2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S First Drive: Dilettante or Masterpiece?

Shut your eyes and focus on the phrase “targa.” What does your thoughts’s eye see? One thing with a Porsche badge on the hood, I’m guessing. For me—most likely as a result of I personal a $500 one—my mind locks onto the Porsche 914.

Nevertheless, I’d guess that for many car-lovers on the market, an outdated (although nonetheless pretty) Porsche 911 Targa leaps to thoughts. Possibly even a soft-window one from 1967. Level is, you suppose Porsche, regardless that (virtually) each Corvette coupe since 1984 sports activities a targa roof. Out of the handfuls of targa-roofed vehicles (targa simply means a roof panel that pops off whereas the B-pillars keep put) which have been constructed—we’re speaking all the things from the Suzuki Cappuccino to the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse—Porsche was fortunate and/or smart sufficient to copyright the phrase “Targa” again in 1965.

Mockingly, the final model of the Porsche 911 Targa featured something however a easy, detachable panel that you just toss within the trunk. The retraction and deployment of the 991 Targa’s lid was a formidable mechanical ballet that conjured up the complete monty of cliché watchmaking vocabulary—escapement, tourbillon, rattrapante, complication—you get the purpose. However it labored. The 991 Targa’s roof labored so nicely that for the brand new 992 2021 Porsche 911 Targa, it’s utilizing the identical one. Sure, actually.

At this level in my relationship with the 992 era of the Porsche 911, I’m in search of dangerous issues to say. Not solely was the Carrera S our 2019 Best Driver’s Car, however every successive iteration launched has been higher and higher, culminating with the mighty, borderline ridiculous Turbo S that’s been kicking sand in the face of each automobile we might throw at it. Is the brand new Targa a variant too far? Has that further weight from that Gordian Knot of a roof—plus the load of the AWD {hardware}—doomed the slick, horny droptop to a spot of irrelevance in Porsche’s sports activities automobile pantheon? Has being not fairly a coupe whereas not fairly a convertible rendered the Targa as nothing greater than a $136,550 (base worth) multitool? Look, I ‘m reaching right here. Not solely is the reply to each questions a powerful no, however I feel I’m in love. Silly Porsche.

What Makes it Go?

Mechanically, the 2021 Porsche Targa 4S is sort of equivalent to different 992 era 911s. The physique is definitely primarily based on the Cabriolet, however as a result of the Targa roof mechanism weighs a bit extra, the entrance/rear weight distribution is totally different, and as such the dampers and spring charges have been ever-so-slightly retuned. Emphasis—from what I perceive—on ever-so-slightly. When it comes to powertrain, the Targa’s actually equivalent to different Carreras. Within the 4S, the dry-sumped, twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six mill produces 443 hp and 390 lb-ft. of torque; the Targa four makes 379 hp and 331 lb-ft. The transmission is the eight-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) dual-clutch unit present in different 992s. Actually, I pored over a gigabyte of official Porsche paperwork, and the one factor that makes the Targa totally different is that roof. However what a roof!

As Beautiful as 911s Get

Have I swallowed the Targa Kool-Assist? Let’s go along with sure as a result of to me, in my thoughts, no 911 is healthier trying than a Targa. They simply do it for me. That brushed magnesium B-pillar bar or hoop—first launched on the 991 Targa, and a callback to the unique—is simply so selection.

Truly, selection is the proper phrase, as you may see from the pictures that the yellow automobile I drove had the $700 black B-pillar choice. After desirous about this (insanely first-world) dilemma for a few days, I do know the reply: Purchase two Targas. Kidding? Possibly, however bear in mind the common 911 proprietor earns greater than $600,000 a 12 months.

The Targa additionally seems higher than the Cabriolet. It simply does. The Cab’s beltline rises too excessive, which means its butt is simply too up within the air. Though the Convertible 911 is gorgeous with its high up, the Targa simply seems higher. Sure, I’m into the seems. Sue me. Can I be crucial? Positive. The journey peak is simply too excessive, particularly while you’re trying on the staggered, 20-inch entrance wheel.  The inevitable Targa GTS will repair that whereas including one other 40 or so hp (determine 475 hp); nonetheless, it’s good to drive a 992 that doesn’t want a front-end raise.

How’s it Drive?

Roof open or closed, the freeway manners of this 2021 Porsche Targa 4S are spectacular. I at all times decide on McLaren on this scenario—as a result of it’s the supercar maker that first started bragging about “Rolls-Royce journey high quality”—however Porsche has received the damping wars. Different sports activities vehicles don’t journey as nicely. Full cease. With the roof down in Regular mode, the Targa 4S is simply as lux feeling as a Mercedes SL or BMW Eight Sequence Convertible, with a fair sweeter, subtler journey. Set the optionally available adaptive cruise management, and neglect it.

