2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4: Here’s to (Almost) Perfect Compromises

Strong points
  • Extraordinary engine and transmission
  • Stellar handling
Weak points
  • Complicated infotainment system
  • Price tag can get very high fast very fast
Full report

As the 911 gets better and better with every generation, it manages to keep its identity and DNA. And, from time to time, a Targa model pops up and squeezes itself between the multiple coupe and convertible offerings inside the 911’s prestigious lineup, offering discerning buyers an alternative of debatable relevancy.

We took the new 2021 Porsche Targa 4 out for a week of driving to ascertain how it carried-over every upgrade from the 992 generation, but also to evaluate its relevance amidst the coupes and convertibles.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

Surgical Driving Dynamics

Pushing our Targa 4 was the 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder Boxster engine, which dishes out 379 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. The S variant outputs 64 horsepower and 59 lb-ft of torque more than the Targa base model, but will also run you an additional $18,000. However, in Porsche dollars, this is somewhat worth it. Considering everything from expensive coloured seatbelts to stellar-priced alloy wheels, the Porsche options catalog welcomes you like a high roller in a VIP lounge. It’s a no-limits kind of experience. Thus, the price per additional pony is somewhat relative.

Our tester was equipped with the marvellously well-calibrated eight-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) that you can command using the steering-column-mounted paddle shifters. The Targa is also available with a seven-speed manual gearbox for a do-it-yourself shifting experience. Although our 911 enthusiast hearts always lean towards a good ole manual gearbox, the driving experience supplied by the PDK is exhilarating in Normal mode. In Sport+ mode, it’s nothing less than euphorically intoxicating. The Targa is exclusively offered with the Porsche AWD system, so this PDK feeds all four wheels.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

As it should, the Targa 4’s steering is of surgical precision. The feedback is instantly present, giving the driver the feel of the road at all times to such an extent that it takes confident hands to keep the wheel in check on rough pavement or on roads with imperfections. The AWD system makes coming out of corners easier and somewhat forgiving, making for a pavement-gripping experience.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

A Top-Notch Interior (with Some Hiccups)

Porsche is serious about fit and finish in the cabin and the Targa 4 is a great representation of this. The digital cluster is a great evolution in this generation, not only because it recreates the shapes that we know and love, but also because Porsche kept the analog tachometer, which gives us a convincing blend of old and new. Seating is supportive enough for short, spirited drives, but also sufficiently plush for long hauls. Evidently, if you want to let the sunshine in, simply press the button in the dashboard and the top retracts neatly in the rear.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

In the centre console, the commands are at the right place (for the most part). The shift lever is located in the middle of several flat buttons, but Porsche did take care to leave some lever action switches for that vintage feel.

As far as infotainment goes, the Porsche system is still overly complicated to some extent. In addition, the dashboard design seems to make the lower part of the screen difficult to access. You will need finesse and a thin finger.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

Like many other recent Porsche vehicles, the Targa 4 is equipped with an overly enthusiastic start/stop system that often kills the engine before the car is even totally immobilized. Once that’s done, moving your foot just slightly on the brake pedal can jolt it back to life and off again. It’s an irritating feature, but can be disengaged my moving to Sport or Sport+ mode or by changing the settings in the infotainment system (which reset every time you shut down the car).

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

Why Buy a Targa ?

The Targa is heavier (110 pounds more than a 4 convertible and 154 pounds more than a coupe), while more expensive than the coupe and the same price as the convertible. Most of all, the vehicle isn’t a full-blown convertible or coupe. Aside from saving yourself a bucket of money, the Targa seems like a questionable choice.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

However, for gearhead purposes, here are two reasons to buy this vehicle. First, every 911 seams to bear the “future classic”, but to have a 911 named after the 1950’s Sicilian road race Targa Florio is always a shining advantage for collectors and show-offs alike. The other reason is the one we concluded from this test drive, which is: if you don’t like the bathtub look of a full blown convertible, but still want to be able to open your car to the world at the touch of a button while retaining that coupe look, the Targa is (almost) a perfect compromise.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

NewsNew Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design is the Cherry on Top
Porsche is a sports car manufacturer with plenty of tradition that lives on through a number of special editions. The latest example is the new 2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design, the first of four collector's models from the brand’s Heritage Design strategy. Crafted by the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur …
New Models2021 Porsche 911 Targa Models are Coming
A Targa variant of the next-generation Porsche 911 (992) is being introduced for the 2021 model year. This type of body style—with a removable roof and fixed rear window—is pretty rare nowadays. The only other cars to offer one are the Mazda MX-5 RF and to some extent the Chevrolet …
NewsThe Car Guide's Best Buys for 2021: Porsche 911
Every year, The Car Guide unveils a list of Best Buys covering all the different vehicle categories in the industry. Luxury sports cars are high-performance models, and the top ones have legions of die-hard enthusiasts. For 2021, our Best Buy award goes to the quintessential sports car: the Porsche 911 …
NewsPorsche's New Infotainment System Will be Music to Your Ears
A clear illustration that technology is taking over the automobile, Porsche this week introduced its all-new infotainment system with much fanfare as if it were the debut of a brand new sports car. A number of hosts, experts and company executives were on hand—in a futuristic setting to boot—to talk …
News2022 Porsche 911 GTS Gets 473 Hp, Lightweight Package
New GTS models are finally joining the other members of the eighth-generation (992) Porsche 911 , offering more power and style than before. They come in Coupe and Cabriolet variants with either RWD or AWD, as well as a Targa configuration (AWD only). Let’s start with the turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-six …
Test Drives2022 Porsche 911 GT3: Exhilarating Times at Circuit Mont-Tremblant
The new Porsche 911 GT3 sports car was developed with the help of Porsche’s motorsport team. It continues to be powered by the fabulous, naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six engine with a 9,000-rpm redline, but gets a double-wishbone front suspension derived from the Le Mans-winning Porsche 911 RSR. We spent several …
Comments