- Beautiful styling
- Excellent performance
- all-weather excitement
- Slight increase in road noise
There are few sports car shapes more iconic than the Porsche 911 and I would argue that there are no more iconic targas than the 911 Targa. It helps that Porsche is one of the few major manufacturers still making things, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is the one who defines the template.
What is a Targa? Not quite a hardtop coupe, not quite a convertible, a Targa tries to split the difference. Whether it’s something like the split T-tops of the ’80s and ’90s or the more comprehensive setup you see here, a Targa has always been a great choice for someone who wanted the feel of open-top driving without all the compromises that a convertible brings to the table.
Mind you, there are still a few trade-offs here. Porsche’s 911 Targa 4 GTS weighs 3,653 pounds, around 200 pounds more than a comparable Carrera 4 GTS, 50 more even than a cabriolet, but it comes with a number of advantages. Maybe most important? The look. The iconic, thick B-pillar roll bar that characterizes this car is as strong as ever on this latest version of the Porsche 911, the 992.
Still there, and still creating some massive blind spots, but harking back to the 1965 911 Targa that started all of this. However, this new Targa is a bit more advanced, with an electric folding mechanism that folds the top down in 19 seconds.
This wide tire blends perfectly with the huge curved glass panel that is the Targa’s other signature element, a panel that is hoisted back by the folding mechanism to allow the fabric portion of the top to tuck into the rear parcel shelf. It’s a dramatic process.
With the top down, the 911 Targa is almost as civilized as a regular 911 Carrera. There’s a bit more road and wind noise, sure, and harsh suspension compressions like parting lines on concrete tend to rattle nerves, but some of that also has to be attributed to the massive 245/35 R 20 front and 305/30 R 21s rear tires on.
With the top down and the windows open, the driving experience is just as good as in a convertible. The wind pattern is a bit different, and if you’re the sort that likes to roll with the top down and windows open, you’ll have to contend with some bangs. But lower the windows a few inches and everything disappears.
Inside, the 911 Targa differs little from a regular 992 Porsche 911. A pair of buttons sit just in front of the central cup holder, one to lower the top and one to raise it. Then there’s a single latch above the rearview mirror that snaps in and out of its own accord. The headliner is just as plush and premium as you’d expect from a coupe, if not quite as nice as the Alcantara-like material that covers the inside of the roll bar.
Pleats run through the center and either side of the headliner where it folds in on itself, functional elements that might as well be design signatures.
But otherwise everything else is the same, almost entirely monotone truffle brown in this example, a chocolate hue that feels great for the ’70s vibe the Targa still carries, aided by the optional 930-style leather stitching pattern. 911 interiors are still simple and spartan, but a clean look in the best sense that has everything where you need it. More and more of the car’s more nuanced functions have been integrated into the PCM’s 10.9-inch touchscreen, but you can still change driving modes, raise the nose, adjust the suspension and toggle the seat heaters with the press of a button.
The controls on the steering wheel are also comprehensive and haven’t (thank god) switched to capacitive touch yet. They provide easy access to the two 7-inch displays mounted on either side of the large central 8,000rpm tachometer with a real needle swinging over real numbers. In the center of the dashboard, the Sport Chrono clock gazes at you, another classic nod.
The car you see here was fitted with Porsche’s 18-way adaptive Sport seats Plus, which are just comfortable enough for long drives and just enough support for sporty ones. Rear seats are actually tolerable for children, as long as they don’t mind sitting bolt upright.
All the details of the interior revolve around the focal point of this 911 Targa, namely the gear stick, which sits almost exactly in the middle of the car. This GTS came with Porsche’s seven-speed manual gearbox. Porsche’s semi-automatic dual-clutch DSG gearbox will always be faster and is certainly nicer in traffic, as I was immediately after picking up this car, but there’s still nothing nicer than shifting gears yourself.
Which transmission you choose is a personal preference and I’m happy to report that you really can’t go wrong. Pick the manual and you’ll be blessed with short shifts that, at least on this near-new car, are stiff. You really have to move that shifter on purpose, but the reward is an incredibly engaging sensation. With seven forward gears, there are plenty of gears to deal with here, but the shift linkage is perfectly timed to ensure you always get to the next gear you want. Automatic speed adjustment helps with smooth engagement.
The roads were terribly icy when I tested the GTS you see here, wet and covered in road dirt at the best of times, but the sure-footedness of Porsche’s all-wheel-drive system meant shedding the 473 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque 3.2-litre twin-turbocharged boxer engines were never a big problem. Sure, the tires would spin a lot and the car would start skidding and skidding multiple times, but Porsche Stability Management always made sure I never had to do more than a small correction to keep me going in the right direction. The gargantuan Michelin winter tires helped too, without detracting from the inherent feel of this car, a feeling enlivened by the optional rear-wheel steering system, which helped hide the Targa’s extra weight.
Acceleration is strong as you can imagine, the GTS offers 94 more horsepower than the base Carrera. Conditions were so bad I never really needed the extra ponies during my time with the car, but it’s always good to know they’re there, and the sport exhaust meant I could hear them all if I wanted to. Or when it was time to drive past the neighbors, the flick of a switch muted the experience.
Likewise, another switch raises the nose to overcome pesky mounds of snow and ice, just a few features that make the 911 a great car for everyday use. Since the Targa loses nothing. The main storage space under the hood is exactly the same as on the coupe. 4.6 cubic feet isn’t a lot by GT standards, but it’s more than enough for a couple of holdalls or TSA-approved carry-ons. Anything beyond that has to fit in the back seats.
Ride quality is on the firm side but compliant when cruising, engaging and sharp if you want to drive the 911 hard. If there’s a flaw here, it’s that the 911 GTS has so much grip, so much confidence that you really have to move to feel like you’re driving the car at all. It’s one of the reasons driving in winter can be so much fun. These limits are lowered to a level where you can approach them without risking your license.
Prices and options
The 911 Targa 4 GTS you see here was pretty well equipped. A base MSRP of $156,800 increased to $181,610 thanks to that Truffle Brown interior ($6,040 plus another $1,490 for the 930 leather package and another $3,030 for the 18-way seats ), $3,760 for the premium package (which includes a better Bose sound system and power folding mirrors). ), $2,090 for the rear steering system, plus a few other bits and pieces, and $1,350 target.
Yes, that’s a lot of money for a sports car, but today’s 911 is so much more. This is a reasonably practical, reasonably comfortable car that will please you every day without tiring you out on the days when you just want to go home. While it’s hard to feel good when Porsche is charging so much for every little option you want, it means you can tilt the 911 in any direction you want. Whatever your choice, you’re going to get something that drives as good as it looks.
To me, the extra weight of the Targa over the Cabriolet is a small price to pay for the extra style that this flavor of 911 exudes. It’s not the choice for purists who want the ultimate handling from their porch, but for those who want to let in a little more light and wind on sunny days, this is the way to go.
img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-419580″ src=”https://www.yankodesign.com/images/design_news/2023/02/auto-draft/2023_Porsche_GTS4-Targa_Review_yankodesign_41.jpg” alt=”” width =”1280″ Height=”853″ />