As pretty as a painting
Sounds like a dream
A car for people who know how to have fun
Complicated kit
Lacklustre acceleration
Expensive options

The Clarkson review: Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS (2015)

Common sense, pah. Look at this tasty Porsche Pudding

More Info

The Clarkson review: Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS

Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS, £104,385

ANYONE who buys anything for practical reasons is almost certainly a bore with a cardigan, a no-feet-on-the-furniture rule and so much time on their hands they can spend an entire afternoon reading online reviews of dishwashers.

Browse the used Porsches for sale on driving.co.uk

Who can be bothered to write an online review of a dishwasher? They’re all the same. They’re white and boxy, and after they’ve finished making your dishes clean they issue a succession of beeps, telling you they must be emptied instantly, even if you are watching Game of Thrones and someone’s just got their kit off.

I hate Which? magazine. I hate every single thing it does and every single thing it stands for. I hate having to share a planet with people whose job is to test kettles. And I hate, even more, people who read their findings before deciding what sort to buy. It’s an effing kettle, for God’s sake. Just buy the blue one.

I keep being told there are now better phones on the market than an iPhone, and I’m not interested. Yes, they may have better cameras and battery life and they may sort pictures by where they were taken rather than when (which is idiotic), but an iPhone looks nicer and that’s the most important thing. I hate people who don’t have iPhones.

I also hate people who buy Kias, because they did not use any emotion at all when making their purchasing decision. They read road tests, doubtless in Which? magazine. They looked at online reliability surveys. And possibly even made comparative resale charts on the kitchen table. People such as this should be sent to prison.

There’s nothing wrong with a Kia. They’re good cars. But nobody’s buying them because they’re good. They’re buying them because of some finance deal or some extended warranty package. Which is why, whenever I’m pulling up behind a Kia at a set of red traffic lights, I’m tempted to run into the back of it on purpose. To punish the chap behind the wheel. Who will then have to spend the next two months of his life researching injury lawyers to find what firm would be best at convincing a judge that he really does have whiplash.

The Clarkson review: Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS

All of which brings me on to yet another review of the Porsche 911. There are many models in the current range, and if you ask a 911 enthusiast to talk you through the subtle differences between each, you can be sure that by the end of the conversation one of you will be dead. Because either you will kill him to shut him up, or you will kill yourself.

All you need to know is this. If you have any common sense at all you will buy the Carrera S, because if you buy anything more exotic than that you are wasting your money. Happily, from Porsche’s point of view, most of its customers don’t have any common sense and almost all of them think their lives will be enriched if they buy a 911 with no roof, or with four-wheel drive, or with a turbo or with some scaffolding in the back.

The result: Porsche made more money last year from selling almost 190,000 cars than its parent company, Volkswagen, made from selling more than 4.5m.

Do you really think it costs £401 to paint the instrument dials yellow, or £170 to make the key fob the same colour as the car? Do you think it costs £5,787 to fit ceramic brake discs? Well, it doesn’t. And if you tick that box on the order form, you are being milked.

And good for you. Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine because you were up till three the previous night enjoying “just one more bottle”.

There is acceleration, for sure, and anyone from the 1970s would describe it as vivid. But today?

All of which brings me back to the car I’m reviewing. It’s called the 911 Targa 4 GTS. Which means that it comes with unnecessary four-wheel drive, a massively complicated sunroof and wheels that can be removed only by someone with a degree in engineering. Not that you’ll ever need to remove them because there’s no spare.

The GTS badge means this car is fitted with a collection of options that are available individually on the normal Carrera Targa 4. And if you had all the time in the world, and a calculator, you could work out whether or not they represent good value. Knowing Porsche, I have a hunch they don’t.

To drive? Hmm. Well, because of the massively complicated sunroof, this car is quite heavy, a point that becomes obvious shortly after you’ve put the exhaust in Sport mode, said to your passenger, “Watch this”, and put your foot down. There is acceleration, for sure, and anyone from the 1970s would describe it as vivid. But today? It feels a bit lacklustre, to be honest.

It’s much the same story in the corners. Because the Targa is more softly sprung than other 911s, and because this one has four-wheel drive, it’s not quite as exciting as you might imagine. It’s a long, long way from spongy, but it’s pointing in that direction.

The Clarkson review: Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS

There’s more, I’m afraid. When you want to open the sunroof, it’s like a scene from Thunderbirds. The whole car splits in half, palm trees lie flat, swimming pools fold away and, after a little while, everything goes back together again. Except now the bit of canvas that was above your head is stowed behind what are laughably called the rear seats.

Not since the BMW Z1 with its drop-down doors have I seen such a complex solution to such a simple problem. And to make matters worse, as with all Targas the noise and the buffeting when you drive along with the roof stowed is, shall we say, noticeable. No, let’s not. Let’s be honest and say horrid.

When you want to open the sunroof, it’s like a scene from Thunderbirds. The whole car splits in half, palm trees lie flat, swimming pools fold away and, after a little while, everything goes back together again

And I don’t care. I like the idea of the GTS because GTS sounds good. And I like the Targa because it looks fabulous. The back window with that brushed- aluminium hoop is style at its best. Yes, it makes the car heavy, puddingy, slow and noisy, but those are things that trouble only the weak and the foolish.

Put it this way. You can go skiing in Aviemore, which is close by and the locals speak an approximation of English. Or you can go to St Moritz. You can fill yourself up when you’re hungry with a cheese sandwich or you can eat out. You can live in Huddersfield or you can live in San Francisco. Why not live as well as you can?

And why allow practicalities to stick their awkward noses into the equation? If you do, you won’t buy a 911 Targa. It has too many drawbacks. But if you don’t, you end up with a car that looks nice.

Let me put it this way: when you buy a painting, do you go for something that fits in a particular space? Or one you like looking at?


Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS specifications
  • Price: £104,385
  • Engine: 3900cc, 4 cylinders
  • Power: 424bhp
  • Torque: 324lb ft
  • Transmission: 7-speed manual
  • Performance: 0-62mph: 4.7sec
  • Top speed: 188mph
  • Fuel: 28.2mpg (combined)
  • CO2: 237g/km
  • Road tax band: L (£870 for the first year; £490 thereafter)
  • Release date: On sale now


Browse the used Porsches for sale on driving.co.uk