Porsche 911 Targa Pros
- Targa design and roof still stunning
- Amazing performance in any version
- Sun in your face, but no wind
Porsche 911 Targa Cons
- Fairly hefty weight penalty in the Targa
- Stiffer ride than the convertible
- Same price as the convertible, but not really a convertible
For many enthusiasts, the Porsche 911 is the ultimate machine and the ultimate automotive dream. It’s the perfect sports car with the perfect combination of performance and daily usability. Owning a 911 one day is something many strive for while few current owners would choose not to buy another one. The car is just that good and everybody loves it, including journalists who despite faux gripes about added weight over the years would still do just about anything to own one.
Therefore, please do not expect too many negatives in this Porsche 911 Targa review. Chances are, if you are reading this, your mind is set on the 911 and honestly, there’s nothing I found during my week with the 2021 Targa 4 that would compel me to try and change your mind or steer your elsewhere. Now, you may be wondering if the Targa is the right choice. That would be understandable.
After all, there are already more 992 Porsche versions on the market than there are competitors to the 911, and we haven’t even seen the GTS yet. Wanting a 911 is easy, figuring which one to buy is the harder part.
Targa or Convertible?
The Porsche 911 Targa, with its automated top covering just the front seats, is a bridge between the hard tops and the convertibles, although pricing puts it neck and neck with the latter. At first glance, this seems a bit odd as you don’t get the full removable top experience and yet you aren’t saving any coin over a convertible.
Both start at $138,000 for the Carrera 4 and $156,100 for the Carrera 4S in Canada ($121,300 and $137,200 in the US, respectively). Both models have the same performance numbers as well, needing 4.4 seconds and 3.8 seconds to reach 100 km/h respectively (4.2 seconds and 3.6 seconds to 60 mph). The only difference is that in the Targa, the rear section covering the rear seats remains in place when the top is gone while the convertible gives you the full open-top experience.
Having driven both, here’s the general takeaway. The Targa feels a lot more open than a coupe with a sunroof and you catch a lot of rays in the front seats. That said, it doesn’t come close to the feeling you get in the traditional 911 convertible. You won’t feel the wind in your hair, nor will you feel exposed. There’s a lot of sun coming inside, but not as much as in a drop top.
For some, this means a more comfortable experience and it also means a longer summer season as you can remove the Targa’s roof in early Spring or early Fall, turn on the heater and not be cold. You can also carry a conversation with the top off in the Targa without having to speak up. The setup does compromise rear seat headroom however and you have to be quite small to spend any kind of extended period of time in the back in the Targa. It’s really just like the coupe back there.
If you like having the sun in your face but don’t like having the wind blow all around you, the Targa is the way to go. If you want the full convertible experience, you will be left wanting in the Targa. It’s not an easy decision to make, but also remind yourself that you can’t really go wrong here.
The Targa’s roof mechanism is identical to the 991 generation’s, and it still provides a heck of a show. It takes less than 20 seconds to operate and now features a sensor that will halt the process should it detect a wall or any other potential danger surrounding it. That wasn’t there in the previous Targa which meant you could easily break the glass panel if you weren’t minding your surroundings.
How does the Porsche 911 Targa Drive?
Our Targa 4 tester was equipped with the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-six that delivers 379 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. The 4S features the same engine, but power is bumped to 443 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. It’s a steep premium to upgrade to the 4S and if you are wondering if it is worth it, the answer in direct terms is yes. The difference in performance, acceleration, even engine sound is enough to justify it. However, the 992 generation is an awesome performer in any trim and the current Targa 4 delivers near-identical performance to the outgoing Targa 4S. So, please do not feel like you are compromising with a 4 and ultimately, with speed limits waiting on every street, it is more than enough.
On the other hand, the Targa 4S (like the Carrera S and Carrera 4S) can be equipped with a 7-speed manual which the Targa 4 doesn’t offer. As we noted in a previous 911 Carrera S coupe review, this manual is one of the best if not the best in the industry. A 911 with a manual is a brilliant choice and it’s more than worth the extra money for the 4S to experience it.
As for how the Targa 4 feels on the road, firstly we must talk weight. All the extra bits and pieces add up to a fairly hefty 3,765 pounds. Drive a coupe and a Targa back-to-back and you will notice the difference, although on its own the Targa never feels heavy. But, if you’re wondering if the Targa delivers coupe-like driving dynamics with the added benefit of some fun in the sun, the answer is no. On the other hand, it feels stiffer than the convertible which Porsche engineers understand is more for cruising. The 911 remains a very comfortable machine given its level of performance, but it still reminds you of its sportiness when going over bumps and potholes, the Targa more so than the coupe or convertible. There’s a slight vibration coming through the steering wheel on really bad surfaces that I didn’t remember feeling in the coupe.
Still, the 911 Targa is my personal favourite in the lineup and has been since the new roof mechanism was introduced. I like that it feels more like a coupe than a convertible and I like knowing I can still remove the top in October should winter be delayed a bit. I also like the fact that you don’t really see many of them, making it one of the most exclusive versions of an already exclusive car. For all of those reasons, I’d highly recommend the 911 Targa. I’d go with the 4S for the manual, but if you don’t want to change gears yourself, the 4 is just fine.
As for the options, always an important consideration at Porsche, the sport exhaust, Sport Chrono pack, and front-axle lift system are mandatory for me. The rest is up to your personal preferences but don’t be too worried about the price going up as 911s hold their value more than just about any other vehicle available for sale today.