Test Drive: 2018 Porsche Macan GTS

It’s hard to place the words “value” and “Porsche” in the same sentence, but hear me out. The letters GTS following any Porsche badge, be it 911, Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne, etc., have been a kind of lip-smacking gift to the cognoscenti – like those vitamin bottles emblazoned with “20 percent more!”, or an offer of free chili with any sandwich. Granted, GTS-badged Porsches, which favour agility over outright speed (leave that to the Turbo-badged cars) cost more than the S models on which they are based, yet the extra performance and kit baked in looks to be almost a bargain if you were try to spec an S up to GTS levels – which you can’t anyway because there are always special bits unique to the GTS models.

This tall hatchback thinks it’s a bloody sports car, and damn if you don’t feel like you’re driving some kind of jacked-up 911.

Which brings us to this 2018 Porsche Macan GTS, which, with a starting price of $76,000, packs considerably more vitamins and chili than the $61,400 Macan S.

For the past couple of decades we’ve heard manufacturers blathering on about crossovers with sporting pretensions, but I would posit Porsche has completely nailed it with the Macan GTS. There’s a reason why Jaguar benchmarked the Macan for its F-Pace crossover. This tall hatchback thinks it’s a bloody sports car, and damn if you don’t feel like you’re driving some kind of jacked-up 911, such is its sharp turn-in, response, balance, and dynamic cohesiveness.

Okay, it’s heavy and the Macan’s centre of gravity towers over any 911, but the fact that they cooked the Porsche sports car essence into this crossover while maintaining ride civility and respectably high levels of luxury is truly remarkable.

The Macan GTS takes the 3.0L twin-turbo V6 of the S and juices it up by 20 horses and 30 lb-ft to 360 hp at 6,000 rpm and 369 lb-ft, available from 1,650 to 4,000 rpm. This increase comes via a boost pressure increase of 0.2 bar to 1.2 bar, reworked intake and reduced back pressure. This shaves a couple of tenths off the 0–100 km/h time (down to 5.2 seconds or 5.0 with the optional Sport Chrono package) and top speed is up two klicks to 256 km/h.

The GTS goodness does not stop there. It gets standard air suspension with PASM (Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management) tuned for more body control and lowered by 10mm. The air suspension does provide adjustable ride height, if more ground clearance is needed.

Twenty-inch matte black alloys are standard, fitted with 265/45R20 tires up front and 295/40R20 at the rear. Bigger front brakes are from the Macan Turbo – 360mm front discs with six-piston fixed calipers – and out back, 330 mm discs. Bright red calipers, thank you. The standard sport exhaust barks a mellifluous song when activated, letting all within earshot know you’re packing a bit of extra heat.

The Macan GTS is surely swift, if not face-distorting. The V6 doesn’t really come on the boil until close to 4,000 rpm, so if you’re just doddling along and suddenly need some meaningful giddyup, it can take a couple of beats for the PDK to downshift and the turbos to start huffing. Then… well, hang on. Like all Porsches, the Macan GTS disguises its speed on open highway stretches, happy to loaf along in impoundment territory if you’re not paying attention. Why is everybody driving so slow?

Under normal circumstances the all-wheel-drive system sends all thrust to the rear wheels, but when necessary the system can direct up to 100 percent of torque to the front wheels. My week coincided with some absolutely horrendous winter weather, but this Macan (on pricey Michelin Latitude Alpin LA2 winter tires) went through it like Christmas tinsel through my dog. And it sure is fun to slide around on an open snowy bend.

Porsche’s PDK twin-clutch seven-speed transmission remains arguably the best in the biz, instantly swapping cogs with nary a vibration, shudder, or interruption in power delivery. Sport mode calls up a more aggressive program that keeps the engine in the meat of its power, and the PDK is always in the right gear, whether you’re cruising, accelerating hard, or braking into a series of complex bends. That said, the twin-clutch is happy to relinquish control to the metal paddle shifters that work with beautifully damped precision, calling up the gears with lightning speed.

What this tester didn’t have was the $1,500 Sport Chrono Package, which in the grand scheme of things is a drop in the financial bucket for what you get: the super-aggressive Sport Plus drive mode, launch control, dash-mounted stop watch and a special performance display. To be honest, I wasn’t really missing it, but for a Porsche sports car, Sport Chrono is a must have.

The Macan might not be a classic beauty, but it surely is distinctively Porsche-like with its tough stance and ovoid curves. Here it follows the visual cues of its GTS brethren – black trim, headlights and lettering. A first for Macan is available LED headlights.

Inside we get terrific GTS eight-way sport seats that hug you in all the right places. The heated steering wheel draws inspiration from that of the 918 super car, and Porsche’s new infotainment system features a larger, high-resolution touchscreen with pinch, scroll, and swipe functions, along with smartphone connectivity. Porsche Connect provides Apple CarPlay integration – but not Android Auto. Get the navigation and you can add LTE W-Fi hotspot capability.

The centre console is a riot of buttons, and I love ’em. Just about everything is at your fingertips, from HVAC to seat-heater controls to chassis and drive mode selection to the all-important Sport Exhaust button. If the new Porsche Panamera’s flat panels of haptic touch points is the way of Porsche’s future, and surely it is, then we should enjoy the Macan’s good-old-fashioned hard buttons while we can.

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You can’t get away with buying a Porsche without saddling up to the options bar, and this specimen sported a few extra tidbits: $240 Leather Package in black/garnet red, $1,650 adaptive cruise with collision mitigation, $790 Lane Change Assist, $1,960 Connect Plus (navigation, real time traffic information, Apple CarPlay, 4G LTE hotspot, Porsche Connect App Services, Car Connect Services), and the $3,870 Premium Package Plus that adds panoramic sunroof, proximity key, heated rear seats, auto-dimming mirrors, and Bose surround sound.

Indeed, the 2018 Porsche Macan GTS is the crossover for those who love to drive. And for those with deep pockets. The GTS package may represent value within the Macan lineup, but optioned up to $84,510, this tester still lacked the Sport Chrono Package and ventilated seats. Well, we of the impecunious press can whinge all we want – the Macan is Porsche’s top-selling vehicle. And on a personal note, were I to exist on a higher fiscal plane, a loaded white-over-red Macan GTS would live in my garage.

Correction (2018-02-28): The Macan GTS does not have an optional heated steering wheel – it is in fact standard equipment on all Macan models.

2018 Porsche Macan GTS
Engine Displacement: 3.0L
Engine Cylinders: V6
Peak Horsepower: 360 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Peak Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1,650–4,000 rpm
Fuel Economy: 13.8/10.3/12.3 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 510 / 1,500 L
2018 Porsche Macan GTS
Base Price $76,000
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,250
Price as Tested $85,860
Optional Equipment $8,510 – Leather Package in black/garnet red $240; adaptive cruise with collision mitigation $1650; Lane Change Assist $790; Connect Plus (navigation, real time traffic information, Apple CarPlay, 4G LTE hotspot, Porsche Connect App Services, Car Connect Services) $1,960; Premium Package Plus (panoramic sunroof, proximity key, heated rear seats, auto-dimming mirrors and Bose surround sound) $3,870
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 7.8
8 Styling
8 Powertrain
9 Quality
8 Comfort
8 Practicality
9 Drivability
8 Usability/Ergonomics
6 Fuel Economy
8 Features
6 Value