2021 Porsche Macan GTS 95B
The Macan GTS is the star of Porsche’s SUV range, not only in terms of balancing performance with practicality, but also insofar as offering huge value for money on the pre-owned Porsche scene… Words Dan Furr. Photography Dan Sherwood.
MAC AND TEASE The sweet spot of the Macan range: GTS
Porsche bringing along a sublime example of its awe-inspiring 904 Carrera GTS to park alongside the new-for-2020 Macan GTS at the model’s international media launch last year may have seemed a little incongruous. What, you might wonder, has a dinky little mid-engined sports car from the swinging sixties got to do with a thoroughly modern hunk of high-performance SUV? The badge is the obvious link, but is the marketing connection as tenuous as it might first appear? If any other manufacturer pulled the same stunt, you’d be asking questions, but this is our beloved Porsche, is it not?
Following the 1963 904 Carrera GTS was the 1980 924 Carrera GTS, a lightweight version of the 924 Carrera GT, built in limited numbers. And while Porsche cites the 1992 928 GTS (incidentally, the only flavour of 928 available from launch until the transaxle family of products was discontinued in 1995) as the pioneer of its modern-day GTS recipe, the GTS formula we now know and love was, arguably, first brought to market in 2007, taking the form of the Cayenne GTS. It set the template for where we are today, with more power, a firmer chassis, a louder exhaust and lots of black detailing. The model was such a success, the GTS nameplate went on to find a home as part of the second-generation Cayenne range. And before that, the badge arrived in the 997-generation 911 line-up ahead of the launch of the Panamera GTS in 2011, as well as the Boxster and Cayman GTS in 2014. Finally, in 2015, the Macan joined the GTS party. Using a turbocharged three-litre V6, just as the Macan S did, the Macan GTS came with 20bhp and 30lb-ft torque increases, bringing headline figures up to a juicy 355bhp and 369lb-ft.
The Macan GTS you’ll currently find in main dealer showrooms is powered by a 2.9-litre V6, but what it loses in displacement it makes up for with the same basic hardware found beneath bonnets of the current Macan Turbo, Cayenne and Panamera, boosting performance to a useful 375bhp and 384lb-ft torque. Is the buyer of an earlier Macan GTS going to notice the difference those extra ponies make in a real-world driving environment, though? The original model managed the benchmark sprint from zero to 62mph in five seconds dead (5.2 seconds without Sport Chrono). Clearly, it’s no slouch, despite weighing almost two tonnes. The answer is almost certainly no, even if owners of the newer 2.9-litre load lugger can pull away from lights a little quicker. Besides, a pre-owned first-generation Macan GTS loaded with desirable kit from the Porsche Individual Equipment list can currently be bought for half the price of an equivalent new Macan GTS. Not bad for a Porsche barely old enough for its first inspection at an MOT test centre. We suspect this somewhat softens the blow.
The 2017 Midnight Blue Macan GTS on the pages before you is one such bargain buy, slipping neatly into this themed issue of 911 & Porsche World. Those new to the Stuttgart marque’s output may consider a Macan something of a left-field choice for a first Porsche, but we beg to differ. For a start, though many of our readers dream of owning a super-spec 911, there’s every chance personal circumstance (kids, work, the need to transport a dog) means owning a sports car — even one with rear pews — simply isn’t feasible. An SUV, on the other hand, ticks most boxes. The problem, dear reader, is that historically, most SUVs have failed to live up to expectation when it comes to sporting prowess.
More specifically, many have felt far more ‘agricultural’ than an owner whose blood has its own octane rating is willing to accept. To make matters worse, these cargo carriers have often been bereft of luxury trim, with plasticky, relatively basic interiors deemed acceptable by their makers. This is especially true of SUVs manufactured in the Land of the Rising Sun. Befitting of a traditional off-roader, perhaps, but not a performance oriented vehicle wearing the Stuttgart crest. The Cayenne, of course, changed perceptions of what an SUV could be, coming of age with the 957 facelift and the introduction of the updated Cayenne Turbo, introduced in 2008 and dismissing any notion an SUV wasn’t a vehicle for true driving enthusiasts. Even so, it’s a hefty ol’ beast (and growing, as highlighted by the 911-aping third-generation Cayenne measuring a shade under five metres in length, almost twenty centimetres greater than the original Cayenne launched for the 2003 model year), and where you may consider a 911 too impractical, you may also think a Cayenne takes you from one extreme to another: too big, too bulky.
