Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS Review
- Published On: 4 October 2017
- 7 min read
Here is our drive of the latest Targa iteration of the Porsche 911. However, this time around the model gets the GTS treatment.
The 911 is one of the most versatile sportscars in the world. Not only that, it is a result of over 50 years of development from racing around the world, the 911 is race-bred and loves to be driven hard. Which means driving the car on a race track is an absolute must, and we did just that. If we didn’t, it would be like going to Agra and not visiting the Taj Mahal.
The first thing that was in order was to set the navigation route to Killarney Raceway, a race track 30km away from the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town – which was the hub for the media drive of Porsche’s latest 911 GTS. The GTS moniker stands for Grand Touring Sport, which according to the German sportscar maker combines sportiness with comfort. The GTS models of the 911 range sit between the regular Carrera and the track-oriented GT3 models.
Interestingly, the GTS treatment is offered in every possible variant of the 911. The GTS can be ordered in Coupe, Cabriolet or Targa body styles, with the option of a manual or automatic transmission, and either two- or four-wheel drive. Every GTS 911 gets the wider body (also seen on the Carrera 4 and the Turbo) and a tuned-up version of the twin-turbo flat-six engine that develops 450hp, a gain of 30hp over the regular Carrera S. GTS models also feature 20-inch centre locking wheels, sports exhaust, a lowered sports suspension, limited slip differential, torque vectoring, active engine mounts and optional active rear wheel steering.
On the inside, the Alcantara treatment on the steering wheel, seats and gear lever which not only look and feel great, they also help the insides stand out. GTS badges and dark bits in the interior keep the car in line with its purposeful character. The exhaust, wheels and badges are all black and the taillights have a smoked tint to them as well.
First thing on the cards was to drive to Killarney Raceway in peak rush-hour traffic in Cape Town. We drove the Cabriolet variant with the PDK gearbox, Porsche’s CEO for the Middle East and Africa, Deesch Papke also came along for company. The ease with which the GTS inched through traffic and a good chat on all things Porsche led the hour-long journey to go by smoothly. The low-profile tyres on the 20 inch wheels and the sporty suspension didn’t feel all that uncomfortable, the car could still be driven daily.
The well-loved PDK transmission was smooth and shifted through its ratios like a family sedan. The clutch however, engaged a bit aggressively as it moved off from a stop. What we really liked is that, even in its GTS avatar, the 911 is a very usable car. Upon finally reaching Killarney we knew this is where we would get to know the GTS variant closely.
The automatic transmission (in Normal mode) was impressively slick and except for the clutch, which engaged a bit sharply, moving off from a standstill. It’s good to know that, even in GTS guise, the 911 Carrera is a very usable, everyday car, but that’s not what it was created for. The Killarney Raceway is more the 911 Carrera’s natural habitat and over six hot laps I would get to know this new GTS version very closely.
For the track session, we were in a Carrera 4 GTS Coupe with a manual gearbox. Upon hitting the first corner of the first lap, the dynamic abilities of the 911 GTS instantly excel. The infamous electrically assisted steering was accurate and well-weighted; it could even let a novice driver place the car anywhere on the circuit with exactness. Thanks to the active rear axle, the car pivots its fat rear helping to nail every apex spot on. The Pirelli P Zero Corsa UHP tyres add an astonishing level of grip to cement the GTS to the track. Under hard acceleration, the front goes light, it’s a 911 handling characteristic that hasn’t changed in years. Not only is it something you get used to, it can even be used to your advantage by going faster into corners. One can also instantly tell that this is a car which prefers precise steering and throttle inputs to aggressive driving.
Putting your foot down on the long straight and the car produces an amazing exhaust note all the way to the redline. The car has close to no turbo lag, there was only one hint of hesitation when powering out of the slow hairpin. On the back straight, the massive performance saw me touching 240kph effortlessly; the brakes were equally impressive in slowing me down for the next corner. The 911 is a precision driver’s car and can reward the pro driver more than any other sportscar.
The next day we drove the Targa 4 GTS with an automatic gearbox. We drove to Signal Hill on the outskirts of Cape Town where the road ends in a car park with a magnificent view of the Indian and Atlantic oceans. What we were more interested in was the last 4km of winding road that had some nice corners and next-to-no traffic.
All GTS variants get four drive modes (including a customisable one) that can be selected via a dial on the steering wheel, first seen in the 918 Spyder. The GTS also has a Sport Response mode that gives an extra dose of power for around 20 seconds which is fun to play with. The cars also get the Sports Chrono Package as standard.
Folding the Targa roof away only increased the drama, the exhaust note sounded crisp and the sense of speed was heightened with tall trees zooming past my head. Even in the sportiest suspension setting, the ride didn’t feel harsh. The responsive steering and quick turn-in makes the GTS a joy on any curvy road. The grippy 305/30R20 rubber meant one can get on the power quite early, way before the apex. The GTS is a very confidence inspiring rear-engine car – not any rear-engine car, but a 911.
Should I buy one?
Porsche does not have any immediate plans to launch the GTS variant in India, which will no doubt be significantly more expensive than the standard 911. The GTS is incredibly driver-focused and will take on the Buddh circuit without a fuss, and then ride you home through Delhi’s traffic. The car is a good long-distance cruiser and makes a good noise while doing so too. But, the truth is, Indian roads and traffic simply won’t allow for the GTS to be enjoyed to its fullest potential here, but it’s still a hugely compelling package. It is truly a sportscar for every occasion.