As much fun as they are, sports cars like the Porsche 911 Carrera demand some sacrifices if they’re serving as daily drivers. Whether you’ve just adopted a child, taken up a new hobby, or moved to a house at the end of a sometimes washed-out road, your beloved P-car just doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore – we get it. Luckily, the automaker has a solution: the 2021 Porsche Macan GTS.
The Macan is arguably the most athletic four-door in Porsche’s lineup. And as is the case with the company’s other models, the GTS variant is an excellent sweet spot of power, performance, and design without breaking the bank. Powering this slick machine is a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 making 375 horsepower and 383 pound-feet, a useful upgrade over the 2021 Macan S’ 348 ponies. Darkened exterior accents and a slightly stiffer suspension further set the GTS apart, with revised interior trim adding to the appeal.
Full disclosure: The vehicle we drove was actually a 2020 model, but it’s mechanically identical and very similarly priced to the 2021 GTS. That changes next year, when the trim adopts the 434-hp V6 of the current Macan Turbo, at which time the S will get the aforementioned 375-hp engine. Confused? So are we. But that doesn’t change that the sleek Macan GTS is a nearly ideal daily driver for family-oriented folks suffering from 911 withdrawals.
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Squint a little and it’s easy to see DNA from the classic 911 in the Macan. The thick D-pillar and swooping rear quarter window is pure Porsche, with GTS-signature bits like a gloss black roof spoiler, window surrounds, badging, and grille trim that all accentuate the SUV’s shape. The RS Spyder Design 20-inch wheels are a particular highlight, looking bold and sporty with their classic mesh design. Tinted head- and taillights further the GTS’ sinister appearance relative to other Macan models. Overall, the familiar design is aging very nicely, although we still haven’t grown to love those weird “side blades” on the doors.
Inside, there’s plenty of Alcantara trim on the seat centers, center console armrest, and door panels, and GTS-specific black aluminum trim finds its way to the dashboard. As expected of any Porsche, it’s all assembled with attention to detail that’s among the best in the small SUV segment. Nearly every touchpoint is covered in either leather, microfiber suede, or excellent soft plastics, something we couldn’t say of the similarly priced Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 we drove a few weeks ago. And even though the horizontal bridgework of buttons and controls surrounding the shifter is familiar from other Porsches, it still looks and works well.
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GTS stands for “Grand Touring Sport,” and the Macan certainly drives appropriately. Over bad pavement, the ride is smooth and well-controlled, thanks in part to standard four-corner air suspension and adaptive dampers that can vary the ride from firm to soft with the press of a button. The compact Porsche is also well insulated from sonic intrusions, with limited wind noise and roar from the tires (though they do serve up some audible slap over steel expansion joints). The standard sport exhaust quiets down to a low growl in its quietest setting, appropriate for a long drive.
The well-bolstered sport seats, standard on the GTS, are firm and supportive, and the Alcantara inserts keep them feeling cozy on cool mornings without getting nasty in hot weather. There’s decent space up front, although the back seat is decidedly more confining than the aforementioned GLC; even if there’s adequate room for two 6-foot adults, the low roofline and narrow windows induce claustrophobia on long drives. At 17.6 cubic feet with the seat up or 52.6 with it down, cargo room lags behind the GLC by 1.8 and 3.9 respectively, but it’s still adequate for a weekend away.
A standard 10.9-inch touchscreen display highlights the Macan GTS’ tech package, and it is beautiful and easy to use. It has a few surprising standard features, like a Wi-Fi hotspot with 4G-LTE connectivity, yet Porsche charges $360 for Apple CarPlay integration – don’t worry, the updated 2022 Macan will have wireless CarPlay and wired Android Auto standard, thanks to an upgrade to Porsche’s latest infotainment package.
Even with the confusing feature packaging, the so-called Porsche Communication Management infotainment system is reasonably intuitive. Touch response is prompt, and the standard navigation is well-detailed and nice to look at. The base audio system is good enough for satellite radio and streaming services like Spotify, but music junkies running higher-fidelity files would definitely be happier with the optional Bose surround sound system.
