HERE’S A poser for you: name another car costing north of £55,000 on which satellite navigation is an optional extra.
The prices of options on a Porsche are almost as renowned as the company’s engineering prowess. Yet for every diehard fan of the German car maker that bemoans the Macan as another example of Porsche betraying its roots, there is an enthusiastic owner revelling in this junior SUV and the driving experience it offers.
In the Macan GTS, Porsche has created a car that sits between the S (£45,945) and the Turbo (£62,540) and promises an added dose of sportiness or, as we might otherwise put it, Porscheness.
GTS stands for Gran Turismo Sport and the formula is roughly as follows: take a standard S, tweak the engine and chassis and stick on some go-faster stripes. You can have your Macan detailing in any colour you like, as long as it’s black. Everything from the tailpipes to the 20in alloys wheels and headlights now boasts a matt or gloss black finish.
Inside the car are new sports seats swathed in Alcantara that adjust electrically in eight ways to optimise their grip on drivers. Embroidered “GTS” logos on the seat backs and a red rev counter leave passengers in no doubt that you are a sporting individual of some distinction.
The Turbo version may be the ultimate go-faster Macan but the GTS features a subtly uprated version of the twin-turbo 3-litre V6 found in the S. The turbo boost pressure has been increased so the engine now develops 355bhp and 369 lb ft of torque, an increase of 20bhp and 30 lb ft. That may not sound much, but with the £729 Sport Chrono package fitted it’s enough, Porsche says, to shorten the 0-62mph sprint time to 5.2 seconds, from 5.4 seconds. The top speed is an immodest 159mph.
It wasn’t so long ago that the thought of doing almost 160mph in an SUV would have been downright terrifying. We can remember clinging on for dear life in an old Mitsubishi Shogun Sport at 110mph.
The GTS sits 15mm closer to the ground than the S and has improved electronic damping. It’s known as Porsche active suspension management, or PASM for short, and is just one of a battalion of abbreviations fighting to optimise the Macan’s setup. There’s also Porsche traction management (PTM), which individually distributes power to each of the four wheels, and a seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) gearbox. The latter comes with paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
Recognising that the Macan is just as likely to be used by a coffee-sipping school-run mum as a wannabe racing driver, Porsche has engineered its junior SUV to be versatile. The GTS adds some chilli to the recipe, but it will still appeal to most tastes. Porsche has never subscribed to the theory, for example, that a lumpy ride is a prerequisite for a sporty experience.
Despite sitting on enormous tyres, the Macan doesn’t feel aggressively stiff. It was perhaps a sign of Porsche’s confidence that it launched the GTS on the twisty roads around Tenerife’s El Teide volcano. The GTS’s ability to soak up the worst of the lumps and bumps, while cornering hard and flat, would make not just every other SUV but even the best sports saloons envious.
The brakes are pinched from a Macan Turbo, so they have more than enough stopping power. The gearbox snicks expertly from cog to cog, and if you use the paddles you can pretend to be Porsche’s Le Mans driver Mark Webber. Every time you shift down a gear there’s an automatic blip of the throttle and a characterful bark and burble from the sports exhaust.
In normal circumstances the power is sent to the rear wheels, giving the Macan the feel of a sports car. Only if the system judges it necessary — in bad weather, say, or if you venture off road — does it transfer some to the front. Our only, minor, criticism concerns the steering, which is a little light.
The bestselling Macan is the diesel version, which accounts for about 70% of sales, but it will never match the petrol-powered GTS’s delicious sound or free-revving joie de vivre. If you can live with the higher fuel consumption — 31.4mpg, versus 46.3mpg for the diesel — then it is the more desirable choice. Do note, however, that neither version is likely to hit these figures in the real world.
The most impressive thing about any Macan is its ability to play a multitude of roles. The GTS is no different. Turn off the sports exhaust and put the damping into Comfort mode and it’ll happily play the part of refined family holdall, even if cabin space in the rear is a bit tight for long-legged passengers.
The Macan GTS is unlikely to supplant the diesel as the bestseller. However, even though it lacks the straight-line performance of the Turbo, it is the sportiest Macan yet. It’s so good, we might just get over having to pay an extra £1,052 for sat nav.
2015 Porsche Macan GTS specifications
- PRICE: £55,188
- ENGINE: 2977cc, V6, twin turbo
- POWER: 355bhp @ 6000rpm
- TORQUE: 369 lb ft @ 1650rpm
- TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch
- ACCELERATION: 0-62mph: 5.2sec
- TOP SPEED: 159mph
- FUEL: 32.1mpg
- CO2: 215g/km
- ROAD TAX BAND: K (£640 for first year; £290 thereafter)
- RELEASE DATE: On sale now
Porsche Macan GTS rivals
Audi SQ5 3.0 TDI quattro, £51,845 (view cars for sale)
For Understated high-performance SUV with good economy
Against Available with a diesel only, albeit a lusty one
Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4Matic, £44,855 (view cars for sale)
For Impressive performance and handling; lower price
Against Four-cylinder engine; smaller cabin