Tenerife, Canary Islands – Porsche closed off a 4.2 kilometre section of ascending, sinuous mountain tarmac on the flanks of this fascinating island so the assembled (and jet-lagged) automotive pencil pushers could have a bit of fun pressing on in the test vehicles. No oncoming traffic is a wonderful thing when flinging up an unfamiliar twisting road.
But I’m not piloting a 911. A compact SUV, actually. Strange times we live in.
Up ahead, the 911 Carrera driven by a Porsche instructor is setting a pretty good pace, and I’m managing to follow his line and not embarrassing myself totally by staying with him (okay, he’s probably staying with me). The banana plantations and rock faces blur by as I clip the apexes, flick the paddles, and mat it up the short straights. The seats hug and the 3.0L twin-turbo six blares through its sport exhaust.
But I’m not piloting a 911. A compact SUV, actually. Strange times we live in. A high-ridin’ all-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle that thinks it’s a bloody sports car. Welcome to the 2017 Porsche Macan GTS, the new middle child placed between the Macan S ($59,200) and Macan Turbo ($85,800). Available the second quarter of 2016, the 2017 Macan GTS starts at $73,100.
This is the sixth Porsche model to wear the GTS badge (joins the Boxster, Cayman, 911, Cayenne, and Panamera), a moniker we know to signal agility over outright speed, and yes, value, if we dare use that descriptor for an indulgence such as this.
The Macan GTS takes the 3.0L Twin-turbo V6 of the S and juices it up by 20 horses and 30 lb-ft to 360 hp at 6,000 rpm and 369 lb-ft, available from 1,650-4,000 rpm. This increase comes via a boost pressure increase of 0.2 bar to 1.2 bar, reworked intake and reduced back pressure. This shaves a couple of tenths off the zero to 100 km/h time (down to 5.2 sec or 5.0 with the optional Sport Chrono package) and top speed is up two klicks to 256 km/h.
The Macan GTS goodness does not stop there. It gets standard 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission and air suspension with PASM (Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management) tuned for more body control and lowered by 10mm. The air suspension does provide adjustable ride height, if more ground clearance is needed.
Looking for the 911? First Drive: 2017 Porsche 911
Twenty-inch matte black alloys are standard, fitted with 265/45R20 tires up front and 295/40R20 at the rear. Bigger front brakes are from the Macan Turbo – 360mm front discs with six-piston fixed calipers and out back, 330 mm discs. Bright red calipers, thank you.
Naturally, the Macan GTS has all-wheel-drive. In normal circumstances all thrust flows to the rear wheels, but if necessary the system can direct up to 100 percent of the power to the front wheels.
The Macan GTS follows the visual cues of its brethren – black trim, headlights and lettering. A first for Macan is available LED headlights. Inside we get very nice Alcantara-trimmed GTS sport seats that hug you in all the right places. This car had an optional GTS interior bundle that adds a red tachometer dial along with contrasting seatbelts and stitching. The steering wheel draws inspiration from that of the 918 super car, and Porsche’s new infotainment system – Porsche Communication Management – features a larger, high-resolution touchscreen with pinch, scroll and swipe functions, along with smart phone connectivity. Porsche Connect provides Apple CarPlay integration. Get the navigation and you can add LTE W-Fi hot-spot capability.
So, the 2017 Macan GTS is all wired up for the needs of the modern connected motorist, but that is not a concern for this writer as we leave the closed route and continue ascending, up, up, away from the lush coastline. I’m more interested in connecting with the roads. While the steering isn’t as feelsome as the 911’s, it’s still accurate and it resolutely guides this 1,895 kg ute over the mostly mirror smooth ribbons of tarmac. It’s a balanced piece, flowing easily from bend to bend. Over one stretch of particularly crap pavement, the GTS (in non-Sport mode) smoothed things out admirably, suggesting the standard air suspension will keep Yolanda Yoga and her posse relatively comfortable on the tortured streets of Toronto.
Palm trees give way to pines forests, then low lying scrub. After an hour or so negotiating mostly narrow switchbacks we enter a bizarre landscape of dark, jagged rock dominated by the Mount Teide, a volcano that last erupted in 1798. Its 3,718-metre peak is the highest point above sea level of any island in the Atlantic.
We pull off the road and snap a few shots. Now into its third model year, the compact Macan, which finds its bones in the Audi Q5, is still a rare sight in Toronto. And we can largely blame that on limited supply and a resulting long waiting list. If you have the jones for this new zippy GTS sibling that finds a sweet spot of performance, visuals, value, and is armed with Porsches latest connectivity system, best put your order in… like, yesterday.
Pricing: 2017 Porsche Macan GTS
Base Price: $73,100