First Drive: 2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Review

The 992 911 Targa 4S is here...
18th August 2020
Laura Thomson


As I tipped into the mist-filled Valley of the Racehorse, it seemed an appropriate place to be putting the new Porsche 911 4S Targa through its paces. Treading through the quaint town of Lambourn, two eager greyhounds emerged from a front gate, followed by a sleek pair of racehorses further ahead. Fitting indeed, and I was delighted to find that the roads were are fast and polished as the valley’s agile inhabitants, and indeed my steed for the day.

The latest of its kind to join the Porsche family, the 992 911 Targa 4S cut a fine silhouette atop the rolling Berkshire Downs. Translated, that name means the eighth generation 911, Targa bodied, all-wheel-drive, Sport model.

The roll-loop variant 911 has historically debuted a year after its standard coupe sibling, and the 992 has been no exception. We tested the standard 992 911 Carrera S last year, and jumped at the opportunity to climb inside the Targa 4S at the COVID-compliant UK launch.

There will be three versions, all of which are all-wheel-drive. There’s the standard Targa 4, costing just shy of £100,000, the £109,725 Targa 4S and the 4S Heritage Design edition, which will be priced from £136,643.

We like

  • PDK double-clutch gearbox is fast and responsive
  • ‘Sport Response’ brings 20 seconds of maximum attack from the powertrain
  • All-wheel-drive means even greater all-weather usability

We don't like

  • Cabin was surprisingly creaky
  • Nearly £100k for a base Targa is a fair sum indeed
  • Penalty for the Targa is an extra 110kg



Porsche’s Targa is a design that has lasted the test of time. Originally a mid-1960’s solution to America’s stringent roll-over regulations, it caught on – unlike other manufacturers’ answers (for example BMW’s Baur) – and now has a legion of devoted fans. Named after the Italian road race where Porsche has seen considerable success, the Targa accounted for roughly 10 per cent of UK sales of the seventh generation 911.

Aside from the obvious, it’s visually identical to the standard 911, with the distinctive lightweight aluminium and steel composite body, which Porsche claim was ‘completely new’ for the 2019 992. New? Maybe. Iconic? Most certainly, for while the exterior may have been updated, it retains many of the design cues for which a 911 is recognisable a mile off.

Features such as the bumper air intakes with active cooling flaps and air blades, an auto-deploying rear spoiler and an eye-catching engine cover grille, are a nod towards its performance focus, while the automatically retracting door-handles are a nice little aero luxury.  

While previous Targas have digressed from the original roll bar and wrap around rear window, since 2011, the C-pillarless design has been back in fashion. And in this latest model is no exception, with a design echoing that of its first forebear, including a huge expanse of curved glass. Previously, the only option when it came to the Targa hoop was a polished aluminium finish, very much in keeping with the historic models. However, since the last generation, satin black has been optional on the standard model and standard on the GTS variant. Our test model was finished in a Carerra White Metallic (an £876 option).

Performance and Handling


It goes without saying that this car is remarkably quick, its flat-six heaving with the might of almost 450 horses. Its wet mode trumps most cars’ sport modes and its power far exceeds the national limit through Berkshire’s sleepy back roads. To truly put its comprehensive performance to the test would require a wide, open track or a quiet stretch of autobahn. Unfortunately I had neither at my disposal, but the wide variety of roads and traffic conditions near to Porsche’s HQ gave me ample opportunity to test it under daily driving conditions.

Its 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six engine puts out precisely 450PS (331kW) and a maximum torque of 530Nm, resulting in a 0-62mph sprint of 3.6 seconds, facilitated by the silky smooth eight-speed PDK double-clutch gearbox. The ultimate top speed of 189mph is just 1mph less than its coupe compadre, despite the 110kg weight gain. Put your foot down and momentarily hear the turbo spooling before it catapults you forward, the gearbox doing a fine job of shifting, with the flappy paddles there should you wish to intervene.

Power is distributed between the front and rear wheels at an ever-variable rate via Porsche’s all-wheel-drive system (with never more than 50 per cent going to the front), optimising grip come rain or shine. The car feels well planted and turns in with precision, the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) system’s electronic rear differential enhancing stability and dynamics yet further.

