Ma­can’s mean streak

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typ­i­cal Porsche with a plethora of but­tons and di­als, many du­pli­cated on the touch­screen.

The driv­ing po­si­tion is close to ideal: a small steer­ing wheel, grippy and well-bol­stered seats and ped­als that need lit­tle provo­ca­tion to elicit a re­sponse.

The GTS’s heart is a twin­turbo V6 (265kW/500Nm). Fed through a seven-speed du­al­clutch trans­mis­sion and all­wheel drive, that equates to a 5.2-sec­ond sprint to triple fig­ures. Most of the propul­sion is fun­nelled to the 20-inch rear wheels shod with Pirelli rub­ber.

At $109,500 plus on-roads the GTS isn’t cheap … but it is a bar­gain in per­for­mance terms and noth­ing else in its class or price range matches it for size and sheer cor­ner­ing speed.

Drop an ex­tra $2690 on the Chrono Pack and you’ll get a per­for­mance boost — the Sports Plus ve­hi­cle set­ting that sets the driv­e­train and chas­sis to race-like re­spon­sive­ness. You may never use it but you will point out the ex­tra switch out to friends and fam­ily, guar­an­teed.

ON THE ROAD

Com­fort is the de­fault set­ting for the GTS sus­pen­sion and it soft­ens the dampers to the point where the Ma­can only mildly jos­tles the oc­cu­pants over pock­marked country tar­mac.

Step it up into Sport — the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of any Porsche — and the sus­pen­sion faith­fully fol­lows ev­ery un­du­la­tion and scabbed-over pot­hole. Those in the back feel it most, ap­par­ently.

You don’t buy a Ma­can as a sports car: that’s the bonus. As a city run­about the Ma­can is re­al­is­ti­cally a four-seater.

Boot space at 500L is prac­ti­cal for week­end get­aways or car­ry­ing kids’ para­pher­na­lia.

So you can dod­dle around the ’burbs all week and then ex­ploit the Ma­can’s mean streak with an in­ter­est­ing route to the golf club on the week­end.

It takes a while to ac­quaint your­self with the ar­ray of but­tons that festoon the cen­tre dash and con­sole. Those that ad­just the per­for­mance of the ve­hi­cle are found along­side the trans­mis­sion lever but the switchgear ex­tends to the roof.

The tri-zone air­con takes lit­tle time to do its thing, the new in­fo­tain­ment setup is now on a par with mod­ern of­fer­ings from other Euro­pean and Asian mak­ers and the au­dio was highly rated by my teenagers.

VER­DICT

It is ei­ther a se­ri­ously quick SUV or a very ac­com­mo­dat­ing sports car. Think of it as a qual­ity blended whisky rather than a sin­gle malt.

IF THE Ma­can is the mean­est com­pact SUV around then the new GTS vari­ant is the point man. De­pend­ing on the mood and driv­ing mode, this car can cam­ou­flage it­self among the SUV shop­ping crowd or blast its way to the front of the pack.

It is — ex­cuse the oxy­moron — a driver-fo­cused SUV. That’s pre­cisely what should hap­pen when a sports car com­pany builds a com­pact cross­over, even if the re­sult is slightly com­pro­mised in both roles.

The Ma­can’s rear space isn’t nearly as gen­er­ous as on the sim­i­larly sized Audi Q5. As a sports car, it lacks the low cen­tre of grav­ity that makes other Porsches so much fun to fling around cor­ners.

Still the GTS does a more than cred­i­ble job, to the point where it will shame many sedans through the twisties. Porsche has trimmed 15mm off the ride height and fit­ted adap­tive dampers to help keep the nearly two-tonne mass flat and fluid through the turns.

Help­ing tame mo­men­tum are brakes bor­rowed from the Ma­can Turbo. The in­te­rior is

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