Porsche's GTS badge is now recognised as a bridge between the S models and the Turbos, adding desirable options, a bit more focus and speed, in this case to the already accomplished Macan. It's not cheap, but then it's difficult to fault its incredible capability.
In the Metal:
Once reserved for a handful of variants, the GTS badge from Porsche has come to signify a filler between the already accomplished S models and the lunacy presented by the range-topping Turbos. In bridging that divide the GTS not only brings an increase in performance and agility, but a standard specification that cherry picks the best options from Porsche's extensive options list. The price jumps accordingly, but try specifying an S to the level of a GTS and it starts to look like a reasonable proposition. Visually the GTS trim brings to the new version of the Porsche Macan what it does elsewhere in the line-up. That means, in Porsche's words, 'a lot of black', the trim either high gloss black or matte, as are the 20-inch alloy wheels, while the front lamps get black inserts and the rear lights smoked lenses.
Sports seats inside define the GTS, finished with GTS logos, while there's the option to add further GTS-style changes via an optional GTS interior package that adds black leather trim, decorative stitching, floor mats, seatbelts and more GTS logos. Start ticking those boxes and as quickly as the GTS accelerates to 100km/h you'll be into Macan Turbo price territory.
Nice as all those gloss and matte finish trim pieces are, it's what Porsche has done to the chassis and powertrain that define the GTS. The Macan's an indecently capable compact SUV already, and the GTS builds on that. Power from the 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol engine increases to 360hp (a 20hp bump), while torque grows by 40Nm for a 500Nm maximum, allowing the Macan GTS to reach 100km/h in 5.2 seconds from rest in standard guise or 5.0 seconds if you opt for the Sport Chrono package. The power delivery is never wanting and there is no obvious lag despite the forced induction. The engine's plentiful peak torque arrives at just 1,650rpm and hangs on until 4,000rpm, peak power arriving at 6,000rpm. There's a sports exhaust as standard, which adds some aural thrills to the plentiful accelerative pace, though it's not the Macan GTS's forceful power that's most impressive, but its dynamism. The Macan in regular and S guise isn't short on agility, but the GTS features a revised chassis, which includes a 10mm drop in ride height, plus a GTS-specific wheel and tyre set up. In addition to that are Macan Turbo specification brakes. All of this adds up to a more focused, more engaging Macan.
The steering, while light, has some feel at the small, chunky rim, the Macan GTS's ability to change direction remarkable given its weight and height. It feels eager and responsive at the front axle, in a manner more akin to a sports car or hot hatch. The standard PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) has a more sporting set-up specifically tuned for the GTS too and the result is very impressive, the body control tight, it resistant to roll even when you're pushing hard, yet the ride remains composed on all but the roughest surfaces. There's the ability to further increase the intensity if you option PTV Plus, which means an electronically controlled differential lock. Do that and it allows the Macan to be driven in a manner most un-SUV like, with power oversteer if you've the space, and talent. You'd be doing well, or driving outrageously, to achieve that on the public road, such is the vast amount for grip and traction the four-wheel drive system delivers. The PDK transmission changes its seven gears swiftly, the paddle shifters faithfully responding to input, though they could do with being a little bit bigger. We should also mention that the Macan gets Porsche's improved touch-screen infotainment (recently launched on the revised Porsche 911 Carrera) that adds apps and connectivity, though again you'll be ticking options if you want all of its functionality.
What you get for your Money:
The Macan GTS makes a box-ticked S look silly, though start ticking the extras on the GTS and it's not too difficult to approach and exceed the Macan Turbo entry price point. The GTS arguably offers the best of everything; few need the Turbo's ridiculous performance, and the GTS has some unique styling that works very well - inside and out. It's just a shame that, as ever, to really get the best GTS you still need to go ticking options like Sport Chrono, air suspension and that PTV Plus electronically controlled differential. That's before you start adding interior highlights...
This sharper and faster Porsche Macan impresses, but with the base models already offering as much performance and agility as you could wish for the GTS's position is difficult to justify for all but the most committed drivers. There's an argument on the Irish market for a GTS diesel version, the GTS styling and specification revisions would work just as well with a more economical engine under its bonnet, if not more so - for sales at least.