FIRST DRIVE | The 2020 Porsche Macan GTS is an accomplished athlete

14 February 2020 - 07:41 By Mark Smyth
Black trim elements give the GTS a really sporty look. Picture: SUPPLIED
Black trim elements give the GTS a really sporty look. Picture: SUPPLIED

In a modern context, Porsche first re-introduced its GTS or Gran Turismo Sport badge on the Cayenne in 2007. It’s kind of like a black series with its black trim but also because of its darker side, a more sporty version than the regular models but not quite as full on as the Turbo.

Now Porsche has given the GTS treatment to its 718 Boxster and Cayman models, with the headline news being the introduction of the six-cylinder 4.0l that’s already debuted in the GT4 and Spyder. We can’t talk about those yet though due to an embargo so make sure you’re back in these pages next week.

What we can talk about is the new Macan GTS which goes on sale in SA next month at a price of R1,349,000.

On a sunny day in Lisbon, Portugal, our Miami Blue model really stood out, although not as much as one in viper green with green wheels. It’s a personal preference, but we avoided that one and felt more comfortable with the 20-inch RS Spyder wheels in matt silver and black.

The black theme continues on the Porsche lettering and other items, as well as black brushed aluminium trim inside to go with the leather GTS interior package. It’s a great combination, one that stands out a little more from other models and while some of the colour choices might seem to be more about being fashionable, there’s no missing the engineering that makes the Macan the closest thing you can get to a sports car SUV.

Beneath the clamshell bonnet sits a 2.9l bi-turbo V6 producing 280kW and 520Nm. Peak torque is between 1,750-5,000rpm, but to get the most from the power you need to push the needle to over 5,200rpm. Once there the active exhaust produces a great soundtrack although it’s not so easy to find the right spot if you want to hear it crackle and pop.

The interior is luxurious and sporty with good levels of equipment. Picture: SUPPLIED
 The interior is luxurious and sporty with good levels of equipment. Picture: SUPPLIED

Narrow roads and oncoming locals ensured that the initial part of our drive was spent sedately exploring the local scenery and occasionally taking a sharp intake of breath. Here the Macan showed its comfortable side, with Porsche’s active suspension management soaking up the bumps and the engine happy to keep things gentle. Push harder and the chassis lowers by up to 15mm as the Macan hunkers down.

At more than 4.6m long and nearly 2m wide, the Macan is larger than a Range Rover Evoque but it’s way more agile and capable of devouring corners in a way that allows you to leave behind the daily commute it is probably most used for and explore its fun side.

It’ll hit 100km/h in a claimed 4.9 seconds, 4.7 if you have the Sport Chrono package, 0.3 seconds quicker than its predecessor, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. It’s incredibly well engineered, with steering that consistently embarrasses rivals and an ability to tackle corners in a way that makes you argue with yourself about the performance SUV versus sports car debate.

The engine delivers its power instantly and flicks rapidly through the seven speeds of the PDK gearbox. It’s best left to its own devices because the paddles require long fingers. Twisty, open roads are its playground, where it sweeps through corners with impressive levels of grip while the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes fitted to our car allowed for some confident last-minute braking.

On the road the GTS is a comfortable cruiser but also an impressive athlete. Picture: SUPPLIED
On the road the GTS is a comfortable cruiser but also an impressive athlete. Picture: SUPPLIED

Options include adaptive air suspension, Porsche Torque Vectoring, 21-inch wheels and a full carbon ceramic brake package, allowing you to spec up the GTS to a point where you can play with your 911-owning friends on a Sunday morning breakfast run.

Not many will, of course, but this is the thing about the GTS. It’s packed with potential. As a daily driver it provides all the practicality you want from an SUV, but if you’re buying it because you want a Porsche to do what a Porsche is engineered to do, then you won’t be disappointed. 

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