Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS

An added sprinkle of Targa exclusivity

“The silhouette is one-of-a-kind and, being a Porsche lover, I am enjoying it every second,” said Ershad.

A good mix of comfort as well as excellent support on those fast corners and quick lane changes.”

“Porsche got the GTS (Gran Turismo Sport) badge in 1964 and Targa was introduced in 1966.”

“You feel like a race car driver minus the gloves and helmet!”

Selling cars in a country with may have the highest exotic sports car per square meter value; it will be every automaker’s dream to have that one model which will stand out of the bunch. One, which is not just a GT or a drop-top or only a stiffened up version of the standard model. The car with us today tries to be the special one. My trusted companion for the weekend is the 2018 Porsche Targa 4 GTS; let’s see if it has come out well.

Porsche got the GTS (Gran Turismo Sport) badge in 1964 and Targa was introduced in 1966. So yes, both of them have quite a bit of history between them. But it was not until the year 2015 that both these names came together, and what a successful journey it has been ever since.

The term ‘Targa’ has different Italian, German and even some Porsche race-winning stories associated with it. But to the car enthusiast, it just means a Porsche with a removable roof (but not at all like your conventional convertible). From a removable hard top, the full-length glass top all the way to the current completely motorized roof folding system, the Targa remains true to its roots.

Driving through the twisted Dubai alleys, I could feel the typical Porsche rumble echoing in my ears along with all the mechanical clunks and chatters from the flat-six engine. In its GTS form, the Targa features a sports exhaust with reduced sound absorption in the pipes, which renders a distinct gurgle. The feel was much better as I had a small section of roof safely stowed away and the lovely Alcantara interiors were exposed to the local climate. If the Carmine Red color was not too eye-catching to passers-by, the Targa design was more than enough for that! The rear section of the roof finished in glass is fixed on the B-pillar, which also serves to improve the structural strength of the Porsche as well as act as a roll protection bar. Only the front section of the roof between the windscreen and the B-pillar can be put away. The end result is that you are driving a Porsche that does not look anything like the day-to-day sport convertibles. The silhouette is one-of-a-kind and, being a Porsche lover, I am enjoying it every second. It feels great to be blipping the throttle and rolling along the alleys-especially powering out of the roundabouts.

Seating is comfortable on the standard: Sport Plus seats with four-way adjustment and seat centers finished in Alcantara. There’s a good mix of comfort as well as excellent support on those fast corners and quick lane changes. Red GTS stitching on the front and rear seats make sure that it is recognized quickly. A sport steering wheel with Alcantara rim and an interior basically comprising of black brush-finished aluminum combined with dark shades ensure that the GTS-effect is passed on to you.

Exiting on to the motorway, the 3.0-liter 450 horsepower twin-turbocharged unit pulls eagerly and you will need to keep a keen look out for those speed cams. Peak torque of 550 Nm is developed from as low as 2,100 rpm and you have grunt available at the slightest push of the pedal. The current Targa GTS generates 20 horsepower more than the previous model and powers all the wheels through a PDK transmission. Gearshifts happen faster than the bat of an eyelid, especially in the Sport Plus mode. The GTS trim adorns the Targa with PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) which lowers the car by 20mm over standard models and, coupled with the wide rear track, provides excellent lateral stability and cornering confidence. High-speed lane changes are a pleasure with excellent feedback from the electromechanical power steering unit and the optional rear axle steering provides those mild nudges to keep the Targa glued to the road. On the GTS label, our test Targa runs on 20-inch wheels covered in satin black with a central locking nut, as seen on the 911 Turbo models. 245/35 and 305/30 section tires handle the gripping duties up front and rear respectively.

After enjoying some motorway wind in my hair, it was time to put the piece of roof back in place and escape the hot dust! The six-piston monobloc brakes up front, which bite on 350mm discs and four-piston units with 330mm discs, helps in shedding speed rapidly and without any drama as the Targa pulls over to the service lane. The braking capability exceeds the likes of the Audi R8 V10 Spyder, which is a clear indicator of the chassis strength and GTS magic. The roof takes around 20 seconds to completely fold or unfold into place, all through the push of a button and can be done only when the car is completely stopped.

With the roof in place, the cabin is suddenly much quieter. The major cut off would be the road noise from those super wide tires. What’s amazing is the airy feel you have with a complete glass rear roof, which gives you unrestricted views and takes away a bit of that cocooned feel. This would be one factor why the rear passengers (if any) would feel a bit more at ease. The glass roof will of course not be the most suitable for our region (especially during the summer months) and may create a greenhouse effect if parked in the hot sun. Tinting the rear glass section will take out all the beauty of the Targa design and may gel it along with the black B-pillar, exclusive on the current GTS trim. High-speed corners are greeted with a smile, taken with an even broader smile and exited with the broadest smile ever-and maybe a hint of the rear end sliding out. Electronically controlled engine mounts are provided to balance any dynamic forces that may be generated from the drivetrain and can affect handling characteristics. Add to this the Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) Plus system with an electronically controlled rear diff-lock, which helps in imparting magical powers to your corner-taking abilities. You feel like a race car driver minus the gloves and helmet though!

After spending a good amount of miles on the motorway, I have a quick stop at a wayside cafe close to my home. As the sun was just setting, I took a minute to enjoy all the curves on the 2018 Targa. Up front we have a black spoiler lip and wide open air intakes to hint at the ‘GTS’-ishness. Bi-Xenon headlamp units are available in smoked version for added street cred. The design lines are unmistakably Porsche and are reminiscent of classic Targa models. The most prominent aspects in profile would be the Targa B-pillar finished in black for the first time, the huge 20-inch wheels finished in silky black and black GTS logo on the door. Smoked taillights and GTS badging subtly characterize the rear end. A rear spoiler is provided for added dynamism, but in my opinion it is best left closed to enjoy the swooping smooth design. Twin tailpipes finished in gloss black and located centrally look and sound great.

Verdict
As with all top-down cars, the Targa looks beautiful with the roof folded and you can be sure of not getting lost in a crowd of the usual convertibles! A tight handling Porsche with the added sprinkle of Targa exclusivity is what the 2018 Porsche Targa 4 GTS is all about. Pinpoint handling with decent amounts of creature comfort and super-strong Porsche reliability will guarantee good sales numbers for the Targa.

Pros: GTS add-ons, 450 hp engine, silhouette, brilliant ride and handling
Cons: Greenhouse effect may not suit the Middle East; cheaper options are available in the same family
Rivals: Jaguar F-Type R AWD Convertible, Mercedes-AMG GTS Roadster, McLaren 570S Spider, Audi R8 Spyder
One word: Own a Legend!
4.5 stars

Specs
3.0L twin-turbochargers, flat 6-cylinder, 450 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 550 Nm @ 2,150-5,000 rpm
7-speed double-clutch transmission (PDK) with electronically controlled rear differential lock and PTV Plus, FWD/AWD
0-100 km/h: 3.5 secs, top speed: 306 km/h, fuel consumption: 11 L/100 km
Weight: 1,632-1655 kg

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