Porsche has drawn a lot of attention lately for its electric-vehicle efforts, namely for the Taycan sedan that’s currently on sale, but also for the upcoming electric version of its Macan small SUV. Just recently, we spied development mules of the upcoming Macan EV in Germany, indicating that it appears to be on track for an introduction in 2023. But what about the rest of the Macan lineup? Proof that the company hasn’t neglected the gas-engine models came recently when we traveled to Stuttgart to drive a prototype version of the facelifted 2022 Macan, which will be the current model’s seventh year of production.
For most automakers, seven years would represent a vehicle’s full generation and signal that it’s high time to introduce a successor. Porsche, however, has once again reworked the existing, 10Best-winning Macan—the last was for the 2019 model year—updating it with a freshened styling, a revised interior, and a series of tweaks to its conventional powertrains. The number of models within the lineup also has been reduced. When sales begin in the United States later this summer, there will be three models: Macan, Macan S, and Macan GTS. The Macan Turbo has been dropped from the lineup, replaced in part by the upgraded GTS.
The latest Macan’s exterior changes are rather mild. Up front, there are new bumpers across the range, and the accent panels on the lower part of the doors have gained a new texture. At the rear, there is a new bumper with a more prominent diffuser. There is also a revised range of wheels, including the 21-inch RS-design units on the GTS prototype we drove.
The changes to the interior are similarly modest, although they do make for a more pleasant driving environment. We weren’t allowed to photograph any of it in detail, but there’s a shortened gear selector, a new multifunction steering wheel, a new digital instrument cluster, and an updated center touchscreen. The Macan GTS adds a GT sports steering wheel from the 911 along with sport seats and various Alcantara trim pieces.
The new GTS will provide similar performance to the outgoing Turbo. Under the GTS’s hood is the Turbo’s twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6—rated for 434 horses and 406 pound-feet of torque—and should propel the SUV to 60 mph in a similar 3.5 seconds. The 375-hp version of the 2.9-liter that previously powered the GTS now calls the Macan S home. In the base model, the 2.0-liter turbo-four’s output is bumped up to 261 horsepower and 295 pound-feet, gains of 13 and 22, respectively.
The prototype GTS certainly benefits from the Turbo’s heart transplant with greater low-end grunt and a stronger pull through its midrange, although it remains willing to spin to its 6800-rpm redline. Those who considered the Macan Turbo a little lacking in drama will definitely prefer the new GTS and its raspier exhaust note, which can easily be toned down for subdued cruising. This broad flexibility is bolstered by the continued fitment of Porsche’s responsive and almost clairvoyant seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
But what really sets the GTS apart is its handling, which feels sharper and more composed than before. Few, if any, SUVs stand out for their dynamic qualities, but this one definitely does. Porsche has done a lot of detailed work here, including revisions to the adaptive dampers and air springs, which are 10 percent stiffer in front and 15 percent firmer at the rear. The prototype we drove also was fitted with sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa summer tires, sized 265/40R-21 up front and 295/35R-21 in back.
On the road, the GTS’s crisp steering feels nicely weighted and probably more involving than you’ll find in any other SUV. Aided by standard all-wheel drive and an optional torque-vectoring rear axle, our prototype exhibited exceptional poise and agility in corners, as well as large amounts of grip. As before, ride quality is adequately compliant in the suspension’s default Comfort mode but quite firm in Sport—almost too firm over poorly maintained surfaces. Still, there’s excellent wheel control over bumps, and the ride never feels unbearably harsh.
There’s a welcome familiarity to the revised Macan, but you can also sense the improvements. There’s a more purposeful look to the exterior, and the detailed interior changes give a more contemporary feel if no more stretch-out space, which we’ve always described as intimate.
It’s the Macan GTS’s driving experience that will win over prospective buyers more than anything else. Yes, this was a prototype and our drive time was limited to mostly traveling in a convoy with Porsche’s development team. But it was quickly obvious that the GTS continues to deliver a level of driver engagement that you won’t get in a BMW X3 M or a Mercedes-AMG GLC63. Expect pricing for the updated GTS to fall somewhere between the 2021 model’s $73,450 entry point and that of the $85,950 Turbo. While Porsche’s updates haven’t resulted in a revolutionary driving experience, they should be more than sufficient to keep the Macan GTS a highly compelling performance SUV until an electric version shakes up the lineup.
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