On paper, the switchable (via a button above the gearshift) Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control – a £2,273 option – active roll stabilisation suppresses lateral body movement during cornering manoeuvres for more neutral handling and a comfortable ride. In reality it doesn’t make much difference unless you’re absolutely throwing the car about, in which case you’d want the car to be at its most taught. But the appeal of a softer set-up will be understandably appealing, especially in a car such as the Targa, where comfort, rather than outright pace, is key.

Turning it up on the mode dial, from wet to normal to sport to Sportplus, enhances the throttle response and dials back electronic intervention. The latter is designed for sheer performance, while Sport, with its spitting and crackling exhaust note (aided by the £1,844 sports exhaust system), was my happy place for the day. A final option of Sportplus individual allows the driver to configure it to their own personal preferences.

In the middle of the mode dial sits a mysterious button, which when pressed summons the fury of Hades. Okay, maybe not quite, but reminiscent of the racing games of my childhood, for 20 seconds the Sports Response mode drops to the lowest available gear and optimises everything (throttle response, aero, engine) to give the car a ‘boost’ – perfect for overtaking, or just the flat out thrill.



Before long the mist had cleared and the roof was off, taking a matter of seconds after I pulled over in a sleepy village square. Unlike the Targas of yesteryear, the process is entirely automated – all you have to do is hold down a button (either on the centre console or the key), and the entire rear window hinges up and backwards to allow the fabric Targa panel to fold underneath.

Without its roof, the cabin is breezy (albeit not so much as to ruin your hair), and despite the deflector atop the windscreen is quite loud at high speeds.

The interior is almost identical to the standard 911, with tactile materials and a functional yet aesthetically appealing design. There was, however, an awful lot of creaking coming from the dash, which was audible above the growling engine note (with the roof on).

The heated front sports seats are well-bolstered and adjustable in a breadth of directions – 18 to be precise. Better still, the memory package allows them to remember your seat and steering wheel position for when you climb back in (the seats slide back to facilitate climbing in and out).

The rear is as roomy as you would imagine (read: not at all), but this car doesn’t purport to be a four seater, rather a 2+2, perfect for two adults and two children, or a pair of decent sized suitcases (with a claimed open luggage space of 163-litres). There is Porsche’s standard 132-litre luggage compartment under the bonnet, too, which could accommodate a couple of smaller weekend bags.

Technology and Features


There’s far too much technology in this car to cover in one small panel, but the widescreen infotainment system that dominates the dash is worth talking about.

Again, lifted straight from the coupe, it features all of Porsche’s Connect and communication features, including Apple CarPlay, online navigation, a voice control system and an inbuilt simcard reader allowing standalone connectivity without a mobile phone needed to be connected. The interface is attractive and user friendly, responding instantly to touch.

Behind the steering wheel are the fixed odometer, rev counter, clock and fuel gauge, with two dials customisable to include screens such as navigation, vehicle details, a chronometer, live AWD power distribution and G-force. Admittedly, the latter few are a novelty, more for the passenger’s benefit than the driver’s, but cool nonetheless.



Unlike many of Porsche’s other 911s, the Targa isn’t built for flat out speed (but its there if you want it). It combines the technology of the standard 911, with the creature comforts that make driving it as easy as your standard saloon. A manual gearbox and deactivated PDCC would make the drive a whole lot more thrilling, but the Targa isn’t about that.

Rather, it’s a refined 2+2 roadster with a controversial yet venerable design, which while it may no longer serve the same purpose as it did 55 years ago is too ingrained in Porsche’s product line to be going anywhere.


Engine 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six
Power 450PS (331kW) @ 6,000rpm
Torque 530Nm (391lb ft) @ 2,300rpm
Transmission Eight-speed PDK double-clutch automatic, all-wheel-drive
Kerb weight 1,675kg         
0-62mph 3.6 seconds
Top speed 189mph
Fuel economy 26.2mpg
CO2 emissions 253-244g/km
Price £109,725 (£129,172 as tested)