► Porsche's latest Targa driven in the UK
► Over 100kg heavier than a regular 4S
► Still manages a 3.6sec 0-62mph sprint...
Porsche's Targa variant turns 55 this year and, now more than ever, it seems to make no sense. On paper, it combines all the drawbacks of a Cabriolet and a Coupe, yet the Targa –– named after the world-renowned Targa Florio race – is arguably the most desirable non-GT 911 you can buy. So, what gives?
What's it for?
Originally designed to be a safer version of the Cabriolet, the first Targa featured a manually removable roof and a roll-hoop to protect occupants in the event of a crash. It was cutting-edge for 1965 and provided real benefits over a traditional open-top.
Now Cabriolets are much safer, and the 992-based Targa's iconic roll-hoop is now a skeuomorphic flourish, there in part for chassis stiffness – but mainly for looks. Still, the roof disappears in 19 seconds, and the engineering required to make it happen is impressive.
How fast is it?
Like the standard 4S, the Targa 4S produces 443bhp from a six-cylinder, three-litre boxer engine with twin turbochargers, and puts it to the road via an eight-speed PDK and Stuttgart's refined all-wheel-drive system. As in the vanilla 4S, Porsche's four-wheel system is a non-intrusive wonder, quietly diverting power between the axles for the perfect blend of grip and driver engagement.
The result is a chassis that happily applies every single horse to tarmac; it's planted but informative in the twisty bits, urging you to tighten your line and chase the throttle. It's ever-so-slightly softer than the standard 4S, with a hint of roll and a smidge less poise – but that's the price you pay for adding a 110kg greenhouse to an already refined sports car.
The weight of that optional viewing deck means the Targa 4S falls behind stats-wise: it hits 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, 0.2 slower than the standard 4S, and its top speed of 189mph is 1mph behind than the standard version. It's fast but still slower than a tin-top 911 4S, which starts at £10,000 less.
Porsche 911 Targa 4S: verdict
Yet none of this really matters when you're driving – this Porsche isn't built for ultimate speed, as much as general enjoyment. The Targa's wraparound rear screen and roll-hoop envelop driver and passenger in a glass cocoon, along with all the tech of the new 911's interior – yet keep you just as connected to the road as a Cabriolet.
Unlike the more driver-focused GT models or the 4S, the Targa's PDK system and all-wheel-drive do the intensive bits for you, nailing gear changes and searching for grip. And its glass capsule brings just enough of the outside in.
While the Targa 4S is a 911 and still relentlessly quick, it's one that places the experience of driving above ultimate pace.
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