Last weekend we were given the opportunity to experience the new Macan GTS ahead of its official launch here in the US. Over the course of two days in the Colorado Rockies, we had the chance to flog the Macan in high altitude conditions. In the process, we learned quite a lot about how it performs, and why this just might be the best sporty CUV out there. We also have a good handle on what options you should order, and those you can live without. Here is run down on everything we now know.
1. Why A Macan GTS Is A Better Buy Than A Highly Optioned Macan S?
Aside from the additional 20 horsepower and 30 lb-ft of torque, the Macan GTS offers unique styling pieces and options that just aren't available on the S (most crucially, Turbo front brakes and special GTS spec PASM tuning). To be quite honest, it's been long enough since we drove the Macan S that a one-to-one comparison probably isn't fair. However, it's safe to say that with a suspension lower by 10mm, and special chassis bits, the GTS handles better than your average S. Not to mention that the GTS comes standard with 20" RS Spyder design wheels fitted with 265s up front and 295s in the rear. That's a whole lot of tire under you in the GTS, helping the Porsche grip as well as your average sports car. Perhaps, most importantly, if you were to option a Macan S up to the same level as a base Macan GTS, you would end up spending a few extra thousand dollars more, and still wouldn't have the GTS-specific pieces.
2. Which Options Should You Choose?
Honestly, this is a great driving car from the outset, and doesn't need additional options to provide an excellent GTS driving experience. Personally, my only options would be aesthetic choices. I'd go with Night Blue Metallic exterior paint (a $690 option) and the Leather/Alcantara rich GTS Interior Package with Rhodium Silver seatbelts, stitching, and tachometer face (a dear option package at $4,790). Yes, it's an expensive option, but the interior is where you spend all of your time, and it is worth spending a little extra to get a good interior. The GTS Interior Package is also available in Carmine Red, but I feel that the Rhodium Silver package looks better with the standard brushed aluminum dash trim.
3. How Does A Macan GTS Make Its Extra Power?
20 horsepower and 30 lb-ft of torque don't sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things. That said, it could make all the difference. The Macan GTS is now capable of a really exciting sub-5 second 0-60 time, and it all comes down to a handful of changes in the engine compartment. The most obvious change is an increase in boost pressure. The GTS uses the same 3.0 liter V6 that is found in the Macan S, but with a revised valvetrain, new pistons, and larger turbochargers. By changing multiple components, Porsche was given an opportunity to flatten out the engine's power delivery, and give the car a whole new level of driveability. Unfortunately, we weren't given an opportunity to enjoy all of this extra horsepower, as we were driving around at high altitude, which absolutely kills power output.
4. How Does The Sport Exhaust Sound?
Honestly really good. With the exhaust flaps open, the Macan sounds much throatier and ready to dance. We don't have any decibel readings, but we were told that the Macan GTS produces more sound in its "normal" mode than the Macan S makes in its "Sport" mode. It was louder without being too loud or obnoxious. We spent a few dozen miles cruising at highway speeds, and we never had any problem with drone, and the cockpit was quiet enough for relaxed conversation.
5. How Quickly Can We Drive One Up Pikes Peak?
The best part of the trip, the centerpiece of the two day event, was the drive up Pikes Peak. Porsche had the entire road closed down for us early in the morning, and they invited none other than hillclimb specialist Jeff Zwart along to show us how to go up the road quickly. Zwart was outfitted with his 2002 PPIHC winning Showroom Stock 996 GT2, and led the way up the mountain. Jeff was driving at a leisurely pace, but we were absolutely hustling up the hill in our Macans. We could feel the boost pressure decreasing with every mile, but we kept going, and were rewarded with a 14-minute and 4-second run. Yes, the course is fully paved now, and we came nowhere close to the 8-minute record held by Sebastien Loeb, but you have to remember that we were running CUVs on all-season tires that day. I later asked Jeff Zwart what he thought the Macan was capable of on the right tires, and he said he thought he could get a 12-minute 30-second run.
6. How Does It Handle The Back Country Roads Of Colorado?
This vehicle is more than capable of tackling anything you can possibly throw at it. We took our Macan from Pikes Peak all the way to the top of Mount Evans (the highest paved road in North America), and then down into Denver. The Macan never once felt like it was incapable of proceeding, and drove every mile like a dream. We found some nasty cracked pavement roads as well as some full-on dirt roads out there in the hills, and every time the Macan GTS felt like it was at home. In all instances, the chassis tuning gave you a feeling of sporty yet controlled oversteer situations, or in the case of our hotlaps up Pikes Peak, four wheel drifts even.
7. How Does It Work As A CUV?
With 17.7 cubic feet of rear cargo area, the Macan of any flavor can surely tote around most anything you'd need to. With a high and relatively upright driving position, the Macan GTS gives you a commanding position with a great view of the road ahead. This isn't really new information, though. We loved that it could swallow all of our gear, and still drive as mind-bendingly fast as it did.
8. Does It Work As A Replacement For A Sports Car?
Only if you really must. If you're a Porsche fanatic, but you only have garage space or desire for a single car, this might be the right car to contemplate. We honestly loved the driving experience of the Macan GTS, and felt that this was the car 90% of the world would be more than happy to own. It has a go-anywhere, do-anything attitude that just made me smile for hours. CUVs have progressed to the level that sport sedans were at 10-years ago, and where sports cars were 20-years ago. If you can only have one Porsche, and it has to fulfill the duties of a daily driven machine, then you should probably give the MQB-based Macan GTS a thought.
9. Are The Subtle Differences The GTS Offers Worth The Extra Price?
The GTS model is priced about $13,000 more than an S, but if you're looking for a luxurious, sporty, speedy CUV with room for four adults and all of their luggage for a weekend, the Macan GTS is a good place to start. The S is nice, but for that $13,000 premium, you get special suspension, larger brakes, more power, larger wheels, and many other intriguing options.
10. Is It A "Real Porsche"?
In a word, yes. If you need more convincing, scroll up to the top and re-read this page.
Pikes Peak International Hillclimb is coming up in just a few short weeks. We have a newfound respect for the event, but at the same time, we wish Porsche would put a roll cage in one of these and give us the opportunity to run it up the hill to try to beat that 14-minute bogey. I'm reasonably sure I could do it.