Malaga, Spain -- Being seduced can be an incredible experience, not that I know much about it. As an average male, on my best days, being lured in by a member of the opposite sex happens only in the movies I star in -- whilst I sleep. From a human standpoint, I fail at that game; however, when it comes to cars, I’m as easy as they come.
To be taken by a Porsche is not hard, but I still have some scruples when it comes to Stuttgart’s sexy automobiles: I prefer a hard fixed roof and 2WD, and I also lean towards the leaner types. By those standards, a Targa4 should not turn me on. But by God, this car confirms that I am a true car-o-sexual. Based on looks alone (a mistake), I’m so taken I believe my mother could find herself on the auction block if it meant I could end up with a Targa.
This rings even truer when it comes to the Targa GTS. Include distinctive physical add-ons, more power, a lowered ride height, many features, and an interior swathed in alcantara with sport seats and I’ll be hard pressed not to touch myself every time I walk up to the car.
Dr. Ferry Porsche once said, “It has always been a principle of our company that function and beauty are inseparable.”
I don’t recall coming across an ugly Porsche, ever. However, the 996 911 and 986 Boxster were not what I would consider beautiful. Where the Targa is concerned, not only is she a supermodel with her clothes on, but when she goes into bikini mode, traffic comes to a full halt.
The current 991 Targa is the latest in a long line of removable or retractable roof panels on a 911. Incidentally, the word “targa” means license plate in Italian, and also comes from the famous Targa Florio road race in which the first 904 GTS participated roughly 50 years ago. The 2016 Targa GTS comes full circle as the prettiest of the best.
For the love of alcantara
The Targa GTS’ interior accoutrements are essentially standard 911 fare. The principal difference is found in the abundance of one of the most sensual materials in the world: alcantara. This suede-like fabric covers the steering wheels, the 7-speed manual shift knob, the seats, dashboard, and (on a fixed-roof 911) all over the headliner.
The other principal difference is that a GTS comes pretty much fully loaded over an “S” car. The Sport Chrono package and Sport Exhaust are chief among the standard accessories that elevate the GTS standing within the 911 range -- a few notches below the GT3.
Luxurious ass-kicking abilities
The premise behind a GTS car is comfort mixed with styling and more performance. Although all three items could be seen as mutually exclusive, they are all blended into one car, and it’s called a GTS.
The 911 Targa GTS features the same 3.8L flat-6 found in the 911 S. Output is bumped to 430 horsepower (from 400) and 325 lb-ft of torque (same as the “S”). For fun, remember that the 996 Turbo’s mill produced 420 hp…
The numbers are scarcely more than the “S,” however, it’s the way the power comes on tap that differs. In Sport+, the slick 7-speed manual sprints to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds (4.8 for the S). The brilliant PDK manages to hit the ton in only 4.3 seconds (vs. 4.6 for the S w/PDK). Top speeds increase slightly, as well.
Get There Sooner
All Targa’s are equipped with Porsche’s AWD system without fail. The 911 Targa 4 GTS benefits from PTM (Porsche Traction Management) that actively feeds power to the wheels that will best aid in forward progress.
On the track, this system’s effectiveness is mind-blowing. I best experienced it while in a PDK-equipped Targa 4 GTS with Sport+ activated. The variation between the push-pull while accelerating from an apex is substantial yet subtle. The amount of confidence provided by the sheer level of mechanical and electronic grip screams, “Go faster!” And that Sport Exhaust sound is amazingly addictive! The throttle is alert and eager, and the brakes faultless: a recipe for pure, unadulterated fun.
If I had to make one semi-negative comment it would have to do with the extra weight over the front wheels from the AWD. Steering loses some of its hyper-tactility and it can be felt through the wheel. It is no less responsive; however, the purity of communication from the front axle is mildly blurred.
The PDK is the best automobile transmission in the world. Instinctively able to react, it downshifts, holds or pounds through gears without ever skipping a beat. I love being involved in the drive, but this ‘box is so spot on that shifting manually actually hampers progress.
From track to road
All Porsches are gifted with the ability to go from one dimension to the other. Despite the GTS’ severe track focus, it’s not noticeable on the road.
Out of the box, the Targa GTS’ ride height is 10mm lower than an “S.” What should normally affect ride quality is completely and perfectly modulated by Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM). The struts continuously monitor and regulate driving conditions and style, adapting damping forces instantaneously and precisely.
The price of seduction
Beautiful things seduce us all, and typically pretty things come with a price. In the Targa 4 GTS’ case, $151,500 will get you behind the wheel (as tested, roughly $165,000).
Unlike an expensive painting you hang on a wall, this piece of art pays you back with emotion, luxury, comfort, and serious performance. If the current going price for any vintage 911 is any indication, a Targa 4 GTS will likely appreciate over the coming decades.