Gran Turismo Sport means business, and pleasure
ROME, ITALY: I won’t attempt to even fathom what the Porsche purists might have in their beating Stuttgart hearts, but I’d like to think that they’ve softened up by now about their favorite brand conjuring up sport utility vehicles (yes two, in fact). If you consider that these utes have basically saved the brand from the unforgiving abyss of bankruptcy, well, what’s not to like?
With the midsize Cayenne debuting in 2003 and the compact Macan in 2014, Porsche successfully executed a one-two punch in a popular category previously unthinkable for luxury and performance brands to frolic in. SUVs and their pragmatic, practical values were, after all, perceived to be intrinsically antithetical (traditionally, at least) to the concept of a limousine or a sports car. Nonetheless, it was a gamble that paid off handsomely. And, these Porsches are indeed that — handsome.
And the status quo at Porsche has since pretty much seen the SUV duo pacing the portfolio in sales. Porsche AG Executive Board Member for Sales and Marketing Detlev von Platen said that the company has “been working hard to enable more customers than ever before to fulfill their dream of owning a Porsche,” and the Macan in particular helps tick that off in one’s bucket list.
Indeed, last year, amid the ongoing global semiconductor shortage, Porsche models with the highest demand were again the brand’s SUVs, led by the Macan (88,362 units), followed closely by the Cayenne (83,071).
While being the entry point into the aspirational, much-admired German sports car brand, the Macan earns its hallowed badge through a solid build and similar execution with its more costly siblings. There’s no “settling” when one decides on the Macan. The SUV doesn’t only hold its own in its segment; its virtues are unique and clear.
That’s why when the prospect of a drive aboard a Porsche — any Porsche — that is still available at the fountain area of our spa lodge in a verdant patch of historic estate on the Roman coast, I set my eyes upon a redder-than-red Macan GTS. “Can I get that one?” I say to Porsche Asia Pacific Head of PR and Communications Brendan Mok. “Sure,” he says with a grin. “I suggest you throw your stuff in the back seat just so they know you’ve reserved it.” I comply immediately.
The route that will take us from our QC Termeroma lodgings to the Autodromo Vallelunga for our track day has been pre-programmed on the navi system of the vehicle. We follow a 71-kilometer route past sweeping vistas, undulations, and twists and turns that reveal how unflappable the Macan is at speed. Past the Tyrrhenian Sea on the left, I accelerate and get even closer to the water of Lago di Bracciano (Lake Bracciano). Mr. Mok and I make a quick stop for photos, a chance to stretch our legs, and to take in the spring chill and fresh air.
Unlike other Porsche models whose Turbo trims are the highest variant, the Macan GTS is the alpha of its line, and it flexes this fact through differentiators that serve to enhance both aesthetics and performance.
First off, the Macan GTS gets height-adjustable sport air suspension with the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive damper control system. If you wish, you can lower the suspension by “a further 10 millimeters” versus the optional air suspension in the base Macan and Macan S. The sportiness is furthered by performance tires for better lateral grip. The springs have been stiffened, anti-roll bars have been enlarged, and the Macan gets specialized dampers to improve dynamic performance. Still, I appreciate the higher-than-normal (compared to sedans) driving position, plus the visibility — particularly since I’m enjoying the sights of driving in this Italian countryside.
Under the hood of the Macan GTS is the most potent motivator for the model line: a 2.9-liter V6 biturbo that blurts out 440ps and 550Nm. Notably, the power comes from 1,900 to 5,600rpm. Although I don’t try it out, Porsche says this allows the SUV to sprint from a standstill to 100kph in as little as 4.3 ticks with the optional Sport Chrono package or 4.3 seconds without it. The top rate for this Macan is an autobahn-worthy 272kph, the highest rate this model has ever mustered.
To rein in the power and speed, the vehicle gets “generously sized” gray cast-iron brakes with red-colored calipers. The Porsche Surface Coated Brake (PSCB) with 390×38 mm front discs and 356×28 mm rear discs features tungsten carbide coating. A Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) can be optioned.
All-wheel drive sees the Porsche Traction Management (PTM) center differential prioritizing the rear axle “whenever it can.” Porsche maintains that this rear-biased powertrain helps to increase and improve cornering speed because it keeps the front tires focused on steering the vehicle.
Your right foot will be rewarded by both tangible velocity and an audible (albeit reasonable) growl, the latter courtesy of a sports exhaust system (finished by extended black pipes) specific to the GTS flavor.
Speaking of black, Porsche endows the GTS line (including the Macan GTS, of course) with lots of black accents. Headlights are dark-tinted, and also feature the Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS); as do the three-dimensional rear lights with LED light strip. While the front and rear bumpers are painted in the vehicle color, the front trim gets a black finish along with the diffuser and the twin-wing roof spoiler.
Inside the cabin, the Macan GTS is fitted with a black rev counter with a “GTS,” which also appears on the seats. Rich textures and premium materials are put to work: Race-Tex for the seat center, center armrest, and door panel; brushed aluminum in others; while leather wraps the multifunction steering wheel. The seats (with eight-way adjustment) are well-bolstered and comfortable for support even in the most dynamic of driving stints.
By the way, just like other GTS models, there are numerous ways to customize your own Macan GTS. One of these is to opt for a Bose surround sound system and a smartphone compartment with inductive charging. “The adaptive cruise control including Traffic Jam Assist, Park Assist with reversing camera and Surround View, a heated windscreen and ionizer are also available for extra safety and comfort,” reports Porsche.
When Vallelunga finally comes into view, I feel a tinge of sadness at disembarking from the sweet ride. But I take the chance to speak to Porsche 911 Model Line Simon Lohre about what the three letters are all about for the Stuttgart-headquartered supercar brand.
“The most important thing for the GTS,” explains Mr. Lohre, “is the everyday usability compared with a lot of emotion and performance. So it’s a combination of both of those worlds. So I guess this is the main target of the GTS strategy.”
When asked about business case for the line: “We have the S customer, as well as the Turbo customer, and some people are not quite sure whether an S or a Turbo model is the right decision. So for these people, we chose the GTS model line. It’s the best of both worlds and it’s always a good talking piece.”
The Macan GTS, set to arrive in the Philippines this year, certainly fits the bill — and more.