There’s no exhaust legerdemain in the Macan GTS, according to Porsche. It’s au naturel on the way out, and only mildly amplified in the cabin (not created) on the way in. An active exhaust button on the center console (one of 39 buttons, mind you) toggles the deep runoff crackles’ volume between 10 and 11.
Inside, the GTS is shod with Alcantara seats and Rhodium Silver (elegant) or Carmine Red (awesome) contrast stitching and seat belts. Porsche can even throw in a Carmine Red center tach if you need all the red. For at least $1,100 more, you can upgrade the seats with more power adjustments and deeper leather, but we say skip it: Our base thrones felt snug enough, and it was easy to find a comfortable driving position.
Interior materials are typically Porsche: rich, supple, and expensive. Its passenger packaging is just as tight as other Macan models, and the small SUV may be better considered as a four-seater with only enough back seat room for children (sans car seats) or mid-size adults who don’t need a lot of head room. There’s just no escaping that sloping roofline.
The Macan GTS’s playground for our drive is Colorado’s world-famous Pikes Peak; a 12.42-mile, 156-turn masterpiece known more outside the U.S. than along the Front Range. Each year, the mountain hosts a race up to its 14,114-foot summit, which Porsche driver and World’s Most Interesting Man-candidate Jeff Zwart has won multiple times in different classifications. Thankfully, he’s our figurative Sherpa for the morning run.
The way to use the Macan GTS, according to Zwart, is to consider it to be a sports car. Its power peaks, rather than plateaus like in the Macan S. It’s best to gun and run, find another gear, and mash the accelerator some more. Our 6 a.m. run up Pikes Peak follows Zwart and his racing line that darts between permafrost imperfections in the road, and runs inches close to deep snowpack that’s been carved out in early June. The speed limit up the mountain is a predictably sane 20 mph, which we religiously adhere to—even on the racing line. (Motor Authority’s legal department can stop reading here, thank you.)
According to Porsche, the Macan GTS’s all-wheel-drive system is heavily rear-biased, but it’s hard to tell: The engine is pushed so far forward in the Macan that the front tires are more likely to push into understeer than the rears are to rotate in oversteer. It’s possible to break loose the rear end, especially in successive hairpins up Pikes Peak, but it’s not the fastest way up the mountain, nor does it feel all that satisfactory.
Instead, the Macan GTS is best when its rigid and capable chassis is pressed into duty. Despite weighing 66 pounds more than the Macan S, the GTS handles its weight with aplomb and settles back to neutral quickly, eager for its next command. Drivers will find that even with the deep front buckets, they’re sitting on top of the SUV’s center of mass (not in the middle of it) and the steering is a little too light to relay meaningful information. Regardless, the Macan GTS makes clear in its body talk when it’s done transferring weight and the all-season Michelin Latitude rubbers, which are standard equipment, are eager accomplices in attacking more twisty roads.
A word on grip: The GTS has more mechanical grip than I have courage on mountain road with sheer drops. If you’re wondering why I didn’t drift Brown Bush Corner, look up “Evo Falls Off Pikes Peak.”