David Errington gets to grips with the Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS…
Pull the door handle, let the window drop and swing the door out. Climb into the delicious and aromatic half leather-half Alcantara interior and GTS embroidered sports seat, closing the door and feeling cocooned, yet having plenty elbow room. The 991 generation is a comfortable car, but retains its hardcore sports pedigree.
Plug the key into the dashboard, slightly above your right knee, and twist. What comes next is the bark of the 430 bhp flat-six engine sat over the rear axle. As the revs fall from start-up, the motor settles into a metallic thrum. Pull the PDK gear leaver toward you, into drive and apply a gentle pressure to move away. It isn’t intimidating in the slightest.
My first lap of the Hill Route at Millbrook Proving Ground was enough to tell me the limits of which I could push the car. Even then, I knew the car still had much more to give. Without any of the chassis settings set to Sport, the 911 rides comfortably and isn’t tiring when riding over rougher surfaces. Press the Sport Plus button and you feel the core of the car tighten up, fed back through your lower abdomen.
Sport Plus chassis setting engaged, lets loose the euphoric sound of the 3.8 litre, flat-six, through the sports exhaust system as you plunge your toes into the beautiful wool carpet, and the engine rips round to the 7,800 rpm redline.
Of course, with such an eager car, the brakes will have to be competent enough to deal with the urgency of which the 911 boasts. Porsche have nailed braking systems, and this test car was fitted with standard cast-iron anchors, which did not at any point lead me to doubt my confidence under my right (or sometimes left foot). After a squirt of power, a measured squeeze of the brakes tells you all you need to know about how much pressure is needed and where the car will be when you release, allowing you to point the nose into the next corner.
With just over 50 years in the making, Porsche have had a better chance than anybody else at creating the perfect sports car – the only controversial issue, being the fitment of the electro-mechanical steering rack to the 991 (which really isn’t much of an issue). For a system controlled by computer technology, it does a very good job of mimicking a natural feel and weight. This allows you to carry the car through corners while making any necessary corrections on the throttle. The balance of the 911 is sublime. However, should the front feel a little light, simply push some of the weight forward by resting your left foot on the brake pedal and peel away as you exit and feed in the power. The grip the 911 exudes is communicated as you feel it squat into the tarmac, after pouring the front axle into a corner.
The PDK gearbox is faultless. Changes are executed at the crack of the whip and are smooth as the cogs slot into one another. Drop a couple of gears for the approaching hairpin and hear the raspy motor erupt with pops and burbles, also audible on a trailing throttle. Some may argue a manual gearbox is best, and I tend to agree. There is nothing quite like a heel and toe down-change through a Porsche gearbox. On track however, I can’t say I missed it as much as I thought I would. It really is that good.
Disengaging Sport mode at high speed, the Targa GTS remains comfortable and NVH levels are low. A pleasant experience from the sports car leaves you confident the 911 is perfectly capable of driving to and across Europe. Sat at motorway speed at a little over 1,500 rpm, the 911 gives you an indication to how effortless PDK is.
The GTS model was designed to bridge the gap between the Carrera S and the GT3. I have not driven the 991 GT3, but I have driven the Carrera S a couple of times. Making the comparison, I can indeed say the 911 GTS is a successful step up. Whether or not it truly sits in the middle or not, remains for me to see. On that note, I feel the GTS is a more focused and soulful character.
Engine Size: 3.8 litre, flat-six, 24 valve, rear-mounted
Top Speed: 187 mph
Power: 430 bhp @ 7,500 rpm
Torque: 325 lb ft
Transmission: 7-speed PDK
Driven Wheels: All-wheel drive
0-62 mph: 4.3 seconds
Combined MPG: 30.7
Width: 1,852 mm
Height: 1,291 mm
Kerb Weight: 1,650 kg
OTR Price: £107, 202
Star Rating: * * * * *