The Gran Turismo Sport is the quickest, most powerful and most expensive iteration of the Macan. We find out the details while driving down to Goa.
Not often does one get an opportunity to drive a Porsche, let alone set off on a road trip in one. So when we were invited to participate in India’s longest car relay with the Porsche Macan GTS – for the first leg from Mumbai to Goa of a 10,000km interstate voyage across the country – we confirmed our participation in a heartbeat.
The Macan nameplate has been around since 2014, but the car in question is the updated version that made its debut in 2021. Besides being the most affordable Porsche starting at Rs 83 lakh (ex-showroom), it is also the company’s bestselling model in India, having made a stellar reputation for its extraordinary handling despite retaining the practicality of a high-riding crossover. For our drive to Goa, we had the range-topping, most powerful and most expensive GTS or Gran Turismo Sport iteration, which we’d take through the picturesque National Highway 66 (NH66).
Manolito Vujicic, brand director, Porsche India, flagged off the drive.
Our drive was flagged off from Porsche India’s head office in Mumbai by Manolito Vujicic, brand director, Porsche India. However, the timing couldn’t have been worse. As we crawled outside the corporate park premise, we found ourselves buried deep into the thick of Mumbai’s peak hour traffic, which left me with plenty of time to get acquainted with the Macan and fiddle with the interior.
As we navigated through traffic, immediately evident was the Macan’s sheer size. Even though this crossover appears deceivingly compact due to its short height, it is pretty large by Indian road standards. To put its size into perspective, it is both longer and wider than a Mahindra XUV700, and it even gets a longer wheelbase – it is based on the Audi Q5, after all. Since it is heavily re-engineered by the boffins at Stuttgart, you’d be hard-pressed to strike similarities with its cousin from Ingolstadt. And did I mention that the Python Green paint, which is a Rs 5 lakh option, made the Macan GTS an attention magnet?
Porsche Macan GTS: interiors, space and features
Large tacho is flanked by analogue speedo and screen displaying useful info.
What I absolutely loved was the placement of the large analogue tachometer, which sat directly in my field of vision. Flanking the tachometer are an analogue speedometer on one side and a handy screen displaying navigation, tyre pressure and other useful data. The optional 18-way electric front seats offer plenty of adjustments for side bolstering, lumbar and extendable thigh support to get comfortable. The seat cushioning, however, felt a bit too firm for touring.
Optional 18-way electric front seats; cushioning is a bit firm for touring.
In this facelifted guise, the gear console is flooded with a plethora of touch-operable backlit keys, giving a haptic feedback on ‘click’, although you’ll still need to take your eyes off the road to locate them. Thankfully, functions for climate control like temperature and fan speed are proper, tactile toggle switches that are a breeze to operate on the move.
Also nice is the touchscreen that’s slick and responsive, and more importantly, it gets a physical volume knob. Moments into the journey, I learned that Android Auto isn’t a part of the package, which gave my colleague Mrityunjay (cameraperson) the opportunity to connect his iPhone via Apple CarPlay and bang out latest Punjabi tunes through the crisp and clear Bose speakers (which are optional).
Optional panoramic sunroof helps in brightening the all-black cabin.
What deserves a special mention is the optional, high-definition 360-degree camera, which is one of the sharpest, clearest displays; and it came very handy, particularly because visibility isn’t something to write home about.
Ashley (photographer), on the other hand, who isn’t very tall at 5 feet 7 inches, had tucked himself in the rear seat. Anyone taller will find this area rather cramped, especially when you take its exterior dimensions into account. The panoramic sunroof is a Rs 3.43 lakh option, however, it is highly recommended as it plays its part in brightening the otherwise gloomy ambience of the all-black cabin.
Porsche Macan GTS: engine and performance
As we breached city limits, the roads opened up and traffic thinned out, which gave me the first taste of the Macan’s power delivery, and boy oh boy, this Porsche moved, and how! The 440hp, 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine can be best described as ‘explosive’, and it catapults the car to silly speeds sooner than you can imagine. Throttle responses are crisp and with a dual-clutch automatic transmission that’s always on-guard, performance feels potent.
Power delivery from twin-turbo V6 is explosive, and it sounds incredible.
The V6 pulls relentlessly and freely to its 6,800rpm redline, emitting an addictive growl that’s followed by exhaust snorts on upshifts, and occasional pops and crackles when you lift off. And you can’t appreciate the fantastic 7-speed PDK enough – it is one of the quickest transmissions out there. This automatic is always in the right gear and it also predicts your next step, leaving you with almost no delay when you pin down the throttle.
Porsche Macan GTS: ride and handling
Air suspension feels surprisingly compliant over bad patches.
The NH66 isn’t in the best of shapes, with several under-developed sections with broken patches and some treacherous sections. The Macan’s optional air suspension surprised us by soaking it all in its stride. And with a reassuring 177mm ground clearance (normal ride height), I didn’t have to squinch my butt muscles and brace for an impact on the underbody at the sight of tall speed breakers or deep potholes.
Sport Mode brings the best out of the Macan; Sport Plus is simply too stiff.
Of course, because it wears 21-inch wheels, you need to slow down and tackle bad patches with caution, to prevent tyre or wheel damage. And this brings me to the brakes, which do a fantastic job of shedding speed on this 2-ton crossover, with a well-judged pedal feel and ample bite.
The last 150km stretch from Kankavali to Goa on NH66 is a dream run for driving enthusiasts. The freshly laid out wide-open roads, clear visibility and light traffic, permitted me to open the taps of the twin-turbo V6, push the Macan to its limits, and exploit its deft handling manners. The Sport mode is truly rewarding, and suits the Macan’s persona really well, with perfectly judged stiffness and sharp responsiveness.
The last 150km from Kankavali to Goa on the NH66 is a dream to drive.
The steering’s pin-sharp accuracy and the immense grip from its all-wheel-drive system infuse huge confidence while attacking fast corners. The Macan feels glued to the road like it is driving on rails. Incredibly, the car wraps itself around you, and with body roll well in check, you often forget you’re behind the wheel of a high-riding crossover; the Macan is that good.
Optional GTS Sport pack costs Rs 22 lakh for performance and cosmetic bits.
Sport Plus mode, on the other hand, makes the air suspension a bit too stiff, and the car tends to feel skittish over mid-corner bumps, forcing you to dial it down to Sport. And in this mode, it beautifully balances sportiness and ride comfort for a confidence-inspiring enthusiastic drive.
Porsche Macan GTS: price and verdict
Over the course of this 700-kilometre road trip, we’ve established that the Macan is exceptionally fun to drive and is pretty practical too. But now, let’s address the elephant in the room – its pricing. While the Macan range starts at Rs 83 lakh (ex-showroom), the GTS costs a whopping Rs 1.47 crore and that is before you tick some of the options. Our test car wore an eye-watering price tag of Rs 1.84 crore, not including insurance, registration and road tax, making it a rather steep ask from Porsche.
It isn’t the right fit for buyers looking for value, and certainly not for those in the market for an SUV to make a statement. However, for driving enthusiasts looking for that one car that does it all – daily driving as well as ballistic performance with touring capabilities – the Macan builds a case for itself. Of course, you will save truckloads of money by opting for the ‘standard’ Macan, which will tug at your heartstrings, but if you get a chance to drive the Macan GTS, it’ll simply walk away with your heart.