LEADER OF THE PACK
The Macan — that’s the Javanese word for tiger, in case you were wondering — sits neatly in the middle, occupying a space Porsche recognised it needed to fill to satisfy demand from enthusiasts of the massively popular crossover SUV segment. Part car, part utility vehicle, and now, Porsche’s biggest seller by a significant margin: in the first quarter of 2021 alone, Porsche shifted 22,458 Macans. During the same period, 9,133 new 911s were sold. Cayenne sales totalled 19,533 units. In fact, Porsche is currently selling the same number of all-electric Taycans as it is gasoline-hungry 911s. Moreover, the Macan has been Porsche’s most successful sales model since 2016 and we see no evidence of interest in this compact SUV — one of the smallest available, despite class-leading luggage capacity — waning. This may be enough to make a Porsche purist wince, but the fact of the matter is the Macan is the most sports-car-like SUV out there.
Despite last year’s Macan makeover, Porsche got everything right with the model first time around. Admittedly, the base model’s turbocharged two-litre inline-four felt a little underwhelming, chucking out a scant-for-these-times 249bhp and 273lb-ft torque, but even this relatively low output is more than adequate for commuting, dropping the kids at school and the weekly shop. Interestingly, this was the first Porsche to be powered by a four-cylinder engine since the 968. For those wanting a Macan to satisfy a life with a little more adventure, a range of V6s in both petrol and turbodiesel (the latter dropped entirely for 2020’s round of updates) variants was available, the flagship being the Macan Turbo’s twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre powerplant loaded with the optional Porsche Performance Package, developing 434bhp and 443lb-ft with a top speed of 168mph. You know, for when you’re, ahem, conducting speed trials on your private airstrip in Mexico. Or something.
Nestled between the perfectly respectable Macan S (335bhp and 339lbft) and the stock-spec Turbo (395bhp and 406lb-ft) is the GTS, as pictured here. Powered by the same three-litre biturbo as the S, but increasing power by way of a tweaked ECU map, a revised intake system, raised boost and less back pressure on the burbling sports exhaust, this really is the sweet spot of the range — it’s certainly the Macan we’d opt for — but improved output tells only half the story. You see, today’s GTS-badged Porsches have come to represent the very best compromise between all-out sports trim and real-world civility. Where a GT3, GT4 or even a Turbo might feel too track oriented, too hardcore for everyday use, and where an S might seem a tad underwhelming, too sensible, a GTS bridges the gap amazingly.
Often, modern special editions or fancy trim levels come across as though they’re the uninvited guest at a party, but where the GT3 is in the corner throwing up in a bucket and the S is constantly checking in with the babysitter, the GTS not only brought your favourite drink and a stack of nibbles, it came prepared with a playlist of party tunes. In other words, sandwiched between two perfectly respectable Macan model trims serving owners with different requirements, the GTS has forged an identity of its own, serving as the perfect everyday Porsche.
There’s enough firepower to draw a smile from ear to ear, but not at the expense of the comfort, refinement and, frankly, the usefulness you’ll want for the majority of the time you’re behind the wheel. The Macan GTS is that seldom achieved perfect blend of performance and practicality in equal measure.
The GTS was unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, going on general sale in early 2016, although customers in Porsche’s native Germany could preorder not long after the debut in Japan. Turbo-derived six-piston aluminium monobloc calipers with 360mm discs (single-piston stoppers with 330mm rotors at the rear) adequately slow from an achievable top speed of 159mph, with seven-speed dual-clutch PDK (no manual transmission was available) taking care of cog swapping, though we’d highly recommend getting to grips with the paddles for a more engaging driving experience. Suspension lowered by fifteen millimetres is standard, as are twenty-inch wheels and black exterior detailing (gloss up top, matte down below), including badges and GTS-labelled lower door-mounted side blades.
