2020 Porsche Macan GTS excites like the hot hatch it is

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SUVs provide cold comfort in Wisconsin winter. They aren’t my favorite vehicles, but their all-wheel-drive systems and raised ride heights handle cold and snow better than my favorites. Their milquetoast driving dynamics, however, fail to feed my soul.

The 2020 Porsche Macan GTS is a great alternative to the common SUV because it’s essentially a hot hatch in crossover clothing. It’s also the perfect vehicle for the first signs of spring.

The GTS completes the Macan lineup and slots in as the sportiest version of the sportiest SUV on the market. That’s soul food.

I only have to get into the driver seat to start to notice the differences between the Macan and the Nautirogue-RV4s of the world. It sits lower, sports a smaller steering wheel, and has a sports car seating position with well-bolstered sport buckets complete with Alcantara inserts. It also features Alcantara trim on the center console and doors, and it comes with a 10.9-inch touchscreen. GTS exclusives include black brushed-aluminum kick plates with Macan GTS script and the GTS logo on the front and rear headrests.

On the outside, the Macan GTS goes for a sinister look with black-painted elements on the front fascia and rear diffuser, black wheels, black lower door inserts, dark taillights, black Macan GTS scripts, and dark exhaust tips.

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

My joy grows when I fire up the engine. It’s a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 that’s more spirited than the Macan S model’s single-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. It kicks out 375 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, which bests the S by 27 hp and 29 lb-ft of torque and the previous 2017 Macan GTS by 15 hp and 14 lb-ft of torque. It also exhales through a standard sport exhaust system that gives this V-6 a sporty growl that fits in well with the brand’s familiar flat-6 exhaust note. Hot tip: always keep the exhaust in its louder setting.

On the road, the V-6 acts the way I tell it to, and that’s all handled through a combination of my right foot and the steering wheel-mounted drive-mode controller. Thanks to the optional Sport Chrono package, this controller adds Sport+ and Individual modes and a Sport Response button.

In Comfort mode, the engine and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission work in concert to provide relaxed power that responds better the deeper I stab the throttle. When I turn it to the Sport and especially Sport+ modes the powertrain comes alive, like a dog eager to please the whims of its throttle foot master. The transmission holds the gears low to keep the power coming, and fires of staccato shifts to grab the next gear quickly. The Sport Response button in the middle of the drive-mode dial goes even further by giving the engine maximum responsiveness for 20-second spurts.

 

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

In either of the Sport modes, the launch control system enables a 0-60 mph sprint of 4.5 seconds, which is 0.4 second quicker than the S model. The power jolts me at launch, the engine braps between gears, and gets the Macan GTS up to extra-legal speeds faster than I can say Sorentescape-X30. It can also go all the way to 162 mph, 5 mph higher than the Macan S, but I could say a slew of dull SUV names while ramping up to that speed.

Snow has dominated the Midwest late this winter, so this tester is equipped with Michelin Pilot Alpin winter tires. Big and staggered—245/45R20 up front and 295/40R20 in the rear—they’re rigid enough to provide welcome feedback through the SUV’s direct steering. During the three other seasons (rain, construction, and premature winter/Indian summer), the Macan GTS gets grippier summer tires of the same size.

The Macan GTS sits even lower than other Macan models thanks to a standard air suspension that drops the ride height an inch versus the already sporty Macan S. It adds to the sports car seating position and the hot hatch handling.

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

In corners the standard air suspension and adaptive dampers help this 4,370-lb vehicle stay impressively flat and transfer its weight side-to-side like a smaller, lighter vehicle—basically, like a hot hatch. It’s not the time of year to go barreling into clover leafs or to create my own little autocross courses, but the Macan GTS delivers more fun than is possible in other SUVs. That’s welcome now that the streets are dry after a cold, snowy winter.

The Macan GTS stops well, too, thanks to standard 14.2-inch front rotors with red 6-piston calipers and 13-inch rear rotors with single-piston calipers. Opt for the $3,490 surface-coated brakes and you’ll get better wear and larger rotors for even better stopping power.

The Porsche of SUVs manages just enough SUV feel to draw in today’s SUV-happy customers. The ride is every-day comfortable rather than sports car firm, and it doesn’t even beat me in up Sport+ mode. The cargo space checks in at a useful-but-small-for-the-class 17.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 53 cubes with them folded. It also looks enough like an SUV to fool ’em into buying what is essentially a big hot hatch.

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

2020 Porsche Macan GTS

The Macan GTS may be the most fun SUV on the market, but it comes at a hefty premium. The Macan starts at $53,450 and the Macan S at $61,550, but the Macan GTS costs $73,450. Add in options like my tester has, including torque vectoring for $1,500 and the Sport Chrono package for $1,360, and the Macan GTS approaches or tops $80,000, though that’s still less than the 434-hp, $86,000 Macan Turbo.

With the GTS, Porsche decks out the Macan with more power and many of the best performance bits to make it feel as sporty as a hot hatch. That creates an engaging driving experience that warms my heart after a hard winter and too many soulless SUVs.

Porsche provided a week with the 2020 Macan GTS to help melt the snow and restore some excitement in the author’s driving routine.



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