Targa 4 combines real practicality with serious performance and the pleasure of (largely) open-air motoring. Quite possibly the pick of the range.

What is it?

Much is made of the Porsche 911’s reputation as the consummate everyday sports car. However, if you’re after the most multi-talented 911 in the range, you need to choose wisely. The new 911 Turbo, for instance, will barely do 200 miles between visits to the petrol pump, while the new GT3’s Carrera GT bucket seats means it is trickier to get into than South Korea’s antisocial northerly neighbour.

Let’s assume that you want a 911 that’s surprisingly practical, comfortable, safe, pleasing to look at and to be in, as well as characteristically wonderful to drive. Porsche may just have launched the model for you – the 997 Targa 4.

What's it like?

Porsche reasons that if you’d rather have a hard-top 911 Targa than a soft-top 911 cabrio for safety reasons, you might well also prefer the security of four driven wheels to two. That’s why the 997 Targa is only available as the wider-bodied 321bhp Targa 4 or the 350bhp Targa 4S.

Like the 996 and 993 Targa, this new car continues with a sliding glass roof that motors back behind the driver’s head and convincingly transforms a closed but airy driving experience into a sheltered, semi-open one.

It offers much more than a posh sunroof though; the new Targa’s got softer spring rates than the coupe, a more generous helping of leather in the cabin, a better tally of standard equipment, more storage space behind the front seats and a glass panel that opens like a hatchback above that rear storage are, and allows you to load things into the space behind the front seats from the kerb, rather than through the driver's door.

Believe it or not, this 911 can accommodate 335 litres of cargo – almost as much as you’ll squeeze behind the rear seats of a Ford Focus – and it does so more easily than any other 911 in the range.

Should I buy one?

The new Targa 4 makes a very talented GT. It rides with more quiet compliance than any 911, and yet sacrifices almost none of the 997 coupe’s body control.

Over the most rutted asphalt we could find, a slight shaking of the roof structure betrayed the fact that this car, though torsionally stiffer than a 997 cabrio, is still only half as stiff as the coupe. On most roads, however, this 911 cruises with amazing refinement and yet it still has the wherewithal to entertain you superbly when prompted.

The Targa 4 might therefore be all the 911 you ever want; not the fastest or the most visceral, but certainly the most complete car in a very impressive bunch.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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