Four huge black tailpipes poke out from the rear, announcing their existence when the ‘loud’ setting for the exhaust is active.
Obviously, this is a fourby, and despite possessing sports car personality, the Macan GTS is more than capable of tackling rough terrain. Most of the power is sent to the rear wheels, mind, which you sense when slamming on the throttle as you pull out of a corner. You’ll want the included Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM)’s Sport setting active at this point, the standard Comfort mode feeling a little wallowy when asked to pull true performance duties. You’ll also need to keep in mind this is a Porsche carrying a significant amount of weight unladen, let alone when you’ve thrown your kitchen sink into the generous boot space. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a pre-owned Macan GTS kitted-out with the optional Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), which comprehensively outperform the GTS’s Turbo-robbed anchors, though be aware PCCB will want to throw you through the windscreen when detecting even the slightest amount of brake pedal pressure. It really is that good, but it needs to be, if for nothing more than the fact it added a fair few thou to the original purchase price of a GTS and commands a pretty penny for replacement consumables.
Should you feel you want to extract as much performance Porsche as you can from your GTS, Sport Plus mode stiffens the suspension further. Ludicrously so, in fact, delivering the kind of grip and cornering ability you might expect from a much smaller, much lower and much lighter Porsche. If you’re feeling particularly excitable, you can disable automatic vehicle stability settings and do your best to lose the back end, but no matter what driving mode you choose or where you take this magnificent Macan, one thing becomes immediately clear — the Macan GTS possesses a brilliantly balanced chassis complemented by precise and pleasingly weighted steering.
Desirable options include powerful LED headlights, air-suspension, Sport Chrono (say hello to the dash-mounted stopwatch) and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) with electronically locking differential. Oh, and a larger fuel tank to satisfy those who really do intend to use their Macan GTS for off-roading or other outdoor adventure. Sports seats, parking sensors, multi-function steering wheel and electric tailgate functionality are supplied as standard kit. GTS interiors are usually associated with Alcantara covered dashboards, matching seat centres, steering wheel and headlining, all held together by colour-coded double stitching, but this motorsport-inspired finish isn’t to everyone’s tastes. Indeed, as you can see from the photos on these pages, a full leather interior was offered to buyers in place of the soft suede-like synthetic material, thereby toning down the host Macan’s aggression. The same is true of the exterior — whereas many GTS-badged Macans announce their arrival through bright, bold paintwork, comparatively conservative colours less likely to draw attention proved popular, as seen on the superbly optioned GTS pictured here and owned by serial Porsche owner, Paul Crowder. It’s as though this GTS knows what it’s capable of, but rather than advertise the fact, it’s keeping its abilities to itself, at least until Paul hits the Sport button and drops the throttle, releasing all 355 of his Macan’s horses and turning a canter into a gallop. With its Cayenne and Macan offerings, our favourite manufacturer satisfied want from driving enthusiasts who previously struggled to identify an SUV which could double up as a well-trimmed car packing decent performance. A Macan GTS not only meets these requirements, it in exceeds them. Importantly, it also offers excellent value for money — at the time of writing, the cost of Macan GTS ownership can be secured for forty grand. That’s ten grand less than the price of obtaining a new base-model Boxster. Try fitting a wardrobe in the back of one of those.
Above Availability of less ‘shouty’ colours allow the 355bhp GTS to blend in with regular traffic. Below Less rear legroom than in other crossover SUVs means much more boot space, increasing with the back seats folded. Above Porsche GTS interiors are usually associated with Alcantara and coloured stitching, but toned-down full leather is an option. Below Effortlessly comfortable cabin boasts some of the best seats Porsche has ever produced. Above Almost as soon as the Macan was launched, it made its way to the top of Porsche’s sales charts, where it remains to this day.
FOUR HUGE BLACK TAILPIPES POKE OUT FROM THE REAR, ANNOUNCING THEIR EXISTENCE WHEN THE ‘LOUD’ SETTING FOR THE EXHAUST IS ACTIVE