Of the myriad Porsche 911 variants available, the Targa GTS makes a heck of a case for itself.
– Los Angeles, California
There are 23 different versions of the Porsche 911 right now, and there isn’t a dud among them. From base 911 Carrera all the way up to holy-moly-that’s-good GT2 RS, there is a 911 for every kind of driver.
Smack dab in the middle of the 911 range lies the GTS series. A step up from base and S models, but not so powerful as to step on the Turbo’s toes, the 911 GTS is that sort of “just right” balance of all the things that make the 911 family so wonderful. This Targa 4 GTS is perhaps the best example of how Porsche’s iconic sports car can be so many things to so many people. It is the most versatile of all 911s – a proverbial Swiss Army Knife of utility, personality, and behind-the-wheel thrills.
The good stuff, standard. GTS models start by offering a bunch of otherwise optional 911 performance goodies as standard. For instance, while the GTS has the same 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-six as the Carrera S, it comes with the optional Powerkit, raising output to 450 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque (increases of 30 hp and 37 lb-ft over the S). The GTS also comes standard with the center-mounted sport exhaust, the wider body of the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 models, and totally rad center-lock 20-inch wheels from the 911 Turbo S. Inside, you get the GT Sport steering wheel and leather/Alcantara-trimmed seats. Additional GTS-specific items include black badges, tinted lamps, and the SportDesign front fascia. All great things.
Good reasons to go Targa. There’s something really iconic about the look of the 911 Targa models, with the wraparound rear glass, off-color pillar, and soft top that stows just behind the passenger compartment. As far as topless 911s go, the Targa not only looks better than the Cabriolet, but that big area behind the rear seats means it’s super functional – combined with the small front trunk, you get 10.1 cubic feet of cargo space. There isn’t any serious wind turbulence with the roof removed when driving at higher speeds, and the weight penalty (about 300 pounds versus a Carrera 4 GTS Coupe) is barely noticeable. It might not be the GTS model I’d get (more on that later), but the 911 Targa is not without plenty of merits.
A sports car for all occasions. The 911 GTS is such a treat to drive, all of the time. The engine is buttery smooth and tremendously powerful, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission swapping cogs with a quickness (though I’d still rather have the lovely seven-speed manual). That sport exhaust sounds absolutely killer – raspy and bellowy, totally distinctive. The steering is perfectly weighted so as to be light enough to easily maneuver through parking lots, but with enough heft and feedback to make backroad driving really enjoyable. Porsche’s adaptive suspension (PASM) keeps the GTS controlled and balanced, even on broken pavement, and the optional rear-axle steering of this test car means it’ll whip around bends with incredible precision. All-wheel drive and fat tires offer tremendous grip. And hell, slap a set of winter tires on it in the winter if you live in a cold-weather state; I can tell you for a fact that AWD 911s are excellent in the snow. Everything about the way this car drives is practically perfect; drive a 911 and you’ll see why it’s been the benchmark for all sports cars for over 50 years.
Not the GTS to get. Unless you absolutely must have the open-air experience, or really love the look of the Targa (which I do), I’d advocate just getting the 911 GTS Coupe. For starters, it’s nearly $20,000 cheaper, and you’re getting the same base GTS kit. Even the Carrera 4 GTS represents a $12,000 savings over the Targa, but because the 911 is so balanced and so grippy, I’m not so sure you even need all-wheel drive. Plus, GTS Coupe models come standard with the even better PASM Sport suspension, which can’t be fitted to the Targa or Cabriolet (those just get the base PASM setup). So, more for less. Hard to argue against that.
Check the competition. As with any 911, I firmly believe that you get what you pay for in terms of the overall quality and driving experience. But it’s worth mentioning that cars of similar size and power can be had for way less money than the $139,900 base price of this Targa 4 GTS, or even the $120,700 of the base Carrera GTS Coupe. A Corvette Grand Sport is $69,495, and a 550-horsepower Jaguar F-Type R slides in under $100,000.
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com