Henry Catchpole gets behind the wheel of the 2020 Porsche Macan GTS in Portugal.

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I’ve always thought of the Porsche Macan as a small SUV. Relatively speaking, it is, because the Cayenne is the big one in Porsche’s SUV lineup. And compared with a Lincoln Navigator or a Range Rover or a BMW X7 or countless others, it is rather diminutive. But then I looked at the spec sheet for this new GTS and was surprised to find that it isn’t actually that much smaller or lighter than its peppery sibling. It weighs the better part of 4,400 pounds, which is only about 200 pounds shy of a Cayenne with the same engine.

With regards to the GTS and its 2.9-liter, turbocharged V6, the output is surprisingly tame given the hefty curb weight. Power is quoted as 375 horsepower between 5,200 and 6,700 rpm, while torque is 383 pound-feet from 1,750 rpm. Not bad numbers, mind you, but an Audi RS4 and even the best hot hatches (which weigh about 25% less than a Macan) have a power figure beginning with a 4. In fact, it places the GTS in a slight no man’s land below the real performance heavyweights like Mercedes’ AMG 63 models and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, but above the second-tier AMG 43 or Audi S models. I realize the Turbo exists at the top of the Macan tree, but the jump to that has now widened when compared with the last generation. Previously there was a 40-hp gap between Turbo and GTS, now it’s 60 hp. Surely a GTS badge deserves more?

So, on paper, the Macan GTS doesn’t have a very impressive power-to-weight ratio for a performance SUV with a Porsche badge. But things get a little confusing when you look at the 0-to-60-mph time. With Sport Chrono fitted the GTS will hit the historic mark in just 4.5 seconds, which is hardly slow. And things get even more confusing when you drive the GTS down a good piece of road like the one I found in Portugal. From behind the wheel, the GTS not only feels small in terms of its size, it also feels really lively, quick and responsive in the way it accelerates.

The new V6 has moved the turbos inside the V, which shortens the path the exhaust gasses have to travel. The theory is that this should make for a more responsive engine and that’s certainly how it feels. Combined with the snappy, seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox, the GTS really rips through its revs. It feels happiest living in the upper half of the rev range rather than leaning on low-end torque, but if you keep it on boil, then it leaps between corners like a puppy late for lunch.

What’s more, the chassis is a perfect match for the engine. I drove a base, 2.0-liter Macan recently, and although it initially felt like it should turn in with real poise, it never quite lived up to the promise. The GTS fulfills that potential. The steering gives you a decent idea of how the front tires are loading and the whole car pivots like a lofty hot hatch. Get on the throttle early and it even feels pleasingly rear-biased as it drives through and out of corners.

The car I tested had the optional 21-inch wheels but the standard steel-spring sport suspension (which rides 15 millimeters lower than that of the base Macan). There is an air suspension option, but I don’t think it’s necessary from a comfort point of view. I drove on some cobbled streets that had been made even rougher by roadworks and it was as plush as I think you’d ever need. On the more interesting sections of tarmac you do need to set the dampers to their firmest setting, Sport Plus, rather than just Sport, as otherwise bigger undulations can leave you with a bit too much wallow.

Rather pleasingly, you can jump between these and other settings via the myriad buttons on the transmission tunnel. Such a plethora of things to push looks a little old-fashioned given the modern trend for one big touchscreen (there’s one of those in the Macan, too), but I think it makes life much easier. The large gear selector looks slightly old-fashioned too, but again works well and is useful for resting your arm on while operating the aforementioned touchscreen. The other standout feature of the interior are the sports seats. Although they look like quite conventional chairs with separate headrests, the bolstering is plentiful and placed perfectly.

The only big disappointment is the sound of the GTS’ V6. The previous generation’s 3.0-liter V6 had a wonderful voice, but the new one has been muffled, almost certainly by the addition of particulate filters. It’s not an unpleasant soundtrack but it is a noticeably thinner noise that lacks depth and complexity. It’s a real shame, as it does slightly dampen the whole character of the car.

