Gripe as we may about the death of sedans, hatchbacks, and wagons, crossovers have undeniably become more enjoyable to drive as manufacturers have scrambled to meet the market’s demands for SUVs that still drive with the agility of cars. For the buyer who wants all of that and a little more, Zuffenhausen offers the potent and agile 2021 Porsche Macan GTS.
This high-performance compact crossover comes equipped with a 375-hp turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 engine that sends 383 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Porsche offered us a Miami Blue example, the rare paint job worth the eye-watering $3,120 premium. The color may be expensive, but it earned us plenty of compliments during our week in the driver’s seat. Its good looks were further accented with 20-inch wheels painted black. Overall, it seemed universally appealing to onlookers.
Not only does seat-of-the-pants acceleration feel strong and thrilling, the Macan GTS can put down the numbers to back that up. Porsche claims a 4.5-second 0-60-mph sprint for the Macan GTS, but our test team managed to slash that down to a mere 3.9 seconds. Associate road test editor Erick Ayapana remarked that its “launch control is consistent” and that the CUV “rockets hard off the line with aggressive and snappy gearshifts.”
Similarly, Ayapana applauded its braking capabilities, enhanced by the inclusion of beefy PSCB brakes, a low-dust, non-rusting steel-rotor option for $3,490. The Macan GTS came to a halt from 60 mph in just 108 feet and did so with great pedal feel that inspired confidence in our test drivers. It was a similar story out in the real world. Despite offering tremendous stopping power, the Porsche’s brakes were easy to modulate whether I was driving in the canyons or in traffic.
Road test editor Chris Walton echoed Ayapana’s thoughts when he took the Macan GTS through its paces on the figure eight, a MotorTrend test that evaluates braking, cornering, acceleration, and the transitions in between. Its best lap clocked in at 24.8 seconds averaging 0.77 g, the same lap time as a 2018 Macan S we previously tested. That lower-spec model had just 348 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, but it weighed 141 pounds less.
Impressive Driving Impressions
In the driver’s seat we appreciated the repeatability and strength of the brakes and the superbly faked hydraulic feel from the electric assisted rack. The seat bolsters kept us locked into the seat. That’s a good thing because the lateral acceleration exceeds what one would expect from an SUV. Walton noted, “as I added laps, I noticedI was losing grip” which correlated with a change in tire pressure such that the lefts were 3 psi higher than the rights. On the road returning from the track, I noted the same phenomenon, which could explain the more powerful model’s equivalent lap times with the Macan S.
In any case, the Macan GTS has plenty of aural drama. Its quad-tip exhaust growls and howls from startup to the top of the redline. Marry that audio with the walls of a canyon, and it gets pretty hard to believe it’s coming from a crossover. Ayapana asked in his notes, “Have they always sounded this good?” If the Macan didn’t sound this good before, we’re glad it does now.
The Macan GTS owes some credit for its fabulous handling capabilities to the inclusion of Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, a $1,500 option. The $1,360 Sport Chrono package, another Porsche mainstay, adds an attractive analog and digital stopwatch, a mode selection switch on the heated multifunction steering wheel ($590), and Porsche’s Sport Response button on top of that. It also enables launch control and a better version of Porsche Stability Management.
All of this Porsche speak can get a bit confusing, but in the real world the Macan GTS is shockingly intuitive to wheel with precision. Every control, whether it’s the steering, brake pedal, or throttle pedal, feels like it requires the same amount of effort, which instills a lot of confidence in the driver; one feels in control of everything the Macan’s doing all the time. It’s easy to forget this is a crossover at all—in fact, it doesn’t even have rollover stickers due to its low 63-inch height.
Thanks to the massive sunroof, the Macan GTS made a glorious Sunday afternoon in Malibu even better, letting plenty of light into the cabin while I explored some back roads. Nimble, responsive, and engaging, this crossover changes personalities when configured in its sportiest settings. In normal mode it’s a friendly runabout, in Sport+ it’s a mega hot hatch.
That’s a lot of sports car talk, but the Macan GTS has luxury car credentials, too, given the correct options. Our test car came equipped with the expensive but feature-rich Premium Package Plus for $6,610. That’s a hefty bit over the Macan’s starting price, but it bundles in a premium Bose surround sound system, keyless entry and ignition, Apple CarPlay, auto-dimming mirrors, heated seats all around and ventilated front seats, and a panoramic roof system. As an added boon, we also enjoyed the 18-way support seats complete with memory settings ($1,340, or $380 with Premium Plus). Everything is put together very nicely, and even without the added extras, this cabin would be a nice place to endure a commute or attack a back road.
Other cool features include the on-demand lowering ride height, which was super nice when picking up some furniture. The rear seats flip down flat, and the Macan GTS can actually carry a bunch of cargo this way. There’s also a handy storage net in the trunk for loose objects.
Porsche’s smartphone compartment, which has wireless charging and a neat clip to hold a cellphone in place, costs $690. Since the Macan GTS has wireless Apple CarPlay, phone integration is totally cord free, which helps the SUV feel very modern from a user experience standpoint. Porsche’s widescreen touch display is very fast and intuitive, as well. Popping back and forth between having CarPlay and Porsche’s own media interface is quick and easy thanks to a column of buttons on the left side of the screen—the most important parts of the interface can be found with a single button press.
Naturally, the bonkers performance and well-appointed roster of equipment comes at a price. Porsche asks a starting price of $73,450 for the 2021 Macan GTS, and our test car rang up at $91,190. This is an expensive vehicle—no doubt—and although it may be compromised in some ways with a somewhat diminutive back seat and trunk, it excels in nearly every other capacity. On the day-to-day grind, this is a capable and entertaining CUV that manages to brighten up short trips to the coffee shop or grocery store.
2020 Porsche Macan GTS Pros:
- Slick powertrain with great exhaust note
- Sharp handling
- Exterior design still draws attention
2020 Porsche Macan GTS Cons:
- Poorer-than-ideal fuel economy
- Cramped rear seats
- Better interiors in the segment
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