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2018 Porsche Macan GTS: First Drive Review

The entry-level Porsche Macan, fitted with a 252-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder, is a competent performance-tuned crossover starting at just $47,800. The flagship Macan Turbo with the Performance Package, boasting a 440-hp twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder, is an $87,700 track-ready rocket ship. While both product endcaps offer merits, our suggestion is to dismiss the two and focus your attention on the sweet spot in the middle: The 360-hp 2018 Porsche Macan GTS, priced at $68,900.

Engineered to appeal to those driving enthusiasts who choose to frequent the long, windy and circuitous route home, the 2018 Porsche Macan GTS has been methodically upgraded with the tastiest bits from Porsche’s go-fast parts bin and tuned to near-perfection. In a nutshell, the GTS badge represents a comprehensive package that focuses on handling and dynamic performance, without compromising functionality or comfort.

A Luxury-Appointed Interior Atop Proven Architecture

The 5-passenger Macan GTS sets itself apart from the other models in the lineup with distinctive cosmetic enhancements both inside and out. The exterior features black accents, which replace the bright chrome on the window trim, lower body trim and model designation. There are 20-inch Spyder Design wheels at all four corners, and the side blades — the solid panels on the lower parts of the doors — are matte black. The interior is fitted with the leather package as standard equipment. Heavily bolstered GTS sport seats, which are incredibly comfortable for nearly all body sizes and shapes, are upholstered with grippy Alcantara panels, and there are unique GTS logos on the headrests (the rear seats are tight for adults over 6 feet tall, but that is expected in this compact segment). Those looking for a bit more interior flair will want to choose the GTS Interior Package with deviated stitching in colorful Carmine Red.

It’s no secret that the Macan shares chassis architecture with the first-generation Audi Q5. But, it is a misconception that the two are identical. There are no shared body panels between the two, and Porsche has reworked nearly every component beneath the skin. Compared to the standard Macan models, the GTS flaunts upgraded air suspension and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard equipment. The chassis rides slightly lower than the other models to drop the center of gravity. As an added benefit, the vehicle height may be raised and lowered via a cabin switch to facilitate off-road prowess or to ease loading.

A Crossover With the Driveline of a Porsche 911

The Macan GTS is fitted with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 mounted longitudinally within the engine bay (mimicking the layout of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle). With direct injection and up to 17.4 psi of boost, the all-aluminum engine is rated at 360 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The powerplant is mated to a 7-speed PDK, which is a variant of Porsche’s celebrated dual-clutch gearbox that is used in its 911718 and Panamera sports cars. Mash the accelerator from a standstill and the 2018 Porsche Macan GTS launches with authority and quickly zooms up to speed (there’s a launch control mode for those who want neck-snapping acceleration). It’s official 0-to-60 sprint is 4.8 seconds, with a top speed of 159 miles per hour. The 4,200-lb crossover feels every bit as quick once the engine’s boost is fully on tap, but there is a slight boost delay if the engine is below 3,500 rpm.

While every other crossover on the road borrows a driveline from a passenger car or a truck, the Macan literally shares its driveline with a race-winning sports car, the Porsche 911. Lifted literally from the undercarriage of a Carrera 4, the rear-biased permanent all-wheel-drive system of the Macan GTS boasts the ability to split torque as needed to each driving wheel. Add in the optional Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, which assists in directional control, and the Macan displays tenacious grip. Toss it into a corner and turn the steering wheel with delicate precision, and the GTS glides from apex to apex with the effort of skiing on a well-groomed slalom. With no apparent body roll and four meaty contact patches clawing at the pavement, its only limiting factor is the tires — amazing. We have never driven a crossover that is as agile as the Macan GTS.

Sports Car Dynamics With Abundant Utility

Carving canyons isn’t the Macan GTS’ only trick. It’s also a graceful long-distance cruiser and a practical workhorse. We took the Porsche on a 350-mile cross-country drive, and it delivered 25.7 miles per gallon overall (the EPA rates it at 17 mpg in city driving and 23 mpg on the highway). Thanks to the suppleness of air suspension, the luxurious cooled seats and the crossover’s natural raised height for peering over traffic, the trip was effortless. We also filled its luggage compartment with several boxes, a week’s worth of luggage and an assortment of camera equipment — it swallowed everything, and we could still see out the back window.

Porsche didn’t need another variant of the Macan — there are already a half dozen of those — yet the GTS proved itself to be our favorite because it genuinely delivers on all its promises. Automakers have spent years agonizing about how to turn trucks into crossovers that handle like passenger cars. Porsche, in its own unique manner, has solved the riddle. The Macan GTS is a genuine sports car masquerading as a crossover.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

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