2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S review: Year-round open-air performer

Jon Wong / Roadshow

The Targa models offer a unique experience in the Porsche 911 range. While they do not represent the full-blown open-top experience of the Cabriolet, they boast a more outdoor experience than the coupe. And unlike the humped convertible, the new Porsche 911 Targa 4S from 2021 still retains an elegant silhouette. It’s the best for all 911s.


Like it

  • Gorgeous looks
  • Powerful transmission
  • Sensational handling

I do not like

  • Expensive
  • Super narrow rear seat

Let in the light (and the cold air)

The Targa top itself flows through a 19-second song and dance that can only be performed while standing still. Motors lift covers, things fold and pieces lock into place. It’s nice to watch, but the thought of something going wrong along the way (and the repair bill that will likely follow) makes me cringe. But this is a concern for later; right now, the only thing that matters is the fantastic design and wide position of the Targa.

The weather conditions during my time with the Targa ranged from clear to rainy, with late snowfall for good measure. However, I drove as much as I could. At speed, there is some wind turbulence in the cabin, but it’s not enough to make your hair look like you’ve just gotten out of bed. Any gust of wind can mainly be canceled with the manually deployable deflector at the top of the windshield. This, along with increasing the heat and letting the seat warmers cook my keister, helps make top-down driving totally enjoyable in cold temperatures.

The roof of the Targa lowers in 19 seconds.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

When rain or snow starts to fall and the Targa roof has to close, the operation is free from annoying creaks and rattles, which was not the case in models of the previous generation I tried. Quiet environment is no small feat considering how many seams, gaskets and mechanical drains could make unwanted noises.

Cozy borders

You won’t find much to complain about in the Targa cabin. The layout is clean and easy to work with albeit with a combination of toggles and buttons on the center console, allowing me to adjust climate controls, heated and cooled seats, and more. Supportive front seats together with many soft, leather-covered surfaces create a comfortable and quality interior.

Like the coupe and convertible, the 911 Targa has very narrow rear seats, with fixed backrests and hardly any legroom. Anyone taller than 5 feet 6 inches will have to squirm into a piece of Tetris as their head will be wedged against the Targa’s roof frame, but at least that bar is covered in Alcantara. In fact, the rear seat is best used for cargo, providing an additional 5.75 cubic feet of space to complement the 4.66 cubic feet available in the front trunk.

The interior layout of the 911 is clean and attractive.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

Like the rest of the new 911s, the Targa benefits from major technological updates. The instrument cluster still consists of an analog speedometer flanked by a pair of reconfigurable 7-inch TFT displays. In the center console, the fast, intuitive and lively-looking Porsche communication management system handles infotainment tasks with a 10.9-inch touchscreen. It works with a nice sounding 12-speaker Bose audio setup, real-time traffic information navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot, and can now run both wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

On the safety front, my Targa 4S test car is equipped with front collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, parking sensors and a 360 degree camera with excellent image quality. Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist and Night Vision are available as options.

The 911’s PCM infotainment system is now compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

Artist for all seasons

When it’s time to dance, the Targa 4S doesn’t disappoint. Not with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six that produces 443 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. In my tester, thrust is routed to all four wheels through a lightning-fast eight-speed dual-clutch transmission that helps the transmission return an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Overall, the 911 Targa 4S accelerates to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and can cover the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds to reach a top speed of 180 mph.

These performance claims actually seem conservative considering how quickly the 4S escapes stops when using launch control. The mid-range turbocharged grunt makes passing slower traffic and blending on freeways a breeze, the Targa pushing madly towards the engine’s 7,500-rpm red line and sounding damn good through the sports exhaust in the process .

The offset 20-inch front and 21-inch tires provide the Targa 4S with a healthy grip.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

For anyone concerned about the Targa’s extra weight and high center of gravity, don’t be. Yes, a 3,687-pound curb weight represents a 200-pound penalty over the 911 4S coupe, but better goodies like adaptive dampers, rear-wheel steering, a torque-vector rear differential, and sturdy 20-inch front inch and 21-inch rear tires hide the extra weight well. Precise and direct steering helps the 911 enter corners immediately with very little squat during the running of the bulls. This car has all the grip and composure you might need for enthusiastic driving on the road. The brakes are typical of Porsche, offering good initial grip and great pedal modulation.

It is worth mentioning that this Targa is fitted with Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 winter tires. No doubt, with summer leathers you will feel even more eager to whiz through your favorite back roads, but the winter tire is definitely useful for the aforementioned snow. Yes, the 911 is a sports car, but it plows through the build-up without batting an eye and if you want to enjoy kicking the rear in a controlled manner, you absolutely can. Top it all off with the ability for the Targa to be comfortable and relaxed to drive in its Normal driving setting and you have a sports car that can be driven all year round – with the right tires.

These 911 Targa 4S test car stickers for $ 161,960.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

How would I specify it

My ideal 2021 911 Targa 4S, which starts at $ 138,550 including $ 1,350 for destination, starts with a free seven-speed manual transmission. As good as the dual clutch is, I almost always intend to go with three pedals if available, simply because of the added driver involvement. Then I’d pick the $ 3,270 Shark Blue paint job and the $ 2,950 sports exhaust system for a nicer soundtrack. For the interior, give me the $ 440 Four-way Electric Plus Sports Seats and the $ 5,350 Premium Package, mainly for blind spot monitoring, Bose stereo, and cooled seats. This all pushes the price of my machine to $ 150,560. By comparison, the Targa tester pictured here with extra high-cost extras like $ 2,090 rear wheel steering and $ 2,770 front axle lift system pushes its bottom line to steeper $ 161,960.

Choose your droptop poison

If you’re a buyer of the all-wheel drive 911 who is pondering which open model to buy, here’s something else that might make the decision more difficult: The Cabriolet and Targa models start at the exact same price, with the 4 versions starting at $ 122,650. and 4S cars for $ 138,550. For me, I am part of the Targa Team based purely on appearance. The swollen rear of the convertible can’t hold a candle to that sleek silhouette of the 911.

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