- The Macan and Cayenne SUVs were Porsche’s best-selling vehicles in 2020, with the Macan winning out.
- The Macan GTS drives and handles like something much smaller and way more fun.
- My 2020 loaner model started at $71,300. After options, it came to $84,090.
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Given the plethora of available compact luxury SUVs these days, you’d almost think the Porsche Macan would vanish into a sea of jelly bean-shaped anonymity. You’d be wrong. You’d be so wrong.
Even in base-trim, the Macan is a riot to drive. But today, we’re here to talk about the Macan GTS. In the Macan’s four-trim lineup, the GTS ranks second from the top below the range-topping Macan Turbo. And while you might be quick to dismiss the GTS model because it isn’t the most powerful or most expensive Macan there is, slow down.
For too long, buyers had to choose between either buying a sports car or an SUV. There was no compromise.
Now there is.
The 2020 Macan GTS: Voted most popular
Launched in 2014 as a smaller and sportier step down from the Cayenne, the Macan was refreshed for 2019 most significantly to get a heckblende rear taillight. Pre-refresh Macans have two separate taillights instead of one long one; this is the easiest way to tell them apart.
Currently, the Macan is Porsche’s best-selling vehicle. With 18,631 sold in 2020, it beat the Cayenne by 539 units.
Now, it’s plain as day that SUVs are the Porsche moneymakers. But the fact that the newer, smaller – and cheaper – Macan has stolen the top spot from the Cayenne in today’s SUV-obsessed market speaks volumes to the car’s popularity with buyers, which is well-earned.
The differences between the 2020 Macan GTS, which was what my loaner was, and the 2021 Macan GTS are minimal. Save for a few changes to the Premium Package Plus and the addition of Apple CarPlay, the two are essentially the same.
Details and safety ratings: A quick SUV
Powered by a 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V6, the Macan GTS produces a claimed 375 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. It has all-wheel drive as standard and Porsche’s seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission.
Porsche estimates the Macan GTS’s top speed to be 162 mph, and its 0-to-60 acceleration time to be 4.7 seconds. That drops to 4.5 seconds with the addition of the Sport Chrono option.
Length comes to 15.4 feet and width comes to 6.4 feet. Curb weight is 4,370 pounds and total towing capacity comes to 4,409 pounds.
At 17.6 cubic feet with the rear seats upright, the Macan GTS doesn’t have the roomiest trunk out there, but it’ll fit a week’s worth of groceries or a few weekend bags in a pinch. With a fuel tank capacity of 19.8 gallons, the Macan GTS returns 17 mpg in the city, 22 mpg on the highway, and 19 mpg combined.
The 2020 Porsche Macan GTS has not been rated for crashworthiness by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Though, despite the lack of publicly available crash test ratings, the car still earned a Consumer Reports recommendation.
What stands out: Tactile heaven
Porsche appears to be one of the last automakers to offer button-friendly interiors. There’s an infotainment screen, obviously, but there are still buttons and dials for the various radio and climate controls. The speedometer and tachometer are still analog dials.
The most immediately delightful part of the Macan is its steering wheel. Petite and thin in your hands, the wheel is tidily minimalist, lacking in extraneous buttons. Instead, it has computer mouse-like scroll wheels for the volume on one side and for a few driver information menus on the other. That’s it.
The selectable driver modes are located on a dial down by your right thumb that you can easily toggle by feel without taking your eyes off the road.
-kristen (@KristenLee) March 19, 2021
The rest of the Macan GTS’s interior has some pretty great tactile feedback. The left-handed ignition clunks heavily when you turn it, kicking the car to life or putting it to sleep. The gear selector thunks resolutely into place. The paddle shifters feel like milled metal and clink if you tap on them. The scroll wheels on the steering wheel buzz cheerfully in their cradles.
When cars all inevitably switch to touchscreen setups, swipe functions, and engine start/stop buttons, this is the stuff I’ll miss the most.
Combine the tight and responsive steering with a lightning-fast transmission and a torquey engine and you’ve got something cracking exciting on your hands. With an SUV’s ground clearance, you still sit high, yet somehow the chassis doesn’t lean terribly much in the corners. Bafflingly, the car feels like it shrinks around you instead.
Though quiet when the sport exhaust isn’t activated, the Macan GTS burbles and pops with V6 rasp encouragingly in Sport and Sport Plus modes.
All of these things urge you to drive with a bit more pep than you normally would. A bit more daringly. It rewards a heavier foot with punchy acceleration. A flick of the steering wheel with the nose-down eagerness of a dog in pursuit. And you finally feel it – that small smile tug at the corner of your mouth. Because the Macan GTS is fun, man.
What falls short: Too much of a good thing
There are two very minor grievances I had with the Macan GTS. The first is with the buttons.
I know! I just got done praising those very buttons. And as much as I love that they’re there, the arrangement is a bit chaotic. A ridge of buttons adorns either side of the center console. Overhead, another fleet of them dances around the cabin light.
I’m sure once you get used to the placement you’ll remember where everything is, but it’s overwhelming at first. I appreciated the grouping – all the traction and suspension control buttons are presented together, as are all the climate and seat heating/cooling buttons – but the buttons were still all in one concentrated spot: the center console.
If I had it my way, I’d put a bigger physical break between the groups, perhaps even separating them away from each other for ease of muscle memory. But let me be clear: I will take a dizzying array of buttons any day over a purely touchscreen interface.
Secondly, legroom in the back seat wasn’t stellar. For those shorter in the leg or for shorter trips, it’s fine. For taller folks on longer trips, stretching out might be a problem.
How the Macan GTS compares to its competitors: Power per dollar
The base price for the 2020 Macan GTS, which is what I had as a loaner, starts at $71,300. The 2021 Macan GTS sees a very slight price bump up to $72,100.
After options such as Mamba Green metallic paint ($700), the torque-vectoring plus package ($1,500), the heated multifunction GT sport steering wheel ($590), Sport Chrono package ($1,360), and Premium Package Plus ($5,020 with a Bose audio system, ventilated front seats, auto-dimming mirrors, and a panoramic sunroof) – plus the non-negotiable $1,350 destination and delivery fee – the final price of my loaner came to $84,090.
Yes. It’s a lot of money.
The Macan GTS can count the BMW X3 M40i ($56,600), Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 ($59,900), Jaguar F-Pace R-Dynamic S ($65,200), Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio ($80,800), Land Rover Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic ($58,500) and Audi SQ5 ($52,900) as competitors.
It is nearly the most expensive option in that luxury compact SUV segment, even though its power is pretty evenly matched with the rest of the competition. But hey! You get a Porsche badge, if you’re into that.
Our impressions: Sports car disguised as an SUV
After seeing just how many other options there are to choose from, it’s easy to dismiss the Macan GTS as just another luxury SUV. But my advice would be to drive one first. Although the car’s dimensions suggest something far larger, it drives more like a hot hatchback.
Due to its smaller size and lighter weight, the Macan GTS doesn’t need busloads of horsepower to make a point. Porsche pulled that off by pairing an athletic chassis and suspension setup with a turbocharged engine tuned for hauling ass. There’s a deftness to the way the SUV handles that’s not unlike what you’d find in a sports car.
Unfortunately, $72,100 is the starting price for that fun. I’m not here to tell you how to spend your money, but if there’s some disagreement between the Macan you want and how much cash you’ve got – well, there’s always the used market after a couple of years.