Porsche Macan GTS

Blistering performance comes at bumpy price

JOHN CAREY

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

THE SPORTY SUV is where the immutable laws of Newtonian physics collide head on with a carmaker’s understandable desire to profit from satisfying the misguided desires of an everswelling cohort of customers.

It’s evident that height and heaviness are serious impediments to achieving handling agility and accelerative ability. Still, some companies do make a better job than others of taking clumsy SUV material and turning it into something almost elegantly athletic – which brings us to the Macan GTS.

This latest addition to Porsche’s medium-size SUV line-up, due to reach Australia in April, can be eye-wideningly rapid. One of the exercises on the program at the international launch is chasing a well-driven 911 pace car along a snaky, silky-smooth 4.2km stretch of blacktop on the pretty island of Tenerife.

The experience confirms Porsche’s claim that the GTS is the sportiest Macan. It corners without too much roll or any hint of skittishness and the broad 19-inch tyres deliver ample grip. The steering is also swift and accurate, while the brakes are strong.

The GTS is rapid, even though it doesn’t have the power to match the Turbo with its 294kW twinturbo 3.6-litre V6. Instead, the GTS has a 265kW version of the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 from the S, teamed with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and allwheel- drive hardware used in all Macan models. The GTS engine’s small increase in boost yields a modest 15kW increase.

Porsche concentrated more on boosting the GTS’s curve-carving credentials. Its suspension is 15mm lower and the setting of its standard adaptive damping system is sportier.

While effective on a flawless road surface, the suspension of the Macan GTS isn’t happy elsewhere. The active system has three basic settings, none of them right for roughness. Comfort is busy on small irregularities, but exerts inadequate body control over heaves and humps.

Sport fails to completely quell this floatiness, while increasing jiggliness. Sport Plus sorts the handling, but makes the ride annoyingly brittle. In a five-seat passenger carrier like a Macan, such a range of choices is difficult to forgive.

Speaking of choice, wouldn’t it be smarter to pick something with attributes and abilities similar to the Macan GTS, but without its handicaps of heft and height? The lower, much lighter and sportily entertaining new Volkswagen Golf R Wagon, for example, has the same number of seats, equivalent cargo space, all-wheel drive and similar performance. And, in round figures, saves you $50,000. e mfort s

PLUS & MINUS

Rough-road ride; price-to-size relationship; expensive options Smooth-road grip, handling; thrusty twin-turbo V6; front seats

The gee-whiz in GTS

As with other Porsches wearing the GTS badge, the exterior of the good-looking Macan gains black highlights.

These are glossy above the waistline and lustrous matte below. But the best change is to be found inside. Sports front seats, with Alcantara centre panels, are comfortable and superbly supportive. The GTS also features Porsche’s new-generation infotainment system, with a 7.0-inch touchscreen that can be controlled using smartphonelike gestures.

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