A short review of the 992 Targa 4S PDK
I have driven more 911s than any other type of sportscar; go figure... the car is popular, Porsche has made more than a million. Curiously, the only 911s I've driven have been turbocharged, just as this Targa is.
The last time Porsche made a turbocharged Targa it was 2019 with the 991.2 Targa which had the same engine as this car. Erm. OK. The big controversy over engines came with the prior generation, the 991, one which also ditched some manual options and the hydraulic steering. The 992 doesn't have as many changes under its belt, it's just the 911 getting comfortable in its new clothes as an exotic with proper supercar credentials trying to survive in an age of increasingly annoying regulations.
The Targa has an idealized story behind it... Just like any other Targa top car it goes along the way of "US being too harsh on convertibles and sneaky manufacturers getting away with it," but it's kinda hearsay. Nowadays Porsche charges the same amount of money for the Targa than for the convertible... for me that's down to marketing. To many the Targa with its retro aesthetics is the cooler car, and it also should be safer given it has a roof bar, AND is just as fast as the convertible. So why worry?
In reality the convertible is the better car; its 40kg lighter, and because it has a wind deflector it isn't as uncomfortable at high speeds. But the aesthetics, man. That brushed steel roof bar, that massive glass rear dome, the name.... *Targa* it's more special. All that said, Porsche does manage to make it identical when it comes to performance, except for emissions where the Targa is ever so slightly dirtier. It does make people go a bit dumb, and by keeping the price the same, Porsche might have disarmed anyone who believes they're gonna be remotely practical when buying a 911.
For those worried about the convertible's performance, this Targa is the stiffest convertible car I've ever driven and it doesn't feel overwhelmed by backroads with creases and dives. Obviously the coupe is a better performer, but if you want the capability to go top-down you're not really loosing out on enough performance to sit it out. In fact, unless you're gonna track it, the convertible might be the best 992 to buy.
Somethings are the same among all the 911s, the ignition remains to the left of the driver, the engine remains behind the rear axle, it still is a relatively small car. Once you turn the ignition, though, the car shows off the new cabin design with myriad screens, though they don't do many functions. some surfaces have a somewhat knurled feel, specially the ignition switch and the gear lever which does look like a mini Braun shaver. I really, really don't like it, the one on the GT3 is much better, perhaps Porsche could sell the eventual GTS with that version of the shifter.
Weirdly, what surprised me the most about the Targa's interior is the sensation that it is built with impeccable precision, everything is taut, and tactile surfaces are sublime to the touch. The switches, the door handles, the steering wheel, the paddles. Everything except that weird shifter. The adaptive seats in this one are also very good, with kidney bladders that can hold you very tightly in place if you so desire. I really feel special in this car, and that's not even with the engine turned on.
Once you twist the starter, the engine comes to life, this Targa has the sports exhaust and it is a bit loud upon start. once you get into your comfortable driving position setting off feels remarkably normal. The car doesn't have very stiff suspension, specