped in a better-looking and better-balanced model than the S below it.
There are other sports-oriented, mid-sized SUVs from Germany and the UK, but after spending a decent amount of time in the Macan GTS, it’s become clear that they’re still bit players in this competitive sector.