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Slick looks, open-top fun and 911 handling sound brilliant, but the Targa has historically trailed the Coupé. How does the new model fare on UK roads?
Autocar
27 April 2016

What is it?

In recent years, the Porsche 911 Targa has never quite been held in the same high regard as the lighter, cheaper 911 Coupé. The mysterious lack of the Carrera name – officially present on the Cabriolet and Coupé models but missing on the Targa – and the fact that the Targa isn’t offered with rear-wheel drive in the UK, even seems to suggest that Porsche itself see this variant as a touch more lifestyle purchase than sporting substance.

However, with the new turbocharged engines now at the heart of the range, it seems this may be the best opportunity that the Targa has to redeem itself. After all, it’d be fair to expect the low-down torque to conceal the extra 90kg it weighs (over the Coupé) better than before, although the circa £9k premium it commands still stings a bit, and handling has always been the bigger bone of contention with the Targa, rather than its performance.

Regardless, the appeal of the Targa is writ large in its retro-fantastic looks, and you’d have to be pretty lifeless to not enjoy a 911 with the roof off. This being our first go in the new 911 Targa 4S in the UK, it’s the perfect opportunity to find out if it’s upped its game. 

What's it like?

It’s unlikely that anybody would be disappointed. To say that this doesn’t handle quite as well as the Coupé, or even to a lesser extent, the Cabriolet, is a bit like saying that Michaelangelo’s David isn’t quite as impressive as his job on the Sistine Chapel, but it’s true nonetheless.

Get the weight on the nose, and the Targa 4S turns in with fluid precision before hunkering down and booting you out of the corner with prodigious grip levels. For all the much-debated foibles of the electrically-assisted steering, its weighting and fair sense of connection still leaves you in no doubt as to what’s going on between tyre and Tarmac. Despite not having the optionally available rear-wheel steer or active anti-roll bars, the Targa feels keyed in and worthy of the 911 badge.

For all that – and in part because of the lack of those extras – it does feel more inclined to understeer and a touch sloppier through corners, falling short of the incisive precision of the Coupé.

The ride is well judged, though. That extra weight hasn’t corrupted it, and while it’s still a firmly sprung car that delivers the inevitable short-travel bobbing and bucking over scruffy surfaces inherent in that, its damping takes the sting out of all but the worst ruts and leaves you generally unflustered.

Performance remains of a senior supercar level, too. The official 0-62mph time of 4.0sec (when fitted with Sport Chrono and switchable modes) is 0.2sec behind the hard-top C4S, but predictably the 3.0-litre turbo’d engine still has the low-down urgency and long-revving potential that makes the performance so accessible and fun, if - we'll say it again - not quite as good as the naturally aspirated engine it replaces. The seven-speed PDK gearbox fitted to our car is also as rapid-fire precise as ever.

The interior of the Targa is the same as that in other 911s, meaning you get an immaculate finish, mostly logical switchgear layout, the new 7.0in colour touchscreen and two cripplingly uncomfortable seats in the back for people that are better reserved for bags.

Back to top

Drop the roof, which has to be done when you’re stationary and with plenty of space behind to allow for the sizable rear section to lift and extend backwards, and you’re well protected from buffeting even at higher speeds. With the roof up, refinement is also virtually on a par with the Coupé.

Should I buy one?

Well, if you wanted the fresh air factor then we'd say that the identically priced and – oddly – slightly sharper handling Cabriolet is a better bet. Or, the much cheaper Coupé remains our 911 of choice in any other situation. Which leaves the Targa still trailing in the 911 stakes. Sure, if you love the looks and the open-top lifestyle, the Targa will make you tingle in all the right ways. Even so, it'd be our last choice of 911. 

Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK

Location: Surrey; On sale: Now; Price £102,072; Engine 6 cyls horizontally opposed, 2981cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power 414bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 369lb ft at 1700-5000rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1675kg; Top speed 187mph; 0-62mph 4.0sec; Economy 35.3mpg; CO2 rating & BIK tax band 184g/km / 33%

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Comments
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david RS 4 May 2016

RIP 911...

RIP 911...
madmac 27 April 2016

It is ridiculously overpriced

It is ridiculously overpriced.You could buy a new TTRS Coupe and roadster for that money,and both are faster than this,coupe especially would even easily dispatch a 4S coupe.
NoPasaran 27 April 2016

They drive differently, TTRS

They drive differently, TTRS and 911, they feel different behind the wheel. Straight line speed...who cares about straight line speed?! I have 997T now, I had tuned TTRS (manual, coupe), tell you what, 997T steers so much better than TTRS it's not comparable, and that is not even the best steering/handling 911! TTRS is a very nice road car, but then I also consider the manual E86 Z4 Coupe that I have a very nice road car.
The 911/Cayman/Boxster are high priced and lose value quite fast in the beginning, I admit (except for GT4, GT3 maybe). Personally, I would never buy a new Porsche (unless I wanted a particular color, I guess), the one-two-year used ones with very low mileage cost 30-40k less.
TBC 28 April 2016

Cost

Out of curiousity, what would it cost to have a 911 resprayed?
275not599 28 April 2016

A lot more than having it

A lot more than having it wrapped, and when you feel like a change, have it peeled off and have it rewrapped in a different look. Gold? Chrome? Matte black? Techno pink? Amaze your friends!
5wheels 27 April 2016

look twice

actually a picture flashed through my mind of an Renault Alpine - which was a beauty in its own right - the similarity is there on the front quarter pic