If there was ever a shred of doubt that the Porsche Macan was a 911 masquerading as an SUV, one 12.42-mile blast up and through the 156 unguarded turns to the top of Pikes Peak (14,115 feet above sanity level) in the 2017 Porsche Macan GTS is guaranteed to shred that shred.

For those not into motorsports, just think of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb as the World Series of on-road hill-climb racing (that is, if the starting pitchers needed oxygen when the game was over to keep from passing out). A few weeks prior to the 100th-anniversary running of the legendary event, Porsche was brilliant enough to invite us to shake out the new Macan GTS models to the top of Pikes Peak and Mount Evans (14,264 feet), the highest paved road in North America.

To lead us up Pikes Peak at a pretty competitive pace, Porsche chose Jeff Zwart, longtime Porsche filmmaker and superstar car photographer, and 8-time Class Champion at Pikes Peak. If you don't know Zwart, close your eyes and think of your favorite Porsche TV commercial ever -- he probably conceived and directed it. With a team of Macan GTS models liveried in graphics from his Pikes Peak racecars of different eras, Zwart whipped us to the top in his 911 GT2.

What we learned on the mountain

As we've expressed before, the Porsche Macan is a good SUV and a great sports car. The 2017 Macan GTS is an extension of that, starting with a hotted-up variant of the Macan S's 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. In GTS guise, the Macan engine routes 360 horsepower and a gutsy 369 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via Porsche's sweet, snap-quick/clean-shifting 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission (trust us, you want one).

The rest of the Macan GTS outfitting also leans into the sport rather than the utility of the SUV, an effect that begins with the mass of black exterior trim accents. Beneath the surface, massive front brakes with red calipers are tucked inside RS Spyder Design 20-inch wheels and wide, low-profile tires (265/45 R 20 in front, 295/45 R 20 at the rear) -- even the standard top-line Macan Turbo can't boast that footprint.

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A blend of comfort and sport

An adjustable air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management lets you set the Macan GTS to race or relax, as 12 complaint-free hours on the road taught us. In the heat of battle, the Macan GTS is fully in its element. The Porsche Stability Management System has been dialed back to let you play harder, and there's a rear-bias to the all-wheel-drive. On every surface, only small steering corrections are needed to bring the Macan back to equilibrium.

Inside, the Macan GTS's well-appointed interior fits like a leather glove, and the controls take all of two minutes to get used to. If you want to step up, a king's ransom of interior upgrades is available, including the GTS interior package that includes a "Carmine Red" tachometer, contrast stitching, and headrests embroidered with "GTS" logos.

What all this adds up to is a $68,250 small luxury SUV that doubles down on its Stuttgart roots while never forgetting what it really wants to be: the quickest, most nimble SUV on the planet.

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