Credit where credit is due: Porsche does well at making the most of any given model. Take the 911, for instance—one car, six variants. The Cayenne, too, is one model with four variants. The incredible thing about the bandwidth of Porsche’s lineup is that even with a half-dozen variants in a given model, each has its own distinctive feel and more important its own performance realm. In no model is that more true than the 2017 Porsche Macan GTS.
Like all of Porsche’s GTS variants, the Macan GTS is designed to not only split the difference between the Macan S and Macan Turbo but to also provide the purest driving experience of the lineup. In fact, Porsche even told me on the Macan GTS’ launch that although the GTS is a new model this year, it was actually the first variant developed—the rest of the Macan lineup are either dialed up or down to fit. It’s because of its place in the Macan lineup that the Macan GTS’ spec chart reads like a hodgepodge of parts from the Macan S and Macan Turbo. From the Macan S, the 2017 Macan GTS gets its 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 retuned to behave more like a naturally aspirated engine. It makes 360 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, which is up 20 hp and 30 lb-ft compared to the lesser Macan. From the Macan Turbo, the 2017 Macan GTS gets its 14.1-inch six-piston front brakes (the S’ 12.9-inch calipers are standard in back) and Porsche Active Suspension Management, or PASM, which uses electronically controlled dampers.
The Macan GTS shares its PDK seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and rear-biased all-wheel-drive system with other Macans, but that’s not to say the Macan GTS doesn’t get some unique hardware of its own—it also gets a standard air suspension (optional on other Macan models) that rides nearly a 0.5 inch lower than other models in the lineup.
At the track, the Macan GTS carefully straddles the line of performance between the Macan S and Macan Turbo. I suppose I should say Macans because we tested two similarly equipped versions of the Macan GTS—one on the standard Michelin Latitude Tour HP all-season tires and another on a set of Michelin Latitude Sport 3 summer tires, a no-cost option. Although the majority of Macan GTS buyers opt for the all-season tires, we were curious to see if the optional summer tires would improve its performance beyond that of a Macan Turbo.
Turns out that no matter the tire option, the Macan GTS neatly splits the difference between S and Turbo. Using launch control, which is enabled by shelling out an extra $1,290 for the Sport Chrono package, our all-season-equipped Macan GTS accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and went through the quarter mile in 13.4 seconds at 99.1 mph. That’s just ahead of it is the summer-tired GTS, which hits 60 mph from a standstill in 4.4 seconds and finishes the quarter mile in 13.2 seconds at 102.4 mph. For comparison’s sake, the last Macan S we tested hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and did the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds at 102.1 mph, and the last Macan Turbo we tested did 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 106.2 mph.
That trend continues in our other instrumented tests. In 60–0-mph braking, for instance, the summer-tired Macan GTS stops in 104 feet, the all-season-tired GTS in 112 feet (side note: if that doesn’t illustrate the major advantage of summer tires over all-seasons, I don’t know what will), the Macan S in 119 feet, and the Macan Turbo with its bigger rear brakes in 102 feet. Just about the only performance category where the Macan GTS has an advantage over its more powerful Macan Turbo brother is on the figure eight. With both our testers equipped with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, a brake-based torque vectoring system, our summer-tire-equipped example lapped the figure eight in 24.9 seconds at 0.76 g average compared to the Turbo’s 25.0-second at 0.78 g performance. That 0.5-inch lower suspension would really seem to make a difference. The Macan GTS on all-seasons matched the Turbo’s 25.0-second time around the figure eight at 0.75 g.
Out on the road, the 2017 Macan GTS drives like a Porsche should—quick and capable. Through twisting and turning back roads and in its Sport or Sport Plus settings, the Macan’s PDK helps mitigate lag by keeping the twin-turbo V-6 revving above 2,000 rpm and by shifting quickly on the straights. The Macan’s steering feedback is generally good, though there’s little in the way of actual feel of the road—likely due to its origins in a more mild-mannered Audi Q5. The PTV+ system is expensive at $1,490, but it makes itself known around tight switchbacks as it brakes the inside rear tire and helps the Porsche get its butt planted and nose turned around to face the next set of corners. In more pedestrian drive situations such as commuting, the Macan GTS quiets down nicely. Throttle and braking response is good in stop-and-go traffic, as is the ride quality—I’d only wish for more comfortable seats because the stock sport seats get uncomfortable after about an hour behind the wheel.