Porsche 911 Targa 4S

April 2014

picture of car from the front

Iconic 911 Targa has been given a modern makeover

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 6Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 6Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 7Car safety


Likes

  • Visually this modern interpretation of the Targa design is stunning
  • Well-engineered roof offers security and comfort when raised
  • Rapid performance, particularly from S variant
  • Standard all-wheel drive layout adds extra layer of security when wet or dry

Gripes

  • Seven-speed manual gearbox requires a bit of practice to master
  • Purists might struggle with the Targa's noticeable extra weight burden
  • Too easy to spend over six figures on a modestly specced car
  • Sports exhaust option a little too loud and artificial-sounding

It's been a long time since the 911 Targa reflected the design of the original model. Recent years have seen models fitted with an extended sliding glass roof, not the trademark fixed roll hoop, but that's changed with this '991' generation car as Porsche seeks a closer connection with its heritage.

The case for the 911 might have changed in recent years. It's grown in size and weight, and can prove quite expensive if you opt for the really high performance models and choose to spoil yourself with the options catalogue. Both Boxster and Cayman models deliver a more engaging experience for less money if you're more of a purist.

That said, the 911 is Porsche's flagship car and remains the benchmark for many in terms of all-round performance, refinement and brand cachet. And if you want to get yourself noticed, there's no better model than one without a roof. And while the regular convertible variant is a good choice, the Targa adds a welcome extra level of 'star quality' to the 911 ownership experience.

There's no question that the Targa option delivers an impressive level of technology to the 911 party. The car's roof mechanism is a work of art, and it looks stunning with it lowered. There is a weight penalty and, unlike with the convertible, you can't lower the roof when on the move. Still, Porsche fans will no doubt be pleased to see the traditional Targa design back in production.

As for day-to-day use, this Targa does a fine job of combining style with substance. Rear storage space is modest thanks to the roof hardware and you'll notice the extra weight when you're pushing on. These are likely to be small niggles when faced with the iconic Targa silhouette on your drive, however.

Our verdict on the Porsche 911 Targa 4S

There's no question that Porsche has again worked its customary magic with the 911 Targa. Not only is it good to see the traditional interpretation back in production, but the implementation is also impressive from an engineering perspective. There are a few compromises to be aware of - packaging, weight - but it's likely prospective buyers won't be that concerned. After all, if you want a pure and simple 911 driving experience there's always the basic Carrera coupe.

Costs
Costs rating 6

Running costs are inevitably high with a car like this, although improvements in engine efficiency have resulted in small but useful reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Also, restrained driving behavior can result in respectable levels of economy. Still, fuel, insurance and servicing will dominate your financial outlay.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

With the rear seats in the 911 merely a token addition, front seat occupants shouldn't have any complaints about any available space. Oddment storage - open and covered - is in good supply, though luggage space is restricted to the surprisingly capacious front compartment unless you call the rear seats into use. Thankfully the roof doesn't intrude into the cabin when retracted.

picture of car from the rear

Wraparound rear screen is hard to miss

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

Clarity is the key to the 911's controls and displays. The 991-model 911 has adopted a version of the Panamera's centre console, which has resulted in a more orderly location of the car's main controls, although at first it does take a little while to find everything. The car's touch screen infotainment unit remains intuitive, while the main dials are an object lesson in clarity.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

With its roof up the Targa is closer to the coupe in terms of refinement than the fabric-roof convertible will ever be. Roof down and it's a different matter as there's a little too much wind noise generated even at moderate speeds, although a pop-up wind deflector over the top of the windscreen can reduce this to modest levels. As with other 911s, the Targa's cabin is a good size and wide enough to accommodate two adults in comfort.

Car security
Security Rating 7

The standard alarm and immobiliser system should be considered a minimum in a car such as this. The Targa variant bests the convertible in terms of theft resistance and there's the range-wide inclusion of a vehicle tracker for added peace of mind.

Car safety
Safety Rating 7

For a car as potent as the 911 - especially in 3.8 S specification - there's no shortage of safety kit. From stability control to numerous airbags, you're covered for most eventualities. That said, keen drivers will be pleased to know that the various stability control elements are progressive and can be turned off if desired. As an added bonus, Porsche ownership comes with a complimentary initial track-based experience.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

Helping to promote its high-ranking status in the line-up, the Targa is only available with all-wheel drive. The two regular 911 engines are offered, and it's the 3.8-litre, 400 horsepower 'S' not the 3.4-litre, 350 horsepower unit that provides the most enjoyment. There's no denying that the Targa carries more weight than its coupe and convertible stablemates, and this is noticeable when you're pushing one. That said, there's no denying that the car is quick, although you need to think carefully before selecting large wheels and a more aggressive suspension set-up as the ride can become overly firm.

picture of car interior

Familiar 911 cabin is hard to fault

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 2

At a push, the 911 Targa could ferry two adults and two children on short journeys but the latter would have to be very young. You'd be almost solely reliant on the car's front load space, though. If you really want a family-friendly Porsche you'll need a Cayenne.

First car appeal
First car Rating 1

It's a predictable outcome but the 911 in any form is hardly a suitable car for first timers, given its unusual engine layout, dynamics and even simple things like the reduced visibility and heavy clutch. And that's before you explore running costs.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 9

For those who really appreciate highly capable sports cars, Porsche's products and the 911 in particular are regarded as some of the best in the business. Quality has always been a strong feature of Porsche cars and this 991-generation car is no different. Factor in the cachet of the Targa line-up and it's hard not to like what the German firm has achieved.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Once you're aware of the 911's limitations the act of getting in and out is rarely a challenge. With the 911 being low to the ground, so is the seating position. The car's doors are big, but that's only an issue when parked in a tight space next to other vehicles. Unlike with the Cabriolet, raising and lowering the Targa's roof can only be done when stationary - it's a big mechanism requiring more space than usual.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The car's centre console design plays a significant part in ensuring the standard fit audio unit is easy to use. The default unit sounds good and, in typical Porsche style, can be upgraded to include touch screen sat-nav, Bluetooth and MP3 player connectivity. The result is a costly but exceptionally easy to use system.

picture of car in detail

Trademark Targa rollover hoop is a nice touch

Colours and trim

The 911 Targa is available in a wide range of exterior colours, and even the brighter hues do much to compliment the car's curves alongside the contrasting Targa roof design. Inside there's plenty of scope for mixing and matching trim materials and colours to suit - with the only limit being your finances.

Parking

You sit low down in the 911, and that can make parking a little tricky at first due to the reduced visibility - especially the over the shoulder view. It's a wide car and the side mirrors are small. Fortunately the car's steering is light and accurate at low speeds and, where fitted, the parking sensors make a big difference. With the roof lowered rear vision is improved.

Spare wheel

Tyre inflation kit fitted as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 3.4-litre (350bhp); 3.8-litre (400bhp). Transmission options: seven-speed manual gearbox, seven-speed PDK semi-auto gearbox. Trim levels: Carrera, S.

 

Alternative cars

BMW 6 Series Convertible Big BMW is rapid but not as driver focused as the 911

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster Uprated V8 lifts the car's performance to new heights

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder Most usable Lamborghini still not as user friendly as the 911

Mercedes-Benz SL-Class In AMG guise, a strong mix of usability and performance with folding metal roof



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April 2014