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The GTS is new to the Porsche Macan lineup for 2020.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Demand for SUVs is still going strong, especially for luxury-car companies like Porsche. The German automaker had a banner year in Canada in 2019, selling 9,025 vehicles, up 1.4 per cent from 2018. Its sales success is largely due to two SUVs – the Cayenne, which accounted for 3,129 units sold last year, and the smaller, best-selling Macan, which totalled 3,487 units.

“Last year, we sold almost 100,000 Macan models [globally]. Macan has everything – a lot of space for the whole family. At the same time it drives like a real sports car,” says Ben Weinberger, spokesperson for the Macan, Cayenne and Panamera.

Porsche has to keep the Macan fresh because “the competitors are not sleeping,” says Weinberger. Hence, a new GTS trim. The GTS (short for Gran Turismo Sport) is the sportiest Macan on the market.

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“GTS started in the early ‘60s when Ferdinand Alexander Porsche started to create the 904 – it was a sports car that was designed to win long-distance races. The philosophy was to bring more comfort in a real race car, and over the years it changed. Now, it’s about bringing more sportiness into daily drivers,” says Weinberger.

Black exterior accents make the GTS distinct from the standard Macan.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The Macan GTS delivers on that front. It’s sporty, agile and fun to drive, yet comfortable behind the wheel. Along my 150-kilometre coastal route, which passes Portugal’s Cabo Da Roca, Europe’s most western point, the Macan feels stable, well-balanced and sure-footed along the sweeping roads and sharp curves. Even driving through tiny villages, it’s not too big to be cumbersome or nerve-racking on narrow streets. It doesn’t feel like an SUV. It feels like a true Porsche sports car.

Powering the GTS is a 2.9-litre V-6 twin-turbo engine. It has a little less displacement compared to its predecessor, which was a 3.0-litre, but the second turbocharger pumps out more power than its predecessor - making a total of 375 hp and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. It also accelerates faster than the previous version. It’ll hit 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, shaving three-tenths off its predecessor. Sure, that’s not much, and it won’t come in handy if you’re running late to pick up the kids from school. But it’s still an impressive stat for an SUV. Mated to the engine is a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox, which is responsive, and shifts fast and easily to higher gears.

What sets the GTS apart from its siblings is the styling, which is more striking and bolder than other trims. Black is the dominant accent colour on the exterior, from the front grille to the painted side-blades, highlighted with GTS script. The LED headlights and rear LED light bar are also darker than those on other models. The roof spoiler, rear diffuser and tailpipes are also painted black, along with the Porsche Macan GTS letters stamped on the back. The wheels – either 20 or 21 inches – come in different styles and colour options; you can even get green-painted rims to match the exterior paint colour. It’s not one of my favorite looks, but it’s definitely unique and unlike anything else on the road.

GTS buyers have the option of getting rims painted to match the colour of the exterior.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Some trends, such as the eye-catching exterior colours, come from Porsche’s smaller cars. “People like to have a very nice colour – not only the boring black, white and silver," says Weinberger. “So we transfer the colours from the smaller sports cars to the bigger cars and to the SUVs. With the Macan, you have Carmine red, crayon, mamba green, Miami blue – really shiny colours.”

The GTS is unique, but will it be around much longer since the Macan is going electric? Yes and no. “The next Macan generation will also be all-electric, but we will also have [a] Macan with a combustion engine because not every market is as fast as the others when it comes to electrification,” he says. Europe or Asia are a bit more ahead of the curve, he adds, but the long driving distances and current state of charging infrastructure means the combustion engine still has a place in the U.S. and Canada.

The new Macan GTS starts at $76,000, but be careful with the options – they can add up quickly. It’ll hit showrooms this summer.

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Tech specs

The Macan GTS is powered by a 2.9-litre V-6 twin-turbo engine.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

  • Base price: $76,000 (+ $1,100 destination)
  • Engine: 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo engine with 375 hp and 383 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Transmission/Drive: 7-speed dual-clutch (PDK); AWD
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km city and highway): 9.6L/100 km (combined)
  • Alternatives: BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q3, Jaguar E-Pace, Cadillac XT4

Looks

The colour-matched rims may not be to everyone's taste.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Sharp design with elegant lines. Black accents across its body give it an aggressive look. Love the exterior colour choices, too. With everything from mamba green to Miami blue, there’s no way you’ll miss this Porsche on the road. But skip the coloured rim options; it’s not pretty in some shades.

Interior

The centre console is cluttered, with too many buttons, dials and toggles.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

High-quality cabin with GTS logos plastered throughout so you know this is no ordinary Macan. Even the eight-way front sport seats are embossed with GTS lettering on the headrest. The seats have high bolsters with excellent lateral support to hold you in place when cornering fast. While tech lovers will adore the jet-fighter controls in the centre console, I find them distracting. Too many buttons, dials, and toggles make it confusing to find items fast.

Performance

It’s easy to forget you’re driving an SUV, thanks to the agile, nimble, and dynamic driving manners. The chassis has been lowered by 25 millimetres to make the Macan more aerodynamic while improving handling and traction. It feels like a true Porsche sports car.

Technology

Loaded with technology including a new smartphone tray and the Porsche Connect app, which lets you access several functions using your smartphone. Safety technology includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam assist, Park Assist with a rear-view camera and surround view, and a heated windscreen. Unfortunately, many of these features cost extra.

Cargo

The Macan has ample rear cargo space.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

With 500 litres of space behind the rear seats, there’s ample cargo room for golf clubs, grocery bags and your kid’s hockey equipment.

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The verdict

The Macan GTS is a bit on the pricey side, but it’s a true Porsche with sporty, nimble and fun driving dynamics and a distinct look that differentiates it from its siblings.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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