2020 Porsche Macan GTS review: Emphasis on performance


The GTS looks great in Carmine Red.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

At this point, GTS in Porsche parlance should just stand for Get This Spec. The company’s GTS-badged cars strike the best balance between outright performance and daily drivability, and that’s as true in this 2020 Macan as it is in any 718, 911, Cayenne or Panamera. I’ve driven the S and I’ve driven the Turbo, but the GTS is the Macan I’d park in my garage.

Like

  • Outstanding chassis balance
  • Sports car-like steering
  • Sonorous sport exhaust
  • Robust infotainment tech

Don’t Like

  • Twin-turbo V6 lacks character
  • Gets expensive in a hurry

The GTS uses a detuned version of the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 from the Macan Turbo. Here, the engine produces 375 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque — noticeable reductions compared to the Turbo’s 434 hp and 405 lb-ft. But on the road, you’d have a hard time noticing the difference. This engine lacks visceral drama, though I think that’s less egregious when the associated output numbers are lower. The GTS at least makes up for this somewhat with a standard sport exhaust, which adds some sonority to the powertrain’s buttoned-up demeanor.

Porsche says the GTS can accelerate to 60 mph in as little as 4.5 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package, which is 0.4 seconds slower than the Macan Turbo. I genuinely don’t believe that less-than-half-a-second discrepancy is something anyone can feel during daily driving on public roads. And since the engine’s torque is fully available from just 1,750 rpm, there’s never a lack of urgency to the GTS’ acceleration, whether pulling away from a stoplight or just trying to shoot the gap between slower cars on the highway.

The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is always up for an impromptu downshift via the steering wheel-mounted paddles, and the Sport and Sport Plus modes — the latter is part of the $1,360 Sport Chrono package — alter the throttle and transmission programming just enough to liven up the Macan’s character. You could drive the GTS in Sport mode all day, every day without it ever feeling high-strung, while Sport Plus is best left for tighter sections of winding roads where you’ll want to take advantage of its tendency to hold gears up near the engine’s redline.

The GTS’ powertrain is fine, but the chassis, steering and brakes really make this Macan feel special. Porsche’s adaptive air suspension comes standard and can lower the Macan by 10 millimeters in Sport and Sport Plus modes. Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM) dampers are a perfect match to the air-ride system, delivering a smooth ride on broken pavement while keeping the GTS taut and composed on smooth stretches of canyon roads. Even with my tester’s upsized 21-inch wheels and staggered 265/40 front and 295/35 rear tires, the Macan never feels too stiff or too floaty for any given scenario. Honestly, the ride quality might be the GTS’ single best attribute.

These 21-inch wheels and low-profile ties don’t ruin the GTS’ ride.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Porsche always gets its cars’ steering right, and the Macan GTS is no exception. The weight and communication on offer are more akin to that of a 718 Cayman than any other compact SUV, with a right-sized steering wheel adorned with only a few redundant controls. My tester has Porsche’s Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB), which were kind of bad when they first launched on the Cayenne, but have since been reworked with new pads, better pedal feel and a more progressive stopping experience. Now, these brakes are quite good and reduce dust buildup on the wheels. Whether they’re worth the $3,490 upgrade over the perfectly fine standard steel brakes, though, is hard to say.

One option worth adding is Porsche’s brake-based torque-vectoring tech, for $1,500. This ability to modulate power from side to side at the rear axle improves the Macan’s cornering reflexes, making this already-sharp little crossover even more entertaining. You’ll never feel it working, but you’ll find it easier to keep up with smaller, more powerful sports cars on mountain roads.

Going for the GTS gets you the Sport Design exterior treatment, with black-painted exterior accents, LED headlights and a darker tint to the rear taillight bar. Inside, you get sport seats wrapped in leather, though you can have the whole cabin done up in Alcantara suede with Carmine Red stitching as part of the $4,790 GTS Interior Package. Like all Macans, the GTS is plenty comfortable for driver and passenger up front, but the rear seats are awfully small, even by compact SUV measurements.

The PCM infotainment tech is new but the rest of the interior is showing its age.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The Macan got a welcome tech upgrade as part of a refresh in 2018 and now runs Porsche’s Communication Management infotainment software on a 10.9-inch touchscreen. PCM continues to impress with its quick responses to inputs, online search tools, bright graphics and reconfigurable home screen. A Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay are standard, but Android Auto is still a no-go. Too bad.

Look below the touchscreen, though, and you’ll find a sea of controls on the console — a reminder that the Macan is a bit older than Porsche’s other models. Sure, the rows of buttons are clearly labeled and easy to use, they just look outdated, especially compared to the flush, backlit designs of Porsche’s newer products.

I’d love to tell you about all of the Macan’s standard driver-assistance features, but as is the case with every Porsche, all the good stuff costs extra and is available a la carte. A surround-view camera is $1,200. You can buy lane-change assist and lane-keeping assist for $700 apiece, or just spend $1,380 and get them as part of a bundle. Adaptive cruise control comes in for an additional $1,170, and if you want freaking keyless entry, that’s an extra $800, too. Sheesh.

The Macan is hands-down the best-driving compact luxury SUV.


Steven Ewing/Roadshow

There are myriad options available for the Macan GTS, so its $73,450 starting price (including $1,350 for destination) is just that: the start. My Carmine Red tester is a German-spec model that Porsche flew over for testing, so I don’t have an exact price for the SUV you see here. Playing around to the best of my ability on Porsche’s configurator, I’m going to guesstimate an as-tested price of $94,000 out the door, give or take a few Benjamins.

If you compare price tags, the Macan GTS is sort of a hard sell against competitors like the BMW X3 M40i or Mercedes-AMG GLC43, both of which can be nicely equipped for less than the Porsche’s starting MSRP. But the Macan — especially the GTS — is the best-driving, best-balanced SUV of the bunch and handily punches above its weight. If performance is a priority, you definitely get what you pay for. 



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