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Porsche Macan GTS 2022 review – does the GTS still have its sporty SUV rivals trounced?

As capable and engaging as ever, the Macan GTS might be ageing but it retains an unerring focus rare in the class

Evo rating
  • Steering, body control and balance still best in class
  • Powertrain has lost its shine; feels heavy

Porsche’s Macan might feel like it’s been on life support since the announcement of its all-electric successor, but the traditional combustion-engined midsize SUV has undergone something of an embalming in the last few years, halting the ageing process despite now entering its ninth year in production. The reason for this is simple: the Macan GTS is just as good to drive now as it’s always been, fundamentals set by Porsche’s engineers at its conception having more than stood the test of time.

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The range structure has ebbed and flowed in various directions over the years. There’s now just the turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and single V6 biturbo powertrain options, split between Macan and Macan T for the fours, and Macan S and GTS for the sixes; the last of which we’re driving here.

In 2021, the Macan was given its third update alongside the axing of the Turbo, incorporating an interior tech package derived from the current Cayenne and some updated styling – subtle though it is.

Yet like before, it’s the GTS that’s the most dynamic iteration, and therefore in our eyes most interesting of the bunch, having now adopted Porsche’s 2.9-litre hot-V V6 that’s also been doing the business in Panameras and the occasional Audi Sport product for the last few years. In GTS form, the 2.9 produces 434bhp between 5700rpm and 6600rpm, 59bhp up on the current S. It’ll get the Macan to 62mph in 4.5sec with the assistance of launch control.

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Yet the real difference with the GTS is in the set-up. Its overall ride height has been reduced by 15mm and the Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM), which comes as standard on the GTS, has had its three settings – Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus – recalibrated to be ‘sportier’ across the board. There is also a set of 21-inch matt black RS Spyder wheels fitted as standard, and the front brakes are the larger six-piston calipers with 360mm discs as fitted to the Macan Turbo.

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> Read our review of the Porsche 911 GTS

Despite harbouring serious misgivings about the potential sportiness of small SUVs, once you’ve driven it there is no denying that the Macan GTS is a seriously impressive feat of engineering. Things start well, because it sounds rather good, with that standard sports exhaust providing a nicely raucous note from the V6. The gearshifts from the PDK ’box are quick when you are in full Sport Plus mode and the claimed 0-62mph time of 4.5sec seems eminently achievable. Leave the ’box in Drive and the shifts are intuitive and quick to shift to meet your needs, but it’s when you opt to use the pair of metal-look paddles attached to the back of the steering wheel that you can really get stuck into the GTS’s performance.

With the PASM in its firmest setting the GTS turns in with impressive alacrity and lateral grip, with iron-clad body control that defies its hefty kerb weight. Through direction changes it just shrugs off its mass and transitions like a modern four-wheel-drive hot hatch. The steering is also nicely weighted and you can even detect some feel.

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There is always a sense that it is bludgeoning the laws of physics rather than bending them subtly, but nevertheless it is something that’s largely unmatched in the class. The PTV torque vectoring differential does buff away some of the shine, not in the sense that it has a detrimental effect on the GTS’s overall handling talent, rather that it’s technology and hardware that’s forcing the Macan to its will. Get greedy with the throttle in a corner and the diff will happily send too much power to an outside rear wheel, but the feeling is synthesised, similar in fact to hot hatchbacks that feature the same sort of tech.

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Away from driving it like you’ve stolen it, the GTS retains perfectly acceptable road manners when you’re just popping to the shops, quietening down and riding with aplomb. It works best on UK roads in its Sport setting, with the throttle response suitably crisp and the ride and body control on the right side of taught. Sport Plus may deliver the best chassis response, but rough UK roads can catch it out.

Prices and rivals

With more power, so does the new Macan GTS have a chunky new starting price of £68,800. This puts it much closer to hard-hitting rivals from both Germany and Italy. Our preferred sporty SUV is still the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, which despite obvious compromises in tech and build quality, still seems to transcend its SUV form to feel like a giant hot hatchback, and without the synthesised feeling that the Macan can exhibit. It is more expensive, mind, starting at around £10k more than the Porsche at £79,619.

Jaguar’s brilliant and brutish F-Pace SVR is within a couple of thousand pounds of the Alfa at £81,510, and rebutts the high-energy Italian with a more boorish supercharged V8 engine and a less agile and delicate handling balance. The Jag’s inherently impressive poise is there, though, and it now even has the superb interior, tech and desirability factor that not even the Porsche can match.
Go up to BMW’s £89,070 X3 M Competition and it’ll cost you a whole lot more, but then it hits much harder than the Porsche. AMG’s modern plug-in GLC is still a year away at least, and that’ll likely sit much closer to the big £100k mark judging by how quickly manufacturers are inflating prices.

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