2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS Review

Watching part of the 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS’s trick roof lift high into the air in a complicated mechanical manoeuvre, I couldn’t help but think this novelty roof is over-engineered.

All of this mechanical production just to store a small canvas portion of the roof? Unnecessary complexity at its finest and completely superfluous, the Porsche Targa should not be defined by its trick roof. Or maybe it should. Because in my opinion, the Targa is the best body configuration of the 911 GTS.

SEE ALSO: Porsche 911 Turbo S Cab vs Jaguar F-Type V8 S

How exactly can a purpose-built sports car that adds 198 pounds of weight be the best configuration? Weighing 3,483 pounds as tested, the Targa 4 GTS isn’t all that light. Zero to 60 times suffer, increasing to 4.1 seconds compared to the GTS Coupe’s 3.8-second time and the higher center of gravity does the Targa no favors when taking a corner.

But spend some time behind the wheel of the 2016 Targa, and these differences are negligible and unnoticeable. It still drives, sounds and feels like a 911 Carrera 4 GTS. The Targa just comes with a host of other benefits.


Classic Targa Style

The most obvious benefit is the classic Targa style. When the roof is panel is retracted, the 911 looks straight out of 1978 with its one piece wraparound rear window and contrasting center hoop complete with throwback grooves and badging. Even when the roof is up, the Targa looks fantastic; it has a certain presence missing compared to the 911 coupe, but it also doesn’t look slightly awkward like the 911 cabriolet.

And the Targa design has other benefits as well. The giant wraparound rear window increases visibility exponentially. For a car that houses its engine behind the rear axle and stores a roof panel on top of it, rear-ward visibility is tremendous.


GTS Power

And a lot of objects, mainly other cars, will end up behind the Targa GTS, thanks to a 3.8-liter six-cylinder that unleashes 430 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque. What could possibly be one of the last naturally aspirated engines in a 911, the flat-six delivers decent low end torque that builds into an avalanche of power as it approaches the 7,800 rpm redline.

A manic mechanical resonance erupts at full boil that is unmistakably Porsche. It will be interesting to see how the new family of small displacement turbo engines behave and sound in the new 911s as part of the appeal has always been the frantic high-revving nature of these horizontally opposed engines.

Like pretty much any 911, the Targa 4 GTS is available with a choice of seven-speed transmission. Standard is a seven-speed manual, while the dual-clutch semi-automatic is optional. For evaluation, I received a Targa sporting the PDK dual clutch transmission that is just as fast, direct and intuitive as ever. Still, I do prefer the seven-speed manual for the GTS. It raises the car to another level and even offers automated rev-matching downshifts so even non three pedal masters can still get the most out of the car.


Serious About Performance

The mechanical makeup of the 911 GTS chassis is impressive. Chew on some of these numbers: Up front are 13.4-inch brake rotors squeezed by six piston calipers and in the back, there are four piston units. The tires measure 245/35R20 up front and a mammoth 305/30R20 in the rear. That’s a lot of tire for a car that still weighs less than 3,500 pounds and makes 430 hp.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Review

Porsche wanted to give the GTS superb handling and it shows when pushing the 911 hard through some corners. The torque vectoring all-wheel-drive system combined with decades of rear-engine chassis development has paid off, as the 911 isn’t just a grip monster, but also wholly predictable. Would the extra weight of the Targa be felt on the track? Probably, and I bet the car would be a few tenths of a second slower. But in everyday driving, even spirited driving, the extra weight is unnoticeable.


Sports Car or Grand Tourer?

For all the performance and style that oozes out of the Targa GTS, there’s still a level of luxury inside the car that’s expected in modern 911s. Loaded up in my less than stringent Targa 4 GTS were features like heated and cooled seats, full leather interior and 18-way adjustable seats. This helps drive the price of the 911 Targa 4 GTS up from an already hefty starting figure of $133,795 to an as tested price of $151,405 after destination charges.

The inside of the Targa doesn’t differ too much from the hardtop. There is still a 5.3-cubic-foot frunk and four seats in the passenger cabin. The storage shelf behind the rear seats does disappear in favor of storing the targa roof panel and is replaced by tiny nooks behind the rear seats. Fitting two sets of golf clubs in the Targa is a much harder task than with the hardtop. But at least with the roof down, passengers can get all the vitamin D sunshine they want.


The Verdict: 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS Review

The Targa is an interesting 911 proposition that’s more than just a frivolous, over-engineered removable roof panel. It’s a livable sports car that features great looks, fun in the sun driving as well as all year around usability. If it’s a hardcore, track ready 911 you’re after, then a GT3 or Turbo is what you should get. The Targa 4 GTS is more of a pricey, everyday sports car that looks great wherever it goes.