Nevertheless, must you all of the sudden end up caught behind a automobile going a lot slower than you’d like, merely give the throttle about 10 p.c extra, the good transmission drops from eighth to fifth gear, and also you’re again at your most popular cruising velocity inside moments. As soon as there, you might be free to ponder precisely how a lot testing, engineering, and programming went into that particular, ghost within the machine-quality shift.

This specific Racing Yellow Targa is near what we prefer to name a “journalist particular,” which means it’s been specced with each efficiency choice doable, and hardly a spare dime has been spent on the cabin. True, there’s some nondescript black leather-based on the sprint and doorways, and the checkerboard Sport-Tex seat inserts from Porsche Unique are nifty certainly. Nonetheless, the inside may very well be a lot finer. All one must do is spend the bucks.

Twist the cheap-feeling Drive Mode knob (it’s been cheap-feeling because it debuted within the 918 Spyder) protruding of the underside proper half of the steering wheel to Sport, and the Targa 4S turns into extra battened down. The throttle response improves, the engine’s pulse quickens, and the dampers alter accordingly. The Porsche transforms from an opulent cruiser to a surprisingly succesful and efficient sports activities automobile. Balanced, highly effective, intuitive, and enjoyable: You end up questioning why different carmakers even trouble. Have a look at what these Stuttgarten automobile nerds can do! It’s not honest.

Sledgehammering my manner round twists and turns, I discovered myself enchanted by the light tug from the entrance wheels. Like most AWD efficiency vehicles, there’s a sense of solidity and confidence you simply don’t get from rear-drivers. That’s more often than not; there are exceptions to all guidelines. The primary 10 corners really feel flabbergastingly fast, then you definitely acclimate to the speeds that the automobile is able to and simply marvel.

Sport mode was on the tighter, decrease pace portion of the street. The large, world-class twisties of Angeles Crest lay forward. Now’s the time to rotate that knob to Sport Plus. Issues get extra severe. My tempo picks up from say eight-tenths to 9. That is about as laborious as I’ll drive on public roads; you bought to depart a security margin. However, by pushing the Targa 4S a bit tougher, you discover the rub. This Targa is in any case “simply” a 4S. It’s not the upcoming GTS, nor a Turbo with that fancy pants new PASM Sport. It’s not from Porsche’s GT division. The staggered tires—yeoman Pirelli P Zeros sized 245/35/ZR20 in entrance, 305/30/ZR21 rear—start squealing. Not horribly, and principally in tight, second-gear corners, however squealing nonetheless. That AWD tug I used to be praising a second in the past, nicely, I notice that it’s really a tradeoff: A pinch of steering really feel is swapped out for a spoonful of grip. I wouldn’t name it understeer (although, there’s a skosh), however reasonably because the 4S approaches its limits, the habits turns into much less predictable and extra erratic. Nothing deadly thoughts you, however there’s a spike within the graph.


This Targa 4S ain’t low cost; $181,840 as-tested isn’t fairly sufficient to get you right into a Turbo S (you’d want one other $25Okay), however you might drive off with the upcoming GT3. Well worth the cash then? Will depend on how usually you drive like an individual fleeing a robbed financial institution. The 4S really drives fairly equally to the new Turbo S Cabriolet with out the Weissach-fettled PASM Sport suspension. That’s good—nice even—while you’re speaking efficiency, however not superlative. A forgivable sin? Clearly, as a result of let’s face it: How usually are you really driving your individual automobile the way in which I’m paid to utterly thrash on this stuff? Be sincere. Proper, about as soon as. Nonetheless, I can’t deny the truth that there’s a small voice chattering away behind my cranium about different 992s I’ve pushed which can be higher. See, the difficulty is, you and I do know what the Porsche 992 platform is able to. Am I saying we anticipate the even sportier Targa GTS and spend the additional $20Okay or so? Yeah, I feel I’m. Silly Porsche.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S
BASE PRICE $136,550
LAYOUT Rear-engine, AWD, 2+2-pass, 2-door convertible
ENGINE 3.0L/443-hp/390-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve flat-6
TRANSMISSION 8-speed twin-clutch auto
CURB WEIGHT 3,700 lb (MT est)
L x W x H 177.9 x 72.9 x 51.2 in
0-60 MPH 3.Zero sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 16/23/19 mpg (est)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 211/147 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.05 lb/mile (est)
ON SALE Fall 2020


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