The GTS badge has come to signify Porsches that take driving enjoyment to the next level. They come with a tantalising range of performance parts that boost power and sharpen handling.
The Macan SUV is the latest model to get the GTS treatment. In this case, you get an extra 20bhp and 30Ib ft of low-rev pulling power over the Macan S. That means it’s still less powerful than the Turbo, which keeps its crown as the fastest version of the Macan.
But outright performance has never been the goal of GTS cars. Lower, adjustable suspension comes as standard, along with 20in wheels that allow wider tyres to boost grip. You also get the bigger brakes from the Turbo to make sure you can stop from speed quickly.
You’ll definitely recognise a GTS if you see one. You get a sports design pack for the outside, a matt black finish, GTS badging and four black exhaust pipes. Inside is more GTS badging and lots of Alcantara.
What is the 2016 Porsche Macan GTS like to drive?
The Macan GTS may have been optimised for driving quickly, but it still proves to be comfortable during normal use. The engine starts with a deep and purposeful burble, but on the move it's subdued with the exhaust in its quietest setting.
There’s not much in the way of wind noise and the suspension works away quietly, too. Our only complaint is that the big tyres generate a lot of roar over coarse surfaces – particularly concrete sections of motorways.
A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is the only transmission option, but it's one that suits the Macan perfectly. It shifts smoothly and responds quickly when asked for a sudden burst of acceleration, especially in Sport mode. Decide to change gear yourself, by pulling paddles behind the steering wheel, and the ’box responds quickly to your demands.
Push your right foot towards the carpet and the Macan launches forwards. It may be a little slower than the Turbo but it’s still remarkably fast for a two-tonne SUV, and with the exhaust in its loud setting, it provides a suitably sporty soundtrack to proceedings.
Most of the power is sent to the rear wheels, and you can really feel it as you get on the throttle out of a slow corner. Few cars, let alone SUVs, can put such a big smile on your face. The steering may not offer as much feedback as Porsche's sports cars, but it’s precise, quick and makes placing the front of the GTS very easy. The Alcantara-wrapped rim is a nice touch, too.
Our test car came with an optional air suspension set-up that provides a great range of adjustability. In its most comfortable setting, it almost wafts along, soaking up expansion joints and potholes well. Start to corner faster, though, and you do notice some body lean and slightly loose body control over crests and compressions.
Once you’ve found the suspension button among the myriad switches around the gear lever, a press into Sport mode will firm things up. While you do notice more bumps as they pass beneath the car, the ride doesn't become too jarring. That’s handy, because it reduces lean around corners and makes the GTS feel even more agile.
Press the button again and you enter Sport Plus mode. The suspension becomes firmer still, making the GTS turn crisply into corners and behave like a much lower, lighter car. The downside is a bumpier ride, although the GTS still never crashes or makes you wince.
What is the 2016 Porsche Macan GTS like inside?
As with any other Macan, you’d never buy a GTS if rear seat space is your priority. A sloping roofline makes rear head room tight for taller individuals and leg room is behind that of the class best, too. We’ve no complaints about the size of the boot, though. It’s large and a usefully square shape, while the optional air suspension allows you to lower the tail of the car to make loading heavy items easier.
Up front you get a pair of fantastically supportive sports seats which also prove to eb comfortable over longer distances. Finding a decent driving position is easy, with all major controls exactly where you'd want them. Unfortunately, some of the minor controls are grouped together in a button-heavy area around the gear lever. This makes finding certain functions hard without glancing away from the road.
Like the rest of the Macan range, the GTS receives the latest version of Porsche’s infotainment system. Measuring 7.0in diagonally, it's clear and responsive and also has the benefit of Apple CarPlay, allowing you to fully sync your iPhone. It’s a shame that sat-nav is a pricey optional extra, though.
You also have to pay extra for a few items that you’d hope would come as standard in a car costing more than £55,000. These include heated front seats and parking sensors.
Should I buy one?
If we slip into our sensible trousers, we'd argue the Macan GTS doesn’t quite offer the practicality of some rivals and will be far more expensive to run than a diesel-powered version of most of the competition, including the Audi SQ5 or Alpina XD3.
If, however, you want the finest-handling SUV out there and you can stomach fuel economy of barely more than 20mpg, the Macan GTS is the car for you.
What Car? says...
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NAME OF CAR
Engine size 3.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from £55,188
Torque 369lb ft
Top speed 159mph
Fuel economy (official combined) 32.1mpg
CO2/BIK band 207g/km, 36%