First Drive: Porsche Macan GTS

The invitation to experience the first drive of Porsche’s new Macan GTS as New Zealand moved out of Lockdown was music to Steve Vermeulen’s ears. And as an inaugural on-road experience for Level 2, it certainly didn’t disappoint.

May 14, 2020

With the end of enforced hibernation upon us, the to-do list had become a mile long. Top of the list: a haircut and a Flat White.

But first and foremost: pick up the Macan GTS.  The party trick with the Macan is that, despite being an SUV (of no tiny stature, I hasten to add), is its superb balance of practicality and sporting capabilities.  

The GTS variant, which can sprint to 100km/h in just 4.7 seconds, amplifies performance even further. An ideal car then with which to accomplish my Level 2 prioritiesas well as satisfy my itch to drive for the sake of driving. 

In black on black, this one doesn’t look too shabby either. Hunkered down thanks to an optional air suspension package and atop the standard 20” alloysthe GTS brings an aggressive stance to the Macan’s already pleasing body lines and looks best, in my opinion, from the backIt’s here at the rear that the new full width LED stripconsistent with the latest 911, really sets the car apart from other SUVs on the roadAdditionally, there is also some styling evolution evident at the front bumper, bonnet, and headlamps. 

The cabin benefits from a new layout recently adopted by the 911. The result is a much simpler, cleaner aesthetic, while usability is also greatly enhanced with the 10.9” high-resolution touch screen. Here the driver can access the intuitive and responsive Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system, with permanent connectivity, online navigation systems and phone integration with voice control. It is one of the better infotainment systems to use and well implemented in the Macan. 

Also fitted with the optional, sportier GT steering wheel from the 911 and the Sports Chrono pack, you’re quickly reminded of the brand’s sporting heritage from the driver’s seat. If you need further affirmation, flicking the sports chrono dial to Sport+ and accelerating through Auckland’s Waterview Tunnel is a sure-fire way to appreciate the new 2.9-litre V6 turbo powerplant’s raucous spit-and-pop symphony on over-run. 

A derivative from the Volkswagen Group and shared in great cars like the RS4, the engine is slightly smaller in capacity than the outgoing 3.0-litre GTS, yet with slightly more power, now delivering 280kW. More importantly, it moves the turbo to inside the ‘V’ of the engine, which alters the torque delivery a surprising amount. 

It’s very slightly peakier, but in a good way. On a delightfully traffic-free backroad on the outskirts of the city, the Macan urges a little more technique from the driver and rewards accordingly. There is still plenty of low-down torque from the 520Nm unit, but matching ratios from the quick-shifting 7-speed PDK transmission, and focussing more on throttle modulation, pleasingly ensures a more engaging drive than the past generation delivered. 

The adaptive air suspension and larger brakes also afford the GTS confidence on tight and twisty roads that bely it’s 1910kg weight.  

Naturally, braking distances are longer than those of a Porsche sports car and there’s higher centre of gravity too, but with excellent 265 tyres upfront and 295’s at the rear, there’s ample contact area with the road. You can pull the car up abruptly and place it where you want in the turn with confidence. Handling makes for a very enjoyable combo with the new engine’s characteristics.  

And that’s the Macan; it’s an all-rounder of the highest order. Not dimensionally overbearing, great for the mid-city errand run, practical to a fault and with genuine sporting credentials when you venture out of the urban environment. 

Just the thing for an essential, or non-essential, drive.