YOU MIGHT CALL TO MIND PORSCHE’S SPORTS CAR RANGE BEFORE ITS FAMILY OF SUVS. But, the link between the two isn’t as tenuous as you might first think.
This 2016 Macan GTS, for instance, offers thumping Porsche performance while still checking boxes for practicality, comfort, and luxury.
Not only that, but SUVs like the Macan and the Cayenne that came before it, are where Porsche sells the most vehicles. It is the success of these cars that underpins the company's balance sheet, and, arguably, allows it to continue to produce such high-calibre sporting machinery.
Vehicle Style: Prestige medium SUV
Price: $109,200 (plus on-roads), $137,610 (as tested)
Engine/trans: 265kW/500Nm 3.0 6cyl turbo petrol | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 9.2 l/100km | Tested: 11.6 l/100km
Even as a mid-range model the Macan GTS out-guns most of its medium SUV competitors, and there’s always the more powerful Macan Turbo if you want to go even faster.
Pricing for the Macan GTS starts at an un-Porsche-like $109k, before on-roads and options, putting the newest addition to the Macan range within the achievable reach of plenty of upmarket buyers.
With a sweet twin-turbo V6 engine, and a plush but sporty interior, not to mention an exterior treatment that bristles with subtle menace, the Macan GTS is ready to do what any Porsche does so well.
- Standard equipment: Partial leather trim, eight-way electrically adjustable front seats, sports steering wheel, heat insulating windows, powered tailgate, instrument cluster display screen, bi-Xenon headlights, auto lights and wipers, three-zone climate control
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and Aux inputs with MP3 playback, CD player, DAB+ digital radio
- Options fitted: GTS Leather and Alcantara $8990, Panoramic roof $4540, Sport Chrono Package $2690, Bose audio $2650, Surround View camera $1660, Heated front seats $990, Apple CarPlay $1090
- Cargo volume: 500 litres minimum, 1500 litres maximum
"Luxury", meet "sporting intent". The Macan GTS steps effortlessly between luxury SUV and sports car by combining family-sized comfort with the requisite sporting touches.
Up front a pair of deeply bolstered sports seats hold occupants in place when things get heated, but are comfortable enough to make hours on the road pass by without complaint.
In the rear there’s on-par medium SUV space; the rear bench is better suited to carrying two passengers rather than three, but an extra can be squeezed in for short dashes.
Unlike so many SUVs, Porsche avoids the squeezed window-line that afflicts so many others in its class. Passengers, both front or rear, can enjoy an airy cabin (no claustrophobic forehead-skimming rear-roofline here), with the added benefit of slim A-pillars aiding outward visibility.
The interior is smartle and finely crafted. The optional GTS Leather and Alcantara Package sees 'millimetre perfect' contrast stitching, and swathes of luxurious-feeling Alcantara plus a red tacho and red seatbelts to cement the sporting feel.
While it might seem button-heavy compared to more minimalist interiors, the layout offers quick-and-easy adjustment, without the need to navigate a stream of click-through touchscreen menus, not to mention the super-precise and consistent click-feel of every button.
There is a touchscreen (of course) but in an age where every inch matters, the Macan sticks with a relatively small (given the size of the borders around it) 7.0-inch screen, backed up by a multi-function display tucked into the instrument cluster.
Bose audio, and Connect Plus, both options fitted to this vehicle, endow the Macan with A-grade sound reproduction, while including importable Apple CarPlay connectivity.
Boot space behind the powered tailgate measures 500 litres with the rear seats in place, or up to 1500 litres with the rear seats folded.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 265kW/500Nm 3.0 litre twin-turbo petrol V6
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic, all wheel drive
- Suspension: Four-wheel independent adaptive suspension
- Brakes: Six-piston front calipers, 360mm ventilated discs, single-piston rear calipers, 330mm rear discs
- Steering: Electromechanical power steering
- Towing capacity: 2400kg braked, 750kg unbraked
While it isn’t the most powerful Macan in the range, the GTS provides a thoroughly capable hi-po powertrain. As a middle-point to the range, its figures and performance are impressive to say the least.
