Anyone with anything to do with making a sporty, mid-sized crossover must inwardly squirm over the mere mention of the Porsche Macan. It was already better than everything else - the BMW X3, the Audi Q5, the Jaguar F-Pace - and that was before Porsche updated it.
Said facelift has been in production since August 2018, but it’s only now that Stuttgart has gotten around to making an updated version of the one ‘us lot’ like most - the GTS. And it’s not just a simple nip and tuck - no, it gets a whole new engine.
While the Macan S makes do with a 3.0-litre single-turbo V6, the GTS has a 2.9-litre twin-turbo unit. If that sounds familiar, it should do - it’s the same Audi co-developed six-banger you’ll find in the RS5. The power and torque gains over the S are healthy rather than dramatic, with 348bhp becoming 375bhp and 354lb ft rising to 384lb ft. This cuts the 0-62mph time from 5.1 to 4.7 seconds.
While it might not be much quicker on paper, it does feel noticeably more potent. The more modest output of the V6 relative to its other applications is the result of lower boost pressures for the two turbochargers, and that means throttle response is wickedly sharp. Turbo lag hasn’t been eliminated entirely, but there’s so little it’s just not worth bitching about.
It sounds much better, too. The V6 in the S is oddly muted, but there are no such issues with the GTS and its standard-fit sports exhaust. There are sweeter-sounding six-cylinder engines out there, but there’s something satisfying and purposeful about the angry noises made by this one.
Gearshifts, meanwhile, are dispatched with aggressive efficiency thanks to the seven-speed dual-clutch ‘PDK’ automatic gearbox. Although it works perfectly well left to its own devices, you’ll still find yourself wanting to take control, which you can do using Porsche’s beautifully made aluminium paddles. Rivals who stick nasty plastic tabs on the back of their steering wheels should take note.
The Macan is a heavier brute than you might expect, with an unladen weight approaching two tonnes. This is what I believe the Internet refers to as a ‘chonky boi’ these days. But it very rarely feels like a car with a circa-1900kg unladen weight; not unless you’re pushing your luck in tighter corners, where the GTS can start to feel a little unwieldy.
Most of the time, it’s deeply impressive. It can be chucked around in a way most other cars of this type wouldn’t take kindly to at all, lapping up fast changes in direction with the all-wheel drive system clinging on brilliantly even when you’re getting greedy with the throttle on corner exit.
When the envelope is pushed, the rear bias of the Macan GTS becomes obvious. There’s just enough slip at the rear to make you feel heroic, at which point the all-wheel drive system subtly nudges everything back into line.
The steering is another electric power-assisted masterclass from Porsche, with good weighting, a decent amount of speed and pure consistency. Feedback is mostly absent, but we’re fine with that.
The GTS gets PASM adaptive dampers as standard, but with a 15mm suspension drop you don’t get with the S when equipped thusly. The car we tried in Portugal instead had the optional air setup, which is 10mm lower, dropping slightly closer to the ground than the PASM setup in sportier settings.
It does a great job of keeping the body level-ish, but don’t go thinking a Macan GTS on air is an ultimate waft-machine when switching back to a less focused driving mode; the new 20-inch wheels ensure that it’s never going to have a silky-smooth ride. It’s good enough, though, and when you’re not belting around like an idiot, the Macan is a fabulous mile-muncher.
Turn the shouty exhaust off, and the GTS becomes a serene space. Everything you touch feels plush and well-made, and the bits that didn’t work before - like the giant buttons on the centre console which are now smaller - have been fixed.
The 12.3-inch infotainment system is the same one now used across most of the Porsche range. It’s fiddlier than I’d like, but the touchscreen looks great and is more than responsive enough.
What’s particularly successful about the Macan GTS is that it’s so much better executed than all the other mid-tier fast crossover stuff. The Audi SQ5 is a diesel-only model for much of the world, and won’t drive as nicely. The BMW X4 M40i doesn’t sound as good, and have you seen the way it looks? Buying a Mercedes GLC 43 instead of the bonkers 63 doesn’t seem quite right, while over at Jaguar, there’s a cavernous gulf between the F-Pace P300 inline-four range-topper and the thoroughly silly SVR.
All of these are cars that can be picked fault with, but the Macan GTS? I’m struggling. The only potential stumbling block is the price. It starts at £58,816, and with the way Porsche options normally go, I was able to inflate that to over £70k roughly 30 seconds after opening the configurator.
Does the Macan GTS feel worth it, though? Yes, it does.