Is the 2020 Porsche Macan GTS Enthusiast Worthy?
Want a sports car but need four doors and a hatch? The Macan GTS has you covered.
ESTORIL, PORTUGAL-Let's be frank: in a perfect world, we'd all drive sports cars. Imagine getting everywhere you need to go behind the wheel of a car that excites, engages, and even economizes, with just enough room for you, a friend, and a weekend's worth of luggage. You'd always be searching for that perfect road, clipping the apex of every freeway on-ramp and finding yourself driving somewhere just because there's little else you'd rather be doing at any given time.
But that's not the way life works for most of us. There's shopping to be done, kids to shuttle, dogs to wrangle, traffic-jammed commutes to undertake and the thousand other little daily exercises that make owning a two-door, two-seat sports car not much more practical than keeping a horse in your garage. Porsche knows that, of course, and while it would love nothing more than to sell you the stripped-down, track-ready toy of your dreams, it also thoughtfully offers a consolation prize for those who need more practicality from their daily driver without the soul-crushing that usually goes hand-in-hand with the crossover segment.
Enter the 2020 Porsche Macan GTS, the latest version of the brand's compact tallboy that promises to be the enthusiast's pick of the Macan litter. The GTS badge has graced the Macan previously and the equipment it brings is focused on driving fun, slotting between the Macan S and Macan Turbo in the model range. This second go-around for the Macan GTS brings a pile of updates that start with the revised styling all Macans got for the 2020 model year and adds sinister looking touches including blacked-out badges, front grille, side-blades, exhaust tips, rear diffuser, and roof spoiler, along with a dark-tinted rear lightbar and front headlights. Proper-looking 20-inch RS Spyder Design wheels sit in front of red-painted brake calipers and wear Michelin Latitude Sport tires that are 265-width front, 295-width rear, as found on the Macan Turbo. Our fantastic looking Mamba Green Metallic tester wore optional 21-inch Sport Classic wheels in matching body color and was optioned with Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB), which include white-painted brake calipers indicative of Porsche's confidence in their low brake dust levels.
Inside the cabin, you'll find more GTS-specific touches, including blacked-out aluminum trim, eight-way adjustable sport seats with "GTS" stitched on the headrests and Alcantara inserts and Porsche's multifunction sport steering wheel, complete with drive mode dial. Porsche's PCM infotainment system is included as standard in the GTS trim along with a 10.9-inch center display.
Of course, what really makes the GTS unique is its state of tune, and here Porsche doesn't disappoint. The 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine is up 15 horsepower and 14 lb-ft of torque from the previous version, for 375 hp and 383 lb-ft total, which reduces the 0 to 60 mph sprint by 0.3 sec, according to Porsche. In a properly Germanic way, the brand insists the new Macan GTS reaches 60 mph from a standstill in 4.5 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package which adds Launch Control, but given that the previous version actually did the task in 4.4 seconds we'll guess the new car is capable of closer to 4.3 seconds—which really doesn't matter in the least.
What does matter is the way the Macan drives and makes its driver feel: pretty darn good. We're perpetually leery of the "sports crossover," a proposal which is compromised at best, misguided at worst, and most often worthy of only faint praise. After all, the increased ride height of a crossover versus a sedan-based wagon—and the resulting rise in center of gravity—is something that flies in the face of conventional go-fast wisdom. Simply stated: within reason, lower is better. But from behind the wheel of the 2020 Porsche Macan GTS, it's easy to forget for several moments at a time that you're piloting a more than five-foot tall vehicle.
Part of that is thanks to the excellent standard air suspension (optional in Europe) that allows the ride height to be dropped by nearly half an inch (combined with the standard PASM dampers, the GTS is nearly a full inch lower than other Macan models) and does an excellent job of keeping the Macan GTS' somewhat weighty body well controlled. Transitioning through the S-turns of a Portuguese coastal road with the Macan GTS in Sport mode, the ride is taut and there's surprisingly little roll felt from behind the wheel. Turn-in is sharp and Porsche's electric steering well weighted, though the Macan's tall suspension can't help but somewhat isolate hands from road with diminished feel.
There's little to complain about when it comes to the drivetrain. The twin-turbocharged V-6 is torquey and smooth, with nearly immediate power delivery and full torque from just 1,750 rpm. That makes getting around town a delight, with lots of low-down grunt leaving stop lights. On the open road, passing slower traffic is mostly effortless. The sport exhaust system kept us entertained with plenty of burbles on deceleration and a properly Porsche-sounding growl with the throttle pinned.
As always, the PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox is a delight to use, with rapid-fire shifts in sport mode, both up and down the seven forward ratios, without sacrificing the ability to smoothly swap cogs around town in Comfort mode. Porsche's big red brakes (14.1 inch rotors front, 12.9 inches in the rear) are more than up to the task for road use and we'd probably forgo the optional PCCB carbon ceramic items as they tend only show their strengths on the track, where, let's face it, practically no Macan GTS will ever venture.
But would the sporty Macan GTS really stand up to daily use? Sure, as long as you don't expect too much from it. Those rear seats will hold actual full-grown adults for around-town jaunts to the movies or dinner, but they probably won't be comfortable for anyone but children for a multi-hour road trip unless they share genes with Gumby. And while cargo space is more than adequate for daily use, the compact Macan isn't going to be hauling larger pieces of flat-pack home from Ikea and will likely struggle to comfortably fit a family of four's luggage and souvenirs over a week-long road trip. After all, Porsche will sell you a larger Cayenne for that, and you can even use it to tow a boat or camping trailer.
But for the enthusiast who needs the practicality only afforded by a four-door vehicle, who wants something compact that's engaging and fun to drive, and would own that 718 or 911 as a weekend car if only finances and an extra apartment parking space permitted, a Macan GTS could well be a Goldilocks solution. And let's face it, any car that puts the joy of driving first-be it coupe or crossover-should be commended.
|2020 Porsche Macan GTS|
|ENGINE||2.9L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/375 hp @ 5,200-6,700 rpm, 383 lb-ft @ 1,750-5,000 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD crossover|
|L x W x H||184.5 x 76.2 x 63.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.5-4.7 sec|
|TOP SPEED||162 mph|