Porsche has de­fied the scep­tics – and sev­eral of the laws of physics – with an SUV that re­ally does han­dle and per­form like a hot hatch


PUT SIM­PLY, THE MA­CAN turns the SUV rules of en­gage­ment on their head. Up un­til now, most have been so dy­nam­i­cally com­pro­mised, Porsche’s larger Cayenne in­cluded, that a drive in one caused your heart to sink faster than the fuel gauge in an AMG G63. Not the Ma­can, and par­tic­u­larly not in GTS guise.

It all starts with the driv­ing po­si­tion, which de­spite the raised ride height gives the sense that you’re hun­kered low in the car, help­ing cre­ate an im­pres­sion of an in­stant con­nec­tion with the tar­mac. Then there’s the steer­ing, which has more than a hint of the weight and re­sponse of a 911 or Boxster. There’s plenty of bite on turn-in, too, the Ma­can lock­ing tena­ciously onto your cho­sen line and cling­ing on gamely all the way to the exit. Four-wheel drive means there’s lots of trac­tion to fire you up the next straight, yet the rear­biased set-up de­liv­ers sur­pris­ing ad­justa­bil­ity, par­tic­u­larly when the sur­face is slip­pery – out of slower corners you can even in­dulge in some bouts of sub­tle over­steer show­boat­ing.

Yet it’s the Ma­can’s body con­trol that re­ally has you scratch­ing your head at the physics­de­fy­ing magic that Porsche has weaved into the springs and stan­dard adap­tive dampers. In its sporti­est set­ting, the GTS feels taut and com­posed, re­sist­ing roll in a way noth­ing this tall – or heavy – should be able to. Sharp crests and com­pres­sions are shrugged off with dis­dain, while mid-cor­ner bumps are steam­rollered into sub­mis­sion. No, it’s not del­i­cate or even that in­volv­ing, but there’s a cu­ri­ous sat­is­fac­tion to be had from driv­ing a 1895kg SUV that’ll dust most hot hatches on a test­ing B-road.

The Ma­can can live with these pocket rock­ets on the straights, too, its tur­bocharged 355bhp 3-litre V6 al­low­ing it to cover the 0-100kmph sprint in just 5.2 sec­onds. Granted it’s not the most charis­matic-sound­ing en­gine, even with the added crackle of the op­tional sports ex­haust, but the com­bi­na­tion of 500Nm of torque from just 1650rpm and the ef­fort­lessly quick and smooth eight-speed PDK trans­mis­sion mean it can cover ground alarm­ingly quickly. It’s only when slow­ing down that the Ma­can’s mass re­ally starts to tell. The stan­dard iron-disc set-up is pow­er­ful and ben­e­fits from a beau­ti­fully weighted and pro­gres­sive pedal ac­tion, but the strain shows af­ter re­peated stops.

Driven with a lit­tle more re­straint, the Porsche slips eas­ily into your daily rou­tine. It’s com­fort­able and re­fined, with an in­te­rior that’s spa­cious and exquisitel­y fin­ished. In this con­text it’s not hard to fathom the cur­rent fash­ion for SUVs. Ul­ti­mately, at evo we’ll al­ways plump for a fast es­tate if per­for­mance and prac­ti­cal­ity are what’s re­quired, but if only an SUV will do, the Ma­can GTS is re­ally the only op­tion if you still want to en­joy the drive.

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