2016 Porsche Macan GTS Review

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We’ll cut to the chase. There’s not much to not like about the 2016 Porsche Macan GTS. In terms of being a sports-centric, high-riding example of practical, everyday transport… it has all the important boxes ticked.

But does it bring something ‘special’ to the Macan lineup? Do we really need a model between the S and the Turbo?

The Macan has impressed all of us here at CarAdvice, so much so our CEO Andrew Beecher bought his own 190kW/580Nm Macan S Diesel – complete with dental-floss de-badging mods!

It is a car that does everything you expect, for its size, shape and Weissach pedigree. Porsche sold over 2000 Macans in 2015, and almost 1100 in the first five months of 2016, hinting at the popularity of the ‘baby Cayenne’.

We know an ‘entry’ level four-cylinder model is on the way, and if the Cayenne and Panamera are anything to go by, there will be a Hybrid before too long as well. But Porsche is the master of brand leverage, so does throwing the famed GTS badge on the mid-size SUV give it any true credibility?

Powered by a retuned version of the 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo engine as found in the petrol Macan S, the $109,500 (before options and on-road costs) GTS offers 265kW at a screaming 6000rpm with 500Nm of torque available between 1750 and 4000 rpm.

This increase of 15kW and 40Nm over the S is gained through more efficient induction and exhaust flow and upping the turbo boost pressure to 1.2-bar (the S runs 1-bar of boost).

Porsche claims that with the optional ($2690) Sport Chrono package and it’s ‘Sports Plus’ mode, the Macan GTS will gobble up the 0-100km/h sprint in five-seconds flat. That’s the same as the iconic 964 ‘Bad Boys’ 911 Turbo, in a five-seat, 1900kg school-run package.

Mike Lowrey approves.

It’s still off the pace of the $130,300 (before options and on-road costs) Macan Turbo though, which, with its 294kW/550Nm 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 clocks the tonne in just 4.8 seconds.

But there is more to the Macan GTS than just outright performance.

For a start, it presents the first time you can buy a red Macan – without incurring the $11,390 ‘paint to sample’ option cost. The Carmine Red metallic (a $5800 option) suits the size and shape of the Macan perfectly and certainly turns heads in traffic.

You get blacked out trim components around the windows and grille, GTS branded side-blades, black 20-inch RS Spyder Design wheels and a Porsche sports exhaust with four black tips.

Inside, there is a GTS-specific interior that is swathed in Alcantara and GTS stitching. Our car features the optional ($8990) GTS interior package which adds some extra detail including a lovely Alcantara dash-top and a cool red-backed tachometer. Part of me wishes it illuminated red at night though.

Yes there are still a bazillion buttons on the console, and a few more on the roof (took me a while to find the parking-sensors one up there) but the ergonomics are great and once you get used to where all the key functions are, it does become quite usable.

The rolling menu-selection buttons on the steering wheel are among the nicest in any car we’ve driven too.

Porsche’s trademark instrument setup is clear and easy to read,  and changing the display on the clever ‘third-pod’ is still a great way to cycle through important data.

New for the 2016/17 specification cars is an upgraded media system which features Apple CarPlay integration (for an extra $1090). The navigation function is good, and the screen has a predictive movement capability that overlays buttons and other display items when your hand moves near.

The rest of the implementation though is pretty ordinary. While the trip computer can be configured to show some cool data like GPS height and satellite availability, the data displays are basic at best, and while everything works, it’s not the easiest menu structure to navigate and the twin-rotary dial inputs can be confusing. Worth noting too is the large panel below the screen that hides the navigation SD card reader – it just looks a bit naff.

But you don’t buy a Porsche, even an SUV Porsche, for the radio.

Fire up the Macan with a twist of the Panamera-shaped key (push-button start is an extra $1690) and the bark from the standard sport-exhaust is supremely satisfying.

You can run about in comfort mode, but given you have paid more than $16k extra for the privilege of the GTS, pop it all into Sports (or Sports Plus) for that proper Porsche experience and get on your way.

Around town, the GTS still exhibits the ‘daily friendly’ nature that has made the Macan such a winner. Yes, the ride is firm, the steering is heavy and the throttle twitchy – but none are too much to bear even around inner-urban Melbourne, even if running everything in ‘all sport’ settings.

It is a Porsche after all.

The seven-speed PDK gearbox is smooth when left to automatic mode, but easy to use in its manual setting thanks to the excellent placement of the paddles behind the steering wheel.

But running errands about town is not where a Porsche really shines, so we took the GTS to some more driver-friendly tarmac to see how it ran when let off the leash a bit.

Suffice to say, this is the way you need to drive a Macan.

Powering out of a corner, the high-rev changes through second and third are almost brutal in their swiftness. The sports exhaust now screaming like a wood chipper that is wickedly munching through chunks of mountain ash.

You can feel a slight wiggle from the rear end on corner exit, but the AWD system sorts that quickly, the traction light blinking as an indicator to how much fun you are having. You can even see the torque split vary on one of the ‘third-pod’ screens, but we’d recommend knowing this and just looking through the windscreen instead.

Porsche’s trick PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) system constantly adjusts the dampening rates of the shock absorbers to help provide the most direct-feeling drive. It is firm, and you will feel some of the harsher bumps, but if you are after a soft and floaty ride, then you are probably shopping in the wrong dealership.

Response through the rev range is impressive, and if you do find the car in too-high a gear, you are only a couple of taps away from returning to that light-switch response and the super-addictive wood chipper noise…

The brakes too are impressive given they are the standard setup (360mm front, 330mm rear rotors) and not the $18,990 optional carbon ceramic units. The GTS will wash off speed faster than it puts it on, allowing you to safely get back on the gas and repeat the whole process again.

This is a proper sports car in the body of a hatchback. It’s just as easy to drive fast as it is to drive slow. Plus it is roomy, functional and practical to boot.

We even saw ‘reasonable’ fuel consumption for the week, given the car was almost exclusively driven in Sports mode. Porsche claims a combined cycle of 9.2L/100km and we recorded 13.1L/100km. That said, on sustained freeway driving the car settled well below 9L/100km.

Unfaultable? Well not exactly.

You may have noticed a string of options peppered throughout this review. For a $110k prestige car, having to pay an extra $990 for heated seats seems a bit much. In fact we worked out you could more than double the list price of the Macan GTS by ticking option boxes.

Some of the newer active and passive safety technology, that is now becoming standard on more ‘everyday’ brands is included among the option set. We really shouldn’t have to wait for a government or industry mandate for tech like AEB to be included where it is available, especially at this price point.

Now I know and you know there are two types of people – those who complain about Porsche option pricing and those who own Porsches. But in this market, where the likes of Mercedes-AMG and BMW are throwing the kitchen sink at cars to improve their overall value proposition, there are some optional items that really should come standard on the Macan.

And here is the other thing.

The GTS is a bit special, but it is not so close to the Turbo that it can take the performance crown, nor is it faster-enough than the S (even the Diesel) to really warrant a jump up.

What the GTS actually does is show how good the Macan S is as a package, and why it is, in effect, even better value.

The GTS is for those wanting to raise an eyebrow or turn a head. The Turbo still reigns supreme when it comes to outright pace and top-tier punch (until the Turbo S comes along…), and the S in either petrol or diesel is still the best buying performance crossover hatch SUV machine on the market.

But for those who want to be a bit different, the GTS is still one hell of a fantastic package that will not disappoint.

Click on the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser.

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