Its Ironic that Porsche, one of the world’s greatest sports car manufactures, names one of its least sporty cars after one of the world’s greatest road races. Yes, there’s always been something a bit wishy-washy about the Targa.
This latest version is better though. The 996 Targa felt baggy, the sliding roof rattled a little bit in the rails-it certainly wasn’t what you’d expect of a 911.But in this face-lifted 997, things are much better. The whole car feels as rigid as coupe, which is impressive, given the size of the glass area in the roof. There’s absolutely no rattle from it, and it doesn't feel like there’s lot of weight up there, despite the Targa being a whole 60kg heavier than normal coupe.
Porsche tells us that the fabric roll cover that slides across inside the roof is new, but it’s difficult to tell for sure. It still works fine, and it still blocks out most of the sunlight so you don’t scorch your bounce. The ‘new’ roof still slides in the same way as the old one a single button drops it below the rear window and completely obliterates your rear view. And the Targa is still the most practical 911 because the rear glass opens like hatchback. There’s 230 liters of luggage space with seats folded but the Targa 4 S driving experience is where the Targa package falls apart slightly. The 4 S is missing too much of that 911 soul-you don’t get that classic rear-engined squatting roll through a corner for instance. The steering feels bit dead in your hands.
The 4 S simply feels like a really fast car. The Porsche precision is still there, but some of feel and delicacy that used to make these cars the sport cars to have has been knocked back. Granted, our 4 S has the counter-intuitive PDK gearbox and I’m nit- picking, but the general impression I get is not the ultimate drive that porches used to guarantee. Even if this is a Targa.
The engine note has also been tamed, so you can’t really hear the classic flat-six noise behind you. It now sounds far better from outside.
All of this is huge shame. Every Porsche enthusiast has moaned that character has been taken out of them since the demise of the air–cooled engine, but that never used to matter because the driving experience was so spot-on. Now though, it’s less so with the new double-clutch gear box. The Targa never had the Porsche perfection, never but this variant is now simply the rule, not the exception.