First drive: 2023 Porsche Macan GTS in the UAE
After a mid-life revamp, the GTS version of the Porsche Macan finds itself as the flagship of the German carmaker’s sub-compact crossover line, as the Macan Turbo disappears from the current range. Not that it matters though, as the new GTS is just as powerful as the “old” Turbo.
The Macan has built a rep as a high-performance SUV that borders on being a proper sports car. That’s expected, being a Porsche, and looks the part as well, with a Cayenne-inspired corporate snout and a swoopy profile that vaguely looks like a 911. The front bumper is mostly just grille, while the GTS’s sporting style is complemented with dark 21-inch wheels and blacked-out exterior accents. It looks expensive, but confoundingly, it’s even more expensive than anyone expects a little crossover to be.
The interior of the Macan GTS is well-appointed with high-quality leather and oddly limited padding. The latest dashboard design is screen-heavy, while the centre-console’s barrage of physical buttons have been largely replaced with a touch-sensitive panel. And the trim can be had in a decent selection of colour combinations, should you custom-order your car.
The sporty front seats are firmly supportive and heavily bolstered. Heated and 8-way electrically adjustable as standard, you need to cough up extra dough for full 18-way adjustability, ventilation and memory options.
The rear bench has enough headroom for regular-sized people, but legroom is tight. The boot volume is enough for most day-to-day cargo-hauling tasks, but ultimately less than in most rivals.
The elaborately-named “Porsche Communication Management” is the brand’s 10.9-inch touchscreen display, and it works well enough in terms of response, user interface and connectivity features such as Apply Carplay.
Other standard features include the usual all-round LED lighting, power tailgate, smart key, front/rear parking sensors with rear camera, decent three-zone auto a/c with rear vents, standard 8-speaker stereo and four USB ports, as well as a standard panoramic glass roof that you can delete for zero cost!
It also comes with a variety of advanced safety features, such as lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking.
Under the hood, the top Macan is powered by a 2.9-litre turbo V6 that produces 434 hp at 5700-6600 rpm and 550 Nm of torque at 1900-5600 rpm. The all-wheel-drive GTS is paired with a 7-speed “PDK” dual-clutch automatic, which looks outdated in the age of 10-speed transmissions, but it’s quick and does the job fine. It also comes equipped with Porsche’s Sport Chrono package, which includes a sport mode that sharpens the engine and transmission response, and adds a launch control feature.
The engine is obviously immensely powerful, and the juice is delivered in a reasonably linear fashion for a turbo motor. The gearchanges are instant, but there is a very slight jerkiness in response when moving off and at low speeds, which is typical of dual-clutch transmissions.
The GTS also has a sport-tuned exhaust, and it’s fun to make it grunt. But you’ll be paying the price at the pump, with as-tested fuel consumption north of 15 litres/100 km (6.7 km/litre) if you have a heavy foot.
With 10 mm lower suspension that’s stiffer than a regular Macan, the GTS is meant to be sports car-like. It handles beautifully, with precise and responsive steering, and the all-wheel drive system combined with wide tyres (265/40 front and 295/35 rear) provide excellent traction and neutral fast-cornering behaviour. It can legitimately chase down a 911 that’s piloted by a lesser driver.
The air suspension is well-tuned, providing a reasonably comfortable ride on all but the harshest surfaces. Can’t speak for cabin noise though, as you’ll hear the faint rumble of the engine most of the time.
While it’s technically an SUV, the Macan is far from an effortless offroader unless you know what you’re doing. The tyres are too low-profile and the ground clearance is limited, even with height-adjustable suspension. You do get hill descent control, a smart all-wheel-drive system and oodles of torque, should you feel adventurous.
Overall, the 2023 Porsche Macan GTS is an impressive high-performance crossover that offers the day-to-day thrills of driving a serious sports sedan. The base Macan is a sales hit, but when it comes to the GTS, it’s hard to picture the target segment for this high-priced small-sized vehicle, but at least it does not compromise on the ideals of how a Porsche should behave.
For UAE/GCC prices and specs, visit the Porsche buyer guide.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury