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First drive: Porsche 911 Targa (992). Image by Richard Pardon.

First drive: Porsche 911 Targa (992)
The Targa’s back – although it never really went away this time – and we’re very happy about this fact; even if it’s not the sharpest 992 in the drawer.

 



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Porsche 911 Targa (992)

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Take a 991 Porsche 911 Targa and mix it with a 992 Carrera 4S, and what you end up with is one of the coolest open-top machines on the planet. The pay-off for this immense street-cred factor is that the 992 Targa doesn't drive quite as sweetly as its 992 Coupe and much-improved Cabriolet siblings. But when it looks as good as this, do you honestly care about that fact? At all? Thought not.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK (992)
Pricing: 911 range from £82,795, Targa 4S from £109,725, car as tested £129,172
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six petrol
Transmission: PTM all-wheel drive, eight-speed PDK twin-clutch automatic
Body style: two-door, 2+2 Targa convertible
CO2 emissions: 245g/km (VED Band 226-255: £1,850 first 12 months, then £475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 26.2mpg
Top speed: 189mph
0-62mph: 3.6 seconds (with optional Sport Chrono; 3.8 seconds without)
Power: 450hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 530Nm at 2,300-5,000rpm
Boot space: 132 litres (front boot), additional 163 litres (behind front seats)

What's this?

What this car is all about is the pure, emotional, aesthetic appeal. Let's face it, with two body styles already accounted for in the 992 family, in the form of the Coupe and the Cabriolet, there's precious little actual need for the 911 Targa to make its eighth appearance on the world stage; and yes, that means there's been a Targa version of every 911 in this iconic model's near-60-year lineage, whereas the 'Cab' was a relative latecomer with its 1982 gestation - although, admittedly, the Targa lost its way somewhat through the 993, 996 and 997 generations of the 911, when the evocative T-word apparently meant nothing more than 'full-length glass roof'.

But here it is again, because this time around Porsche had already done all the hard work in resurrecting the 'proper' Targa configuration for the 991 in 2014, so all Stuttgart needed to do here was graft the upper-rear quarters of a 991 Targa onto the back of a 992 shell. The net result is stunning. The rollover-hoop-and-wraparound-rear-screen confection (raises and lowers fully automatically in 19 seconds, although you need to be stationary for it to work, whereas the Cabriolet can do its lid-stashing gymnastics on the move at speeds of up to 31mph) just works wonders with the full-width taillight strip and sleeker appearance of the 992 in general, and there can be few vehicles in the world which can pull off white (Carrara White metallic, in case you're wondering, at a cost of £876) with black details as sumptuously as this 992 Targa 4S. Inside, it's the usual thoroughly excellent 992 cabin, albeit the fancy roof-folding mechanism makes those '+2' seats in the rear look even less inviting than they already are in the Coupe or Cabriolet. Thankfully, Porsche itself sees sense and cites them as 'additional luggage space behind the front seats', rating this blustery void at 163 litres of capacity. That's more than the cubic 'frunk' squatting between the Porker's headlights, a storage compartment which can only swallow 132 litres of magubbins.

Quickly, the range for the Targa is considerably more limited than it is for the Coupe and Cabriolet lines. There are no rear-wheel-drive versions of the Targa, for instance, so the cheapest model is the £98,170 Targa 4 with the 385hp 3.0-litre biturbo engine; this Targa 4S, at a basic £109,725, packs the more potent 450hp iteration of the same '9A2 Evo' mill. These prices are pound-for-pound identical with the equivalent Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S Cabriolet models respectively, but whereas the entirely-fabric-topped 911 can be, going the other way from base level, specified in mighty Turbo and Turbo S formats, about the most lofty performance level the 992 Targa will ever attain is a GTS-badged model. Speaks volumes for Porsche's confidence in its make-up, that. Anyway, for now, the only deviations from unadorned Targa 4 or Targa 4S that you can have is to spec the more powerful model as either a no-cost-option seven-speed manual, instead of the standard-fit eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission (which is the only 'box available for the Targa 4), or to go for the natty Heritage Design edition, which is basically a Targa 4S in a fancy frock.

How does it drive?

As with its immediate predecessor, the problem for the eighth-gen Targa is weight. Its huge glass rear canopy, lovely though it most certainly is, makes it heavier than a 992 Cabrio by 40kg and it's a chunky 110 kilos lardier than its equivalent Coupe. That mass is all mounted in the wrong location, too - high up, far to the back of the car. So while Porsche claims some scorching figures for the 1,675kg Targa 4S, such as a 3.6-second 0-62mph time in optional Sport Chrono (+£1,683) trim, this stylish open-topped 911 never feels quite as rabid nor as insistent as its Cabriolet or Coupe relations with the same engine.

It also doesn't handle as well. Sure, it remains pretty terrific - Porsche once again has thrown the cost-options confetti at this white 4S and waited to see what stuck, and so there are acuity-enhancing extras like Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC, £2,273), Rear-Axle Steering (RAS, £1,592), Power Steering Plus (£185) and, doing nothing for handling but everything for sound, the £1,844 Sports exhaust system with the centrally mounted oval tailpipes (finished in black, to match the rest of the exterior aesthetic). Coupled with the inherent magnificence of the 992's underpinnings, you're still left with a sports car that leaves almost everything else at its price level in its wake for driver engagement, thanks to fabulous steering, monster brakes, immense mechanical grip and that sublime, delicate rear-engined balance that only the 911 has these days.

But it's not as sharp as a 992 Cab. And it's nowhere near as edifying as the 992 Coupe, because that top-heavy, backside-biased weight gain means the Targa 4S is not as assured when it's dealing with high-speed compressions and crests, it's not as comfortable at performing rapid-fire, left-right-left corner combinations, and it's notably less keyed-in to corners at the front end. The very thing that makes the Targa so desirable, that theatrical and show-stopping roof, is the very thing that induces more push-on understeer in the 992's otherwise exemplary chassis. A 4S enhanced by PDCC and RAS does everything it can to keenly dive into low-speed corners, whereupon it will just cling on no matter what you do to provoke it, but in mid-speed turns, with the outside wheels already loaded up, squeezing on the throttle sees the Targa 4S wash wide for an instant. It's mildly pervasive understeer that's simply not there on a Carrera 4S Coupe and if you're buying a 911 purely on the deity-level engineering genius of its chassis, the Targa is undoubtedly the weak link in the 992 chain.

However. You could look at it another way. Porsche has made the 992 the most refined 911 yet when you're not on what was once called 'an absolute flyer' (no, not the pamphlet...), and if you assess the Targa as the most 'GT-esque' version (no, not that type of 911 GT, either...) of the family so far, then you'll realise entirely where its charms lie. Knocked back a notch, driving the Porsche just within itself, it's a storming car. It feels tremendous to just be in it, roof and windows down, marvelling at the lack of buffeting within thanks to that tiny pop-up deflector on the windscreen's header rail, and cruising along in a convertible with inherent SoCal cool. Yeah, yeah, 'feelgood factor' is a flimsy pretext on which to drop a colossal 130 grand on a machine which is somewhat impractical in terms of its seating and luggage capacities, but that's where we are with the Targa 4S. It's maybe eight-out-of-ten for composure when driving it at or near the absolute limit, so if you're a track-day aficionado don't bother looking at this particular 992, but as a gratifying, fast, capable and downright desirable road car, the Targa 4S is hard to beat. The ride quality on the standard-fit Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) dampers is superb. The level of road roar doesn't seem as noticeable as it is on equivalently-tyred Coupe and Cabriolet models. And, every so often, you can glance in your door mirrors and see that 'Targa'-branded roll hoop behind you and, yep, you crack an enormous smile. Hard to put a price on that last aspect of its character, isn't it? Oh, hold on, we'll give it a go: the only open-topped 911 that's ever made us feel anything like as happy as this one cost £211,599 and was limited to 1,948 worldwide units.

Verdict

Possibly the least technically adept of all the 992s we've driven so far, the new Targa 4S is nevertheless the Porsche 911 we yearn to drive again the most. It's not a car to judge with the cold rationality of your head, nor to chastise for its ever-so-slightly-blunter responses to inputs made right at the edge of its road-holding envelope; instead, it's a car which plucks shamelessly at your heartstrings. And, once it has done so, you'll find it very hard indeed to resist the magnetic allure of the 992 Targa.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 11 Aug 2020









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2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.

2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK 992 UK test. Image by Richard Pardon.








 

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