by John Tallodi
Porsche's burgeoning 911 range offers many alternatives to the standard Carrera models, the GTS range sits in the middle of this hierarchy and has some of the finer items on the extensive options list with a few unique features of its own too.
Power and performance levels hit the sweet spot between the base models and the full-fat Turbo cars, and with the Targa 4 GTS you also get a crowd-stopping foldable roof section that in itself offers a middle ground between the coupe and cabriolet models.
The Targa variants are no different inside to their coupe and convertible counterparts, fit and finish is extremely good and the front seats are comfortable and cosseting in true Porsche tradition. The recently revised infotainment system controls most of the major and minor functions although the center console still features a number of buttons for the more commonly accessed features.
The folding metal Targa roof is cleverly packaged but it does take up a fair bit of space and the rear seats are a tight fit for anyone tall enough to get on the rollercoaster at the fairground.
The clever folding roof does add a fair bit of heft and the Targa 4 GTS is closer in curb weight to the Cabriolet models than the Coupe. The handling is still incisive though and few drivers would notice any difference on the road. The wider track and all-wheel drive system give the Targa 4 GTS serious traction out of corners, the steering is accurate too and the uprated brakes (over the standard Carrera models) are powerful and remain fade free even after repeated heavy use.
Refinement levels are high and the ride remains firm but comfortable even with the large 20-inch standard wheels. The most intrusive noise that permeates the cabin comes from the wide tires that make themselves heard over coarse surfaces.
The powertrain is shared with the rest of the GTS range and it is the now familiar 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-6 engine which produces 450 horsepower (30 more than in the Targa S) and 405 lb-ft of torque in this application. This model is all-wheel drive and either a 7-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission can be optioned.
The PDK transmission gets the Targa 4 GTS to 60 mph in 3.5-seconds, one tenth of the coupe but identical to the cabriolet. The manual gearbox adds some driver involvement although it takes an extra 0.4-seconds to get to 60 mph.
Fuel consumption figures also favor the PDK equipped cars, as they offer 20 mpg in city driving as opposed to 18 mpg. Both achieve 26 mpg in highway driving. Both acceleration off the line and in-gear pick up is excellent for the class and you will have to look a lot further up the sports car pecking order to improve on these numbers.
The Targa 4 GTS is very similar to the slightly cheaper Targa 4S although with PASM sport suspension, Sport Chrono Pack, sports exhaust, sport design bumper, sport seats and the Carrera S Powerkit. It does however offer GTS specific features too such as center-locking Turbo S style 20-inch alloy wheels, embroidered headrests and slightly less vital GTS decals. Optioning these items individually will also cost more than just choosing the Targa 4 GTS in the first place.
Aside from these differences the rest of the standard features mirror the Targa 4S' offerings. Notable items include 2-zone climate control, 4-way power front sport seats, park assist front and rear with reversing camera, touchscreen infotainment system with integrated Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity as well as a hard drive music storage system.
Premium Packages add a number of additional luxury items such as LED headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, 1-way power sport seats or 18-way adaptive units, front seat heating and ventilation, keyless entry and ambient LED lighting.
The iconic Targa bar can also be painted in contrasting silver and there is a range of body colors and bespoke customization options too.
Standalone options include a rear wiper (the rear window is glass), ceramic composite brakes a variable steering system and interior trims in Alcantara, leather, carbon fiber and Aluminum finishes.
The eminently capable Porsche 911 may already be more than enough for most but the well-positioned GTS models add another layer to the driving experience that may well be worth the price.
The clever roof on the Targa 4 GTS looks good whether it is up or down and refinement and performance levels are still excellent.