For GTS duty, the engine outputs sit at 265kW @ 6000rpm and 500Nm of torque from 1650 to 4000rpm. This allows for a potential 5.0 second dash from 0-100km/h when fitted with Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package.
To get that grunt to the pavement the Macan runs a seven-speed PDK (or dual clutch) automatic and rear-biased all-wheel-drive.
Give it the right stretch of road and the Macan feels more the performance thoroughbred than an SUV. This is a very potent machine with track-like handling and its Porsche breeding evident the moment you firewall the accelerator.
The reserves of power and the surplus of torque make bounding up mountain roads, or an extra squeeze of acceleration for overtaking, as simple as a quick flex of the ankle. It's fast, simple as that.
Combine that with the lightning-quick response from the gearbox, which delivers imperceptibly rapid gear changes, and the Macan feels vastly more willing and capable than its SUV-styled exterior might suggest.
However, the real joy compared to other medium SUVs has to be the steering. Incredibly precise, able to scythe from bend to bend, overflowing with feedback, and weighted ‘just so’.
Adjustable dampers (Porsche Active Suspension Management) offer three stages of control, progressively flattening body roll as you work through the settings. But at their firmest, there’s no jarring or crashing.
The only downside to this handling performance is that, even in the most comfortable setting, there’s a firm underlying sportiness that is hard to avoid.
The soundtrack too is pretty thrilling. Of course you can 'shush' it via the console mounted switch, but leave the valves of the bi-modal exhaust wide open and the Macan GTS delights with its primal scream.
And then, with all the weekend escapism behind, the Macan GTS can settle back into a schedule of school runs and morning commutes.
Easy and refined enough for a docile amble through peak hour traffic, it is just as capable navigating shopping centre car parks and cobble-paved suburban streets as it is when pointed at a winding mountain pass.
Some very serious six-piston calipers clamp the 360mm front brake rotors, with 330mm single-piston units at the rear, lurking behind the 20-in ‘RS Spyder’ design alloy wheels.
Stamp them hard and the Macan GTS will come to a halt a lot quicker than you feel your face can allow, providing genuine emergency reassurance. But, despite that high capacity stopping power, the Macan GTS can be easily and smoothly nursed through stop-start traffic.
ANCAP rating: The Porsche Macan has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Eight airbags (dual front, front side, rear side, and curtain) pretensioners on front and outboard rear seat belts, parking sensors, reversing camera, electric stability and traction control are included as standard on the Macan GTS
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres
Servicing: 12 months/15,000km intervals. Pricing may vary between dealers, but bank on a starting point of around $700-800 per service, with a major service every four years at more than double that amount, check with your local Porsche dealer for specifics.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
For performance and luxury, sister-company Audi has your number with the SQ5 Plus, while BMW will try to lure you with the swoopy style of the X4 35i and 35d.
Worthy machines indeed, but the Macan has their measure (and the badge).
Jaguar is now a player in the SUV market with its F-Pace, providing striking looks backed up by strong performance, while those looking for something more exclusive (if not quite as fast) may be tempted by the slightly larger Maserati Levante.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With a uniquely sporting style, and a brilliant sportscar feel from the wheel, the Macan GTS strikes that elusive balance between enthusiast appeal - this is a wonderfully-focussed and potent driver's car - and family practicality.
The GTS sporting cues make a sensible accompaniment to the sporting style of your Boxster or 911 parked alongside it in the garage. But, SUV style and practicality aside, this Porsche is "all Porsche".
However, where the Macan was one of the few premium performance SUVs on the market just a few short months ago, it now has a posse of new competitors - toting Italian, German and British sporting heritages - making the decision for buyers just a little less clear-cut.
But only the Macan has the Porsche badge.
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