2015 Porsche Macan GTS review
Driver-focused Macan gets more power, a reworked chassis and some attractive visual and aural extras. We love the Macan, but is this our favourite version?...
It’s fair to say the Porsche Macan doesn't require enhancements to the way it drives. We already think the standard car is stupendously capable for a small SUV, but Porsche still isn’t satisfied that it’s as good as it could be.
As a result - and as it has done with almost all its other models - Porsche has created this GTS version, which brings together some of the Macan’s more favourable dynamic options, but adds some unique tweaks.
The standard Macan S’s twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine has been boosted by 20bhp to 355bhp, and torque is up 30lb ft to 369lb ft. To make the most of that extra shove, Porsche’s PASM adjustable suspension is standard, and the GTS rides stiffer and 15mm lower for flatter cornering.
There are also bigger brakes, while a standard sports exhaust gives the GTS the bark to match its bite.
What’s the 2015 Porsche Macan GTS like to drive?
Few compact SUVs are as fun to drive. Its V6 engine is savagely urgent from as low as 1500rpm and has no issues revving and pulling consistently to its redline. You'll be rewarded for your commitment, because with the GTS's sports exhaust howls its way down the road and cracks fiercely on full-throttle upshifts.
Our car was fitted with optional Sports Chrono (£729), which offers several driving modes; switching out of the GTS's default mode to Sport stiffens the dampers, quickens gearshifts and brings a more aggressive throttle. Sport Chrono adds Sport Plus, and with it even more aggressive characteristics.
Sport is our favourite, because it eliminates the default mode's gearbox hesitancy from a standstill, offers the nicest weight to the Macan's steering and makes the gearshifts pleasingly responsive. It all works together to coax you into pushing the GTS and marvel at its beautifully precise steering and agile front end.
With its low centre of gravity, the GTS keeps its body neat and tidy through tight bends, and few performance SUVs will allow as much progressive rear axle slip with its stability aids switched off. It makes cornering superb fun. Its extra power and torque help you exit corners that bit quicker from low revs, too.
Our foreign test route wasn't the best test of ride quality but bumps were well smoothed over, even with our car's optional (£737) 21in wheels. There's certainly more of an edge to its ride than the standard car's, but its body is impeccably well controlled over large and high-frequency small bumps. Once again, mode offers the best blend of ride comfort and agility.
With its sports exhaust switched off and left in its default driving mode, the GTS makes a refined motorway cruiser; its engine settles and wind noise is kept at bay. They only real issue is road noise over particularly coarse surfaces, although this may be less intrusive on the car's standard 20in wheels.
What's the 2015 Porsche Macan GTS like inside?
The GTS has the same dimensions as the standard Macan, so two adults will find plenty of head and leg room in the front sports seats, which have a wide range of adjustment and provide very good support.
The rear seats are less accommodating because the Macan's swooping roofline encroaches on head room and there isn't much space for adult knees. Its boot is a good size and shape, though, with decent access.
Up front, the GTS's raised central tunnel places the gear lever in just the right position, but it's flanked by so many buttons it can be confusing to find the right one on the move. At least the buttons feel suitably substantial, and the GTS's leather stitched dash and generous use of Alcantara on its steering wheel and doors make it feel worth its high price tag.
All Macans now benefit from Porsche's new PCM infotainment system, also launched in its new 911. The Macan's old system was one of its weaker points, so it's good to see the new 7.0in screen is better integrated into the dash, looks sharper than before and responds more quickly to its new swipe and pinch functions.
It offers far more smartphone integration than before too, including Apple CarPlay and a WiFi hotspot capability, but it's disappointing that (the excellent Google Maps-based) sat-nav is an expensive £1052 option at this level.
Should I buy one?
The Macan has always been good to drive, but the GTS modifications provide an even more thrilling drive without, as far as we can tell at this stage, any compromises to ride quality. It's an expensive option that for some won't make as much sense as going for a cheaper standard petrol Macan S with an optional sports exhaust, but it's worth the extra expense if you place handling at the top of your list of priorities.
Bear in mind, though, that the GTS has the same downsides as lesser Macans; there are still some pieces of equipment we feel should be included for the price it demands, and there are definitely better SUVs if you regularly haul a lot of luggage and lanky rear passengers around.
While performance SUVs are growing in number, the Macan remains unusual, because most of its obvious rivals are diesels - namely Audi's SQ5 and BMW's X4 35d. The Audi and BMW are similarly quick, cleaner and more frugal, and give the Macan a run for its money when it comes to cabin quality. That said, they can't claim to better the GTS's aural drama or sublime ride and handling balance.
What Car? says...
Porsche Macan GTS
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