SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, California — “Who would buy this?” I asked myself shortly after grabbing the keys to this Rhodium Silver 2017 Porsche Macan GTS. This question would linger in the back of my mind for some time as this is not your average Porsche.
The athletically gifted middle child of the Macan family, the GTS comes standard with an air suspension and associated PASM system and rolls in on flat-black RS Spyder Design 20-inch wheels wearing sticky Michelin Latitude Sport 3 summer tires. Sized 265/45 up front and 295/45 at rear, the Macan GTS’ shoes are considerably wider than the 235/55 fronts and 265/50 rears found on the rest of the lineup.
Power comes from a reworked version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that’s found in the Macan S that now makes 360 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque — increases of 20 and 30, respectively. Peaks are hit a bit later, though, with peak power coming on line at 6,000 rpm instead of 5,500 and peak torque at 1,650 rpm instead of 1,450. It sounds like you’d expect a performance-tuned, 90-degree V-6 to sound — mostly a baritone drone that takes on some of the characteristics of a growl that can be made louder with the push of a button.
A seven-speed twin-clutch automatic handles distribution duty, sending the necessary amount of power to each wheel with the aid of Porsche’s optional torque vectoring system, which helps the crossover rotate through turns. Beefy 14.2-inch rotors with six-piston clamps sit behind the front wheels, while 13.0-inch rotors with a single-piston caliper are found in the back.
The overall effect is a package with performance befitting a modern performance car. On models equipped optional Sport Chrono Package, 60 mph is said to come in just 4.8 seconds, though our friends at Motor Trend managed to get there in just 4.4 seconds. Braking? Well, in the same MT test, the Macan GTS needed just 104 feet to go from 60 mph to a complete stop. And, before we conclude this numerical interlude, it put up a 0.94 g on the skidpad.
In the many corners of south Orange County’s Ortega Highway, body roll was controlled and matters were kept composed and neutral. The setup stiffens appropriately in Sport and Sport Plus modes (Porsche could easily simplify matters by keeping just Sport Plus as using the intermediate mode is akin to using midgrade 89 octane. You can, but why?), which also dial up the throttle response, though the suspension can be tightened up independently as well. Set things back to normal for the highway, and you get to enjoy a smooth and civil cruise.
Steering is top notch, with solid on-center feel, good progression, and just the right amount of resistance. You could make almost any car a joy to drive if you put this rack in. Not having access to a track, I didn’t push the brakes hard, but they grab quickly and progressively under normal conditions.
Thanks to the solid bolsters on the sport seats, your torso won’t flail around excessively while you hustle through corners. However, you’ll start feeling cramped after a while, making them less-than-idea for long-distance cruises. It’s about the only compromise to be found within the Macan GTS. Well, except for one minor detail.
You see, if you didn’t know better or have pictures to look at, you’d swear that I was talking about a well-engineered sports car. But I’m not, as this Porsche is, quite obviously, an SUV. Although it sits 0.9-inch lower than its siblings, the 63.0-inch-tall Macan GTS still sits several inches higher than performance-oriented offerings like the Mercedes-AMG E43 and Ford Mustang, and a foot or so higher than sports cars like the 911. And while Porsche’s suspension wizards were able to exorcise the instability that often comes with a higher-riding vehicle, there’s nothing they could do about the inherent higher center of gravity. No matter how good they are, mere mortals still have no chance against the laws of physics.
Except that it doesn’t matter. Not in the real world, where you’d have to be a complete nutter to push the Macan GTS hard enough for the higher center of gravity to impact performance. Hell, unless you’re at least a seasoned SCCA veteran, you won’t even be held back on a track. And you get the benefit of not having to worry about scraping your bumper on speed bumps or curbs.
Therein lies the beauty of the Macan GTS: It does not force the buyer to trade practicality for performance or vice versa. During the right month of the year, a Southern Californian could easily go surfing in the morning, do a track day at Willow Springs, and then go snowboarding in the afternoon without having to change cars or even swinging by home base. Fold the smallish back seats down, and you’ve got 53.0 cubic feet of space to work with, plenty for a wetsuit and towels, racing suit and helmet, winter gear, and both boards — provided you don’t surf on a longboard, which would have to go on the roof.
Would a wagon be even better? Of course. But following the departure of the dearly beloved Cadillac CTS-V Wagon, only Mercedes-AMG sells a performance-oriented wagon in the U.S., and the 603-hp E63 S is a bit much for many, especially given its north-of-$100k starting price. But despite not earning any extra style points, the 2017 Porsche Macan GTS could well be the next best thing (if it’s not, it’s certainly close to it) for the well-heeled enthusiast that leads an active lifestyle and doesn’t have the space for a second car. The fact that more buyers will pick the GTS out of their local dealer’s Macan selection just because they like the wheels than because of its performance credentials is beside the point.
2017 Porsche Macan GTS Sport Chrono Specifications
|PRICE||$68,250/$89,070 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||3.0L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/360 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 369 lb-ft @ 1,650-4,000 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||17/23 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||184.7 x 76.1 x 63 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.8 sec|
|TOP SPEED||159 mph|