2017 Porsche Macan GTS Tested: Porsche’s Hot Hatch

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Source: Car and Driver
Full Article: 2017 Porsche Macan GTS Tested: Porsche’s Hot Hatch

Porsche’s marketing department likes to say that the Macan is a compact crossover, but that’s not how we see it—especially not in its new GTS trim. Compared with others in its segment, the Macan GTS has a low-slung body free of gaudy plastic cladding, a ferocious appetite for high-performance driving, compromised rear-seat and cargo space, and relatively limited off-road capability. So why not call a spade a spade and label the Macan as Porsche’s hot hatch?

GTS Marks the Spot

To the casual observer, the 360-hp GTS doesn’t appear to be the hottest Macan variant—after all, the 400-horse Macan Turbo will beat it in a straight line. But as we’ve seen on similar versions of the 911 and Boxster/Cayman, Porsche’s subtle GTS treatment is more focused on overall driving pleasure than on outright speed. Standard Macan GTS fare includes electronically adaptive dampers, a stiffer rear anti-roll bar, larger front brakes borrowed from the Macan Turbo, and an air-spring suspension that’s slightly lower and stiffer than that of the 340-hp Macan S. Our test car also came equipped with Porsche’s $1490 torque-vectoring system that can lock the rear differential and apply braking to the inside rear wheel to assist rotation during cornering.

The Macan GTS proves itself a phenomenal companion on twisting back roads. Composed, planted, and unflappable, it does exactly what it’s told, the steering wheel, throttle, and brake pedal each responding to inputs with a satisfying linearity. With the Macan’s suspension hunkered down in its lowest setting, it’s easy to forget that you’re piloting a 4500-pound piece. Body roll is minimal, and it’s difficult to catch the chassis out of sorts, even at high speed over quick elevation changes and through tight corners.

The Macan’s grip threshold is high, and its 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, with 369 lb-ft of torque available from 1650 rpm, powers the car out of corners with impressive immediacy. And yet, for all of its sports-car-like moves, the Macan can be a remarkably serene cruiser if you stay out of its Sport or Sport Plus driving modes. Ride quality is composed and impact harshness is well controlled, with some credit due to the relatively tall tire sidewalls wrapped around 20-inch wheels. (The Macan offers optional 21-inchers, and 22-inch wheels are not unheard of in this class.)

Sharp Shifter

The duality of the Porsche’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, or PDK, impresses as well. In sedate driving, it does a darn good impression of a conventional automatic transmission, with little low-speed fussiness and smooth, nearly imperceptible shifts under light throttle. And yet, when in Sport Plus mode, the PDK’s behavior changes wholesale. Approach a corner at speed, brake hard, and the Macan snaps off rapid, aggressive rev-matched downshifts; exit said corner with your foot to the floor, and the PDK holds gears until redline and then executes lightning-quick upshifts.

At the test track, the Macan GTS ripped off numbers that put it in an entirely different class from other small crossovers including the BMW X3 and the Jaguar F-Pace. The GTS’s zero-to-60-mph time of 4.4 seconds is nearly a second quicker than the Bimmer and the Jag’s, and only 0.2 seconds slower than the Macan Turbo’s, despite a 40-horsepower deficit. Its braking distance of 157 feet from 70 mph falls close to sports-car territory. Only the Macan’s 0.88 g of grip around the skidpad is even in the same realm as the competition. Most of the Macan GTS’s numbers would have been competitive in our latest test of über-hatches that included the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R—even though those hatchbacks weigh around 1000 pounds less than the Porsche.

Porsche-Style Pricing

The hot hatch comparison seems less valid when you look at our test vehicle’s price of $77,255, which is steep even when examined against other luxury SUVs. The as-tested price is all the more surprising when you consider the GTS’s remarkably light load of options (for a Porsche), as our test model’s extras totaled less than $10,000 on top of the Macan GTS’s $68,250 starting price. You only get what you pay for here, considering that despite a near-$80,000 sticker, this Macan did not have navigation (another $1730) or any active safety features (blind-spot monitoring is $690 extra, lane-keeping assist is $690, and adaptive cruise control is $1440 more).

Despite its rather short list of features, the Macan GTS’s interior still satisfies. Microsuede trim abounds, contrasting nicely with black leather and attractive brushed-metal trim. The seating position is spot-on, the central touchscreen is responsive, and if the crowded arrangement of climate-control and drive-mode buttons on the center console seems overwhelming at first, it’s at least logically laid out and easy enough to learn. The rear seat is less impressive: legroom and headroom are tight, and it induces claustrophobia with smallish windows and dark upholstery. The Macan’s cargo area, with only 18 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, is more in line with that of SUV-coupe variants such as the BMW X4 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe rather than those models’ more upright counterparts, the X3 and GLC.

But practicality is not why people choose a Porsche, even a Porsche with four doors and a hatchback. The Macan already was the driver’s choice in its segment, and the GTS package elevates its dynamic charms. With performance abilities resembling those of Porsche’s own sports cars more than other crossovers, the Macan is difficult to classify—in a good way. So we say it’s a hot hatch, and one that only Porsche could create.

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