Porsche doesn’t need some shlub like me to review its products. They’re going to sell tens of thousands of vehicles every year regardless of what I say, all while making untraceable sums of money. “Hello, Switzerland? Yes, I’d like to open a checking account.”
Engine: 3.0L twin-turbo V6
Output: 360 hp, 369 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 17 city, 23 hwy, 19 combined
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 13.8 city, 10.3 hwy, 12.3 combined
US As-Tested Price: $76,110 including $1,050 for delivery
CAN Estimated Price: $81,100 including $1,250 for delivery
And yet, for some unknown reason, they gave me a Macan GTS to evaluate for an entire week. Clearly, this must have been some sort of clerical blunder because I certainly don’t deserve such treatment. Whoever approved the loan has probably been fired for gross negligence – possibly even jailed.
Still, I’m not one to let a good opportunity go to waste. This sporty compact utility vehicle promises best-in-class dynamics with plenty of luxury, style and day-to-day practicality.
What’s New for 2018?
For the latest model year this Porsche soldiers on without any significant alterations, but that’s fine with me. The Macan GTS is a machine so finely tuned, so well dialed in, any changes are more likely to screw things up than make a substantive improvement.
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Battling high-end versions of models like the Audi Q5, Jaguar F-Pace and Mercedes-Benz GLC, this little Porsche crossover has its work cut out. But even when competitors brandish their big guns, there’s no need to worry; the GTS can defeat them all, with prestige, performance, and pedigree only Porsche can provide.
And drivers have taken note of the Macan’s outstanding attributes because it’s Zuffenhausen’s top-selling nameplate in the U.S. Some 21,000 and change were delivered here in 2017, which means more than a third of all Porsches sold in ‘Murica last year were Macans.
Strength Through Diversity
Helping it appeal to such a diversity of customers is a broad range of available models. Neatly cleaving this range in two, the GTS model is the middle child, offering greater performance than base versions without the bankrupting sticker price of a top-shelf model.
Base price for an entry-level Porsche Macan with a four-cylinder engine is just shy of $49,000. In comparison, the even more desirable GTS variant kicks off at about 70 grand, though with a few options onboard including the Sport Chrono Package, navigation system and Sapphire Blue Metallic paint, the model I was loaned for testing rang up for a not-terribly-unreasonable $76,110, a figure that includes $1,050 in destination fees.
At that price, our test GTS came with features like staggered-width 20-inch wheels (the fronts measure nine-inches across, the rears, 10), automatically dimming mirrors, rear-window shades, and a fetching Sapphire Blue Metallic paint job, which added $690 to the bottom line.
Other goodies include red brake calipers, bi-xenon headlamps, three-zone automatic climate control and a key-fob that looks like a model car. And, of course, Porsche being Porsche, you can load the Macan up with scads of pricey options, extra-cost items like adaptive cruise control, 18-way power seats, custom paint, a rear-seat entertainment system and much more. They even allow you to choose the color of the seatbelts and instrument faces — it doesn’t come cheap, though.
But the only numbers most of you probably care about pertain to the Macan’s powertrain. Nestled between its front fenders resides a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, one sporting a 90-degree bank angle, which makes it quite broad shouldered and probably a pretty difficult to squeeze into the engine compartment. Still, it’s good for 360 horsepower and 369 foot-pounds of torque, the former peaking at 6,000 rpm, the latter being fully available between 1,650 and 4,000 revs.
Helping deliver those impressive figures are things like direct fuel injection, dry-sump lubrication, and a 9.8-to-1 compression ratio. All that twist is sent to the pavement through a standard and fully variable “Active All-Wheel-Drive” system as well as a lightning-quick seven-speed Porsche Dobbelkupplung automatic gearbox. For those of you that care, fuel consumption is rated at 17 miles per gallon city, 23 highway, and 19 combined.
Ensuring I never hit any of those EPA estimates, this machine’s acceleration falls just short of explosive, with it blitzing to mile-a-minute velocity is as little as 4.8 seconds when equipped with the $1,290 Sport Chrono Package. Cheap out, and plan on reaching 60 two-tenths of a tick later, though that’s still a scalding pace for anything weighing nearly 4,200 pounds.
Aside from rapid acceleration, the Macan GTS’s silky-smooth V6 engine makes glorious noises at full song, producing a tune dominated by intake growl. And it only gets better if you push the double-barrel-shotgun button located on the center console. It activates the Sports Exhaust System, which allows this vehicle to bellow operatically from both ends.
As you’d expect, the standard dual-clutch transmission is equally brilliant, seamlessly changing gears in normal driving and ripping through its ratios when you’re in a hurry. Shifts can be completed in less than the blink of an eye, though if you’re just driving normally, this gearbox can swap between ratios like the best torque-converter-equipped automatic. The only complaint about this arrangement, and it’s a minor one, is that when taking off from a stop, it can feel a bit disconnected, a little lethargic, as the appropriate clutch hooks up and sends torque further down the drivetrain.
Underway, the GTS’s steering initially feels too light in your hands, but you soon grow to appreciate its near-telepathic responsiveness. This electromechanical power steering system is a precision instrument that makes it feel like you can slice the road into tiny slivers, even better than a veteran sushi chef plating up some fresh sashimi. It’s remarkably good for any car, let alone a utility vehicle.
Providing ample flexibility, the GTS also features standard adjustable air suspension that lets you change the ride height and stiffness. I found myself just leaving it in comfort mode because it smoothed out our battered Midwestern roads nicely without any major handling tradeoffs.
The Macan’s interior is a no-BS zone, with an overall design that’s simple and timeless. The dashboard is relatively horizontal with a large center console jutting outward from the bottom, housing the vehicle’s most important controls. Up front, you also find super-supportive Alcantara-trimmed seats.
As for passengers, the rear seat is a bit tight; it’s comfortable enough, but could provide a bit more room for leggy riders. One possible trade-off for this is a cargo area that’s unexpectedly generous, providing nearly 18 cubic feet of space with the seats up and 53 with them down.
Unlike other automakers, Porsche has adorned the Macan’s center console with a seemingly insane number of physical buttons. But what looks like madness at first glance is actually highly usable. Once you learn the general location of each switch, it’s a cakewalk to feel and operate them with minimal distraction.
What’s less convenient is the infotainment system. It’s just not all that intuitive, plus they have the gall to charge you extra for navigation. In addition to this, some of the GTS’s instrument-cluster displays are could have been ripped off a graphing calculator; they’re seriously low-resolution, though at least you get a reconfigurable, full-color screen on the far-right side.
The Verdict: 2018 Porsche Macan GTS Review
There’s precious little to gripe about here; the Porsche Macan GTS is a useful and highly entertaining crossover, one that melds unimpeachable dynamics with startling straight-line speed. Despite the scalding performance, it’s still a paragon of good taste and high quality.
Feeling like a four-door Cayman on stilts, the Macan GTS is a wonder to drive, likely serving up the best dynamics in its segment. But you probably didn’t need me to tell you that and frankly, neither did Porsche.
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