The Goldilocks Porsche: 2020 Macan GTS

Shane grew up working in his dad's garage before studying engineering to PhD level, and then realised he preferred writing about and driving cars. Managed to make a living out of it, too. Just as well with three kids to feed...

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Porsche obsessives may not like me for suggesting this. I reckon most Porsche SUV buyers aren’t actually bought by previous Porsche sports car owners that have now procreated and need more space for the resulting sprogs. A glance at the buoyant sales figures for the Macan and Cayenne suggests that either there are A LOT of previous Porsche sports car owners having kids or, you know, people just like SUVs.

Regardless, the world has spoken, and the world wants Porsche SUVs. By the bucketload as it happens, especially if we’re talking about the Macan. Porsche’s best-seller came in for a round of revisions late last year to keep it fresh, but it’s only now gotten around to launching what we’ve always considered to be the ‘Goldilocks’ model: the ‘just right’ Macan GTS version, rather than a blonde delinquent that breaks into random houses and steals porridge.

Dark and broody

The Macan GTS gets a suitably felonious appearance to differentiate it from the other models in the range. Dark and broody is the standard GTS theme, which sounds more Goth than fairy tale, but it works for the recently updated Macan bodywork. It gets the equivalent of black lipstick around the front, sides and back, marking out the GTS-specific bumpers, side sills and badging. The rear diffuser and exhaust outlets are also dark-coloured, as are the surrounds of the headlights and the cool LED light bar across the back. The standard wheels are serious looking 20-inch items called ‘RS Spyder Design’, finished in (you guessed it) black and, if you can resist spending thousands on one of the two brake upgrade options (a road-going SUV such as the Macan really doesn’t need carbon ceramic stoppers), the callipers are painted red by default.

A Macan interior for the touchy-feely types

Alcantara: don’t you just love it? It’s the brand of synthetic suede (no cows were hurt in the making of this material) used by Porsche and others and it partly covers the Macan GTS-specific sports seats as standard (other upholstery options are offered). Spend a modest amount more and Alcantara will also trim the wonderfully, perfectly round steering wheel and, weirdly, the grab handles. Then you need to spend an obscene amount on upgrading it all to include a contrasting stitch colour and red-faced instruments. Speaking of red-faced, parents that are struggling to get their chunky child seats into the back of their 911s will be glad to see Isofix mounting points on the back seats of the Macan as standard, plus plenty of space to avoid getting kicked in the back every two minutes by your bundles of joy. The Macan’s boot remains as useful as ever, swallowing 488 litres of stuff before you even think of looking for the lever to tilt the rear seat backs down.

The sportiest Macan ever?

Right, that’s the end of the sensible and useful consumer advice, as now we’re going to talk about turbos and giggle about grip. Porsche claims that the Macan GTS is the sportiest model in the line-up, despite the fact that it sits below the mighty Macan Turbo in terms of pricing and performance. Eh?

We concede that nobody really needs the straight-line grunt that the Turbo has, thanks to its 440hp 2.9-litre biturbo V6, so using the same base engine and detuning it a tad to a still-handy 380hp is just fine if it saves buyers a wad of cash in the process. But how does that make it sportier? The 0-62mph time increases from the Turbo’s faintly ridiculous 4.5 seconds to a still silly 4.7 seconds, incidentally.

It’s all down to the chassis according to Porsche, though the changes are relatively slight. The press material makes vague mention of tweaks to the springs, dampers (it rides on PASM, which sounds vaguely sexual, but is just Porsche-speak for adaptive damping), anti-roll bars and steering, but the most tangible difference is a drop in ride height by 15 millimetres. That gives the Macan GTS more stance, its black rims convincingly filling the arches, but it also means a lower centre of gravity. That's important for getting around corners in, a, well, sporty manner. It helps reduce body roll, aids stability and eases quick direction changes, allowing the generously proportioned – and expensive – tyres work better than ever to keep your Macan shiny side up.

Not that any Macan lacks for cornering ability, but the GTS is designed to be the most impressive of the lot. While we’d love to claim that our rear ends are so attuned to such changes that we can tell you that the Macan GTS corners in a 17.5 per cent more sporting manner than the Macan Turbo, that would be fake news. Perhaps driven back-to-back in standard format you may notice the differences. To muddy the waters further, the test cars all came with the optional air suspension.

So, we can say that the GTS corners with more agility and more driver engagement than almost any SUV, which we could also say about most Macans. The steering has actual information from the front tyres, the V6 bellows and burps and rumbles in all the good ways, the PDK auto is preternaturally good at managing gear selection and the brakes are up to the task of reining in your most foolish of exuberances. In short, it’s brilliant to drive, fun and faster and more capable than anyone needs.

Whisper it, but could the Macan GTS be for people that just like quick and capable SUVs with the Porsche badge on its bonnet rather than sports car owners that need an SUV? No kids required here.

Too pricey?

You can get a 2016 Macan GTS for much less than a new one...

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