That aforementioned adaptive exhaust is the first indicator that this is no mere compact crossover. When set to its sportiest setting, the tailpipes let out a fantastic shriek from the 2.9-liter V6 on full acceleration, with attendant crackles on overrun and blats with each gear shift. Speaking of, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is excellent at choosing gears on its own, downshifting on heavy braking and holding gears appropriately. The driver does get a nice-feeling set of wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and the PDK gearbox responds to those inputs instantly.
Our tester’s optional Sport Chrono package includes easy-to-use launch control. Simply put the steering wheel’s drive mode selector into Sport Plus, mash the brake, ease onto the throttle until the launch system activates, apply full throttle, and release the brake. The sprint to 60 miles per hour happens in just 4.5 seconds, beating AMG’s 4.7-second claim for the GLC 43. We’re inclined to believe both numbers are conservative – our butt dyno thinks the Porsche might do the deed in 4 seconds flat.
Porsche Active Suspension Management is standard, turning that cushy air suspension into something autocross-ready with the press of a button. Our tester’s optional Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus rear differential sends power to the outside rear tire in corners, completely erasing understeer and improving steering response. Indeed, the Macan GTS boasts exceptional chassis balance, and the sharp, heavy steering feels telepathic in corners without being too twitchy on long, fast straights. Brakes are yet another strong suit: Even without the expensive, optional carbon-ceramic components, the Macan stops straight and sure every time.
Like nearly every Porsche, the Macan GTS is involving and sporty in every situation, yet it doesn’t fatigue the driver with bump steer, turbo lag, or crash-through on bumpy roads. Even driving at a relatively sedate pace, the sporty crossover is still plenty of fun, an unusual phenomenon in a vehicle with such high limits and power numbers.
The Macan GTS comes standard with automatic emergency braking, but lane-keep assistance and adaptive cruise control are optional, and our tester had neither. We also made do without blind spot warning, making lane changes a somewhat unpleasant task given the Macan’s wide D-pillar and chunky rear-seat headrests that impinge on rear visibility. Properly adjusted mirrors and liberal use of the turn signal is a necessity – as it should be with or without advanced safety technology. Speaking of visibility, we also did without a surround-view camera, an unfortunate omission on an $80,000 vehicle.
Working in the Porsche’s favor are supremely bright headlights. It also gets credit for offering full-speed functionality and one of the best driver-assist systems on the market, Porsche InnoDrive.
Fed a steady diet of premium gasoline, the Porsche Macan GTS gets 17 miles per gallon city, 22 highway, and 19 combined. That’s not phenomenal, particularly weighed against the GLC 43’s 21-mpg combined number. The BMW X3 M40i blows them both out of the water, achieving 24 mpg in mixed driving. To the Porsche’s credit, it had no trouble meeting its combined rating in our hands, even with abundant use of the accelerator to stoke that lusty exhaust note.
The 2021 Porsche Macan GTS starts at $72,650 with destination, more than both the GLC and X3 by about $12,000. Our tester was meagerly optioned by P-car standards, ringing in at a total price of $80,270. It was nearly perfectly spec’d for an enthusiast vehicle, with the $1,360 Sport Chrono package and $1,500 Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus rear differential representing the most expensive (and essential) options. Were it our cash, we’d maybe ditch the $690 wireless charger and $540 red seatbelts in favor of the $1,170 adaptive cruise control and $1,380 lane-keep and blind-spot monitoring bundle.
That resultant 82 grand would be a pretty attractive daily driver, particularly given the less exciting GLC 43 we drove awhile back cost $76,450 and had worse interior materials. There’s no denying the premium one must pay for anything with a Porsche badge, but on the other hand, the Macan GTS might be something of a bargain if your lifestyle (or life partner) is forcing you to trade in the 911. Hey, we all have decisions to make.
Porsche Macan GTS Competitor Reviews:
Gallery: 2021 Porsche Macan GTS Review
2020 Porsche Macan GTS