Undeniably Distinctive

The 992 Targa 4 GTS looks impressive, but does its performance live up to its striking appearance?

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January 25, 2024

The 992 Targa is a strong contender for the most visually appealing offering among its peers. Seamlessly blending modern design with nostalgic elements, it encapsulates the essence of Porsche’s classic lift-off-top 911. However, the plus of the Targa’s visual allure is counterbalanced by a heavier top and roof mechanism. Critics argue that this feature might compromise its center of gravity, potentially challenging the handling prowess synonymous with the 911.

Amidst this scrutiny, should the merits of a car rooted in the exceptional 992 platform be overshadowed? Is it justifiable to assess its performance based on a mere increment in weight above its beltline? Today, we hit the road to unearth the veracity behind these criticisms. Let’s delve into the delicate equilibrium between form and function.

Background & Tech Brief

From its inception in 1967 until 1994, the 911 Targa, named after the Targa Florio road race, boasted a distinctive removable roof panel, complemented by a defining roll hoop arcing between its B-pillars. The winds of change swept in with the advent of the 993 generation, marking a departure from tradition. Porsche embraced innovation by introducing a large sliding glass roof setup in 1996, a feature that persisted through subsequent iterations in the 996 and 997 generations. The era of the glass-top 911 Targa concluded in 2011.

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In a nostalgic homage to its roots, Porsche revived the essence of the original Targa design with the 991-generation 911 in 2014. This modern Targa diverged from its classic predecessor’s lift-out top, showcasing a mechanically retracting Targa top so intricately engineered that its operation captivates onlookers, often halting them in their tracks.

Like their 991 predecessors, the 992 Targas are exclusively equipped with all-wheel drive. As such, they are available in Targa 4, 4S, or 4 GTS trims. Industry insiders disclosed that this strategic decision aligns with overwhelming demand from Targa buyers, with a vast majority expressing a preference for AWD.

Our hands-on encounter revolves around the 992 Targa 4 GTS, a model closely related to the Carrera 4 GTS. It houses a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six engine at the rear, producing an impressive 473 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Underneath, a MacPherson-type front suspension, a multi-link rear suspension, and electromechanical power steering with a variable steering ratio compose its technical makeup. Porsche Active Suspension Management comes standard. The wheels are 20 × 8.5-inch alloys wrapped in 245/35ZR-20 rubber in front and 21 × 11.5 rollers with 305/30ZR-21 tires in back.

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Braking is managed by 408-mm (16.1-in.) diameter and 36-mm thick (1.4 in.) cast iron rotors clamped by six-piston calipers in front, and 380-mm (15.0-in.) diameter by 30-mm (1.2-in.) thick discs clamped by four-piston calipers in back. Optional 410 mm (16.1 in.) six-piston caliper front and 390 mm (15.4 in) six-piston four-piston caliper rear Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes are also available. Buyers can opt for an eight-speed PDK or a seven-speed manual transmission. Our drive today features the three-pedal model.

On the Road

Approaching the Targa, its aesthetic allure is immediate. It stands out as arguably the best-looking current 911 to the eye. While all current-gen 911s possess undeniable attractiveness, the sleek Targa roof adds that extra touch.

Stepping into the driver’s seat unveils a welcoming leather and Alcantara interior reminiscent of classics found in 911s of yore. The vertical-front dashboard pays homage to air-cooled 911s, merging vintage aesthetics with modernity through a 10.9-inch central screen and a blend of classic and contemporary elements in the instrument cluster. Igniting the engine, the Targa emits a robust, pleasing roar akin to its Carrera 4 GTS counterpart.

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As the rubber meets the road, I take a measured approach for the initial miles to grasp its daily demeanor. Like most two-door Porsches today, the Targa 4 GTS is delightful for city strolls or long highway cruises. Make no mistake, though, this is a very potent sports car. Accelerating forcefully from a standstill is impressive, leaving no doubt that this approximately 3,600-pound machine can reach 60 miles per hour in roughly four seconds and nearly touch 200 mph at its peak.

Upon reaching a secluded, winding stretch of road, I push it at about seven-tenths. Through this segment, predominantly navigated in second and third gears, the Targa’s handling remains impressive despite its marginally higher center of gravity. It is solid, predictable, and consistently informative through the steering wheel.

If there’s a complaint, it lies with the seven-speed manual transmission. While most shifts are reasonably smooth, during intense driving moments—particularly maneuvering tighter bends and transitioning between second and third gears—the shifter can feel resistant and notchy, demanding more effort compared to the ultra slick-shifting six-speed 718 Boxster T I drove earlier.

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The notchy shifter doesn’t spoil the day, though. During regular driving, the shifter performs adequately. Yet, for drivers seeking quick, precise shifts during spirited drives, the standard seven-speed in this model might pose some frustration. Even so, my experience behind the wheel leans toward the positive.

At a base price of $171,100, our Targa 4 GTS bears an identical price tag to a Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet and is $12,900 pricier than a Carrera 4 GTS. Choosing between the Targa and a convertible boils down to personal preference. Nevertheless, the Targa suits those desiring a more open-air experience without committing to the full droptop.

The Verdict

The contention that the 992 Targa might suffer from being top-heavy is largely unfounded. Yes, there’s additional weight up top, but the average owner may never feel any noticeable difference. I contend that unless an adept racing driver pushes this car to its limits on a track, the extra weight atop won’t significantly manifest in an overt manner.

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Is the sophisticated top truly worth nearly thirteen grand over the Carrera 4 GTS? In summary, yes. The Targa’s appeal and distinctive driving experience with the roof stowed are undeniable. While the Carrera 4 GTS is an exceptional machine, it could be argued that the Targa 4 GTS offers a superior on-road experience.

The 992 Targa 4 GTS is a remarkable iteration within the 911 lineage, blending compelling aesthetics with commendable performance. Despite the debates surrounding its center of gravity, its performance on the road remains a testament to Porsche’s engineering prowess and commitment to offering diverse driving experiences within its lineup.

Also from Issue 307

  • 917-030 Drive
  • 992 GT3 MR
  • Market Update: Boxster & Cayman
  • 911 Turbos at Le Mans
  • 2024 Cayenne E-Hybrids
  • Brake Friction Components
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