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27 Comments

  • Henry Catchpole
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Thank you, as ever, for watching. Just in case you're wondering about a review of the 718 GTSs (mentioned at the start of the film), that will be along in a week or so when the embargo lifts. For now, feast your eyes on those Mamba green wheels…

  • Phil Taylor
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    The current darling of the motoring journalist anti-SUV brigade is the Audi RS6 which actually has an unladen weight greater than the Macan. However, said scribblers are obsessed with the weight of SUV’s but not estate cars which not so many years ago were rather sniffly referred to as the wheels of choice for Antique Dealers and Travelling Salesmen. New GTS looks good but I’ll stick with my S Diesel and ride the torque.

  • Matthew Hobson
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    I would maybe get this in satin white

  • Nishant Gogna
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Hands down the best SUV I've ever driven.

  • Rob Huang
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    I understand that in Australia, our Macan GTS will not have the particle filter. Hopefully that will help with sound.

  • John Yacoub
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    i think another reason for the big difference in sound between this one and the 'old' one (which really does make a pretty wonderful sound) is that the old Porsche-developed 3.0 V6 T was a heavily oversquare design, in typical Porsche sports car fashion; probably also explained the powerband. this one, in contrast, is slightly undersquare, in pretty typical VW/Audi fashion. the upside of that is that all the reviews I've seen or read so far make it seem like this one really rips from down low – eager to drive it and see. in the Macan turbo, acceleration testing results are way ahead of Porsche's official numbers. And maybe it will sounds better if the US models come without the GPFs, anyway.

  • Pedro
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Amazingly overpriced

  • OMGWTFLOL
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    The seats hold your abdomen perfectly? How is that exactly? Are you humping the seats? I don't get it.

  • Christopher Brett
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    I’m seriously looking to acquire one in 2020

  • fauzi hassan
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Yes….I prefer lots of buttons too….

  • Anoni.mouse same
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Lost to Audi again

  • TALON LEEVON
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Glad to see color…everyone else is so sheepishly boring white, black silver or tan. That goes for what people wear too…black ain't where it's at…that goes for singers, porn stars, skin and day dwellers…

  • Chris A
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    suv's 👎🏻

  • pokiou
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    it's a family car.. doesnt need to snort and fart and pop.

  • irishcoliny
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Hate the look of a bunch of buttons.

  • Ian Townsend
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    If a get the chance to get a Macan it will definitely be in Mama green just not the alloys

  • honmonster m
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    You have got to stop doing all this Porsche GTS. I love them all. Good reviews.

  • Matthew Gaither
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Porsche has traditionally done more with less in terms of being able to set a fast time on a track or road course. 375hp does seem low for a vehicle of this size and weight (and in the current market) but, just like Porsche cars of the past, keeping the revs up and really using the suspension and handling capabilities to their fullest will really hustle this Macan down the road. It's a recipe that Porsche has been working on for a very long time and they are very nearly perfect at it.

  • MaelstroM
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    #maketophatsgreatagain

  • Albo Pastrami
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Pop the 4 Litre 420hp N/A in it…

  • Alexander Jiang
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Sweet! Now I can get to the grocery store faster than all those Civics out there.

  • 23Piccolina
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Always an enjoyable video. Not a fan of this VW Tiguan SUV however. I'd take the Stelvio.

  • badoubade
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Sport plus for track?
    Come on, do people actually track them?
    Tracking an SUV is like being in front of Buckingham palace and take out your iPad to take a photo 😀

  • St Al
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Cycling Podcast 👀🚲. Car looks horrible, is far too heavy, just don’t get it. The kind of car you find parked on the pavement.

  • Adam Frank
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Hi there! The Macan GTS does indeed have standard air suspension…it comes along with PASM. The Turbo model is the one lacking the air suspension (steel spring suspension) but does come with PASM.

  • Valentin Adrian
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Stelvio Q. is nr.1

  • Andrew Bird
    Posted June 3, 2020 6:28 pm

    Great review. Porsche have done a cracking job with the Macan, it does drive surprisingly almost stunningly well for a big car. As a Cayman S owner for 14 years now if I could justify the extra £££ (substantial 😕) I'd swap it and the daily driver Merc for one

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