Porsche 911 Targa 4S (2016) review

Published:02 September 2016

2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

► Targa gets new turbocharged engine
► Flagship S model has more power, 414bhp total
► Looks the part, but it’s not cheap at £99k+

Another new 911? Well, Porsche embarked on a ‘991.2’ update across the core models in the 911 range in 2015, including those controversial new downsized turbocharged engines – and now it’s the flip-top Targa’s turn.

Both of the new 3.0-litre turbo lumps are available for the Targa; the regular Targa 4 model gets the base engine with 365bhp, and the top Targa 4S version tested here the full 414bhp monte.

You can read more about the regular non-S Targa 4 in Chris Chilton’s review here. The ‘4’ in both models’ names, of course, signifies all-wheel drive – which is currently all the 911 Targa is offered with.

Cor. That’s some roof

Isn’t it? That glass/fabric/metal lid does some amazing acrobatics as it raises and lowers. Just remember that the glass screen and engine cover combo actually travels beyond the end of the car while the roof’s transforming, so best not to operate it while your parked too close to a wall – or you might not look or feel quite so smart.

Slightly frustratingly, you can’t operate the roof unless you’re stationary. A bit annoying if it starts raining, or the lights turn green mid-conversion.

What does that new turbocharged engine feel like on the road?

Firstly, it doesn’t actually feel particularly turbocharged. A wide torque curve does a great job of disguising much of the turbo lag, and if you were to tell your passenger it was naturally aspirated they’d probably believe you.

Unlike the previous car’s naturally aspirated engine, the volume dies away as the revs climb – rather than shrieking to a crescendo. It still sounds great, but a bit like its breathing through a scarf. An optional sports exhaust can help it almost hit the high notes it used to.

It’s certainly quick, and in many ways the extra shove available makes the new powerplant less hard work to drive than the previous 911’s torque-poor but rich-sounding engine – but perhaps a touch less satisfying, too.

Which gearbox? Paddles, or row your own?

Porsche’s recently much-improved seven-speed manual gearbox is standard, but our test car was fitted with the PDK gearbox, which can change gear faster than you can say ‘doppelkupplug.’ Actually, quicker than you can say ‘do-’ – it really is swift, and eager to serve up the right ratio when you call for it.

What else is new for the 991.2 Targa, apart from a pair of turbos?

Some tiny styling tweaks, the easiest to spot being ever-so-slightly different headlights, tail lights and engine cover slats. Spec the Sport Chrono pack and the driving mode switches (for Sport and Sport + settings) migrate from the transmission tunnel to a rather functional click-wheel control on the wheel. It’s not particularly elegant, but it works well.

There’s a new touchscreen interface with more intuitive pinch ’n’ swipe ’n’ scribe controls, Google maps and Apple CarPlay.

Porsche continues to perfect the 911’s electric power steering, too. It felt a little numb when it first appeared on the 991, but it’s been carefully tuned since to become very good indeed, direct and full of feel.

Anything else I need to know about the 911 Targa?

Like all awd 911s, the body is wider than the regular rear-drive Carrera and there’s all the traction you could desire – but it’s still involving to drive. And the ride quality is amazing.

Unlike most convertibles, there is something approaching actual rear visibility through the goldfish-bowl rear screen. But there’s no getting away from it, with the roof down, there is a huge amount of wind noise, more so than you’d find in a regular 911 Cabriolet.

Verdict

Is the 414bhp, £99k Targa 4S worth the price premium over the 365bhp non-S Targa? Arguably not; the less powerful car would still feel seriously quick, and similarly agile. And this particular 911 variant is as much about posing as driving, after all.

Is it worth the premium over the regular 911 Cabriolet? In the style stakes, certainly, but the Cabrio is actually far more refined than the Targa, with a clever wind break in place of that glass screen. It’s also lighter, with a lower centre of gravity, though that’s unlikely to be a deal breaker for most buyers.

Regardless, the Targa has lost very little character or drivability in the transition to turbo power, and has gained better steering and infotainment in the process. If you can stomach the Everest-steep asking price, you’re unlikely to feel disappointed.

Read more Porsche reviews

Specs

Price when new: £99,684
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 2981cc twin-turbo 24v flat-six, 414bhp @ 6500rpm, 369lb ft @ 1700rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed PDK, all-wheel drive
Performance: 4.4sec 0-62mph, 188mph, 31.4mpg, 208g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1655kg/aluminium, steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4499/1808/1291

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  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review
  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

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