Porsche 911 Targa GTS 2017 review
The Porsche 911 Targa GTS is the heaviest car in the range, but it certainly looks the part and it's great fun to drive
One of the best ways to enjoy the British summer has to be by driving a Porsche 911 Targa, and this GTS model is the ultimate version. While we're not sure the extra cash you'll spend on the GTS is best placed on the least focused, heaviest 911 in the range, there's no denying that it looks great, is fun to drive and has all the performance you'll ever need.
We love the Porsche 911 GTS - it's a superb compromise between the useability of the entry-level car and the driving thrills of the harder, more focused GT3 model. But how does the Targa version fare?
The UK is currently basking in the hottest, sunniest spell of the year, which means the open-top Targa 4 GTS we've driven here was really at its best. A clever folding roof mechanism drops the middle section of the roof down - and with that beautiful curved glass rear windscreen in place the Targa certainly looks classier than a 911 Convertible. It’s just a shame you can’t operate it on the move; the complex roof system only folds from a standstill, and takes nearly 20 seconds to complete its formation.
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But the price you pay for the fun in the sun is that this Targa version is the heaviest GTS model. At 1,605kg it's significantly chunkier than the svelte 1,470kg of the hard-top model. Combined with the PDK gearbox and four-wheel drive, that means our test car is the least focused 911 GTS in the range.
Of course it's still a 911 - and that means you get an incredible chassis and all the blistering performance you'd exepct. The GTS uses the same 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six as the normal Targa, but here it has 444bhp and 550Nm of torque. With launch control, it'll do 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds - and on the road it feels mighty. That frankly astounding time is thanks to the PDK’s launch control system; the manual model completes the same sprint in 4.1 seconds.
The flat-six is superb in-gear while still responding well when you head up to the rev limiter, and is much more audible here with the Targa roof down. It's not the most exciting-sounding engine, especially next to the new naturually-aspirated GT3 model, but it’s hard not to enjoy the pops and bangs from the sports exhaust – and the howl at the top end is far from unpleasant.
The seven-speed PDK dual-cluch gearbox fitted to our test car is one of the best auto gearboxes available, shifting smoothly in auto mode but delivering incredibly quick changes when you want them. We found the shifts were so responsive using the paddles that it was easy to drive all day in manual mode. Most other autos suffer too much delay when pressing the paddle to make this pleasant around town.
Four-wheel drive means this Targa 4 GTS has incredible grip, especially on baking hot tarmac. Driving fast is second nature in the 911 GTS, and the natural-feeling brakes give you confidence to slow down quickly, too. Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus sends power where it's needed, too, giving you huge drive out of the bend. It has such a clever all-wheel-drive system that at times it feels like a rear-wheel drive car, just with a bit more security at the front end.
Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management is standard - so there are Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes, as well as an individual setting. In comfort the 911 Targa GTS is soft enough to be used every day, but tighten up the dampers into their hardest setting and you can feel every bump and ridge in the road. Of course, that also means it feels even sharper through the bends.
The Targa is at its best on an open, sweeping road with the sun beating down. The cabin is spacious up front, and buffeting with the roof down is kept to a minimum. It’s beautifully built, too, with loads of soft leather and a responsive touchscreen infotainment system. The button-heavy layout feels a bit dated, however, and the two tiny seats in the back are only really useful for a couple of soft bags.
You can feel the Targa’s weight, though, and as impressive as it is, we wonder whether the GTS model is a good fit. At more than £100,000 it’s expensive, too, with the non-GTS version offering much better value for money. So perhaps saving some cash and sticking with the (still brilliant) standard Targa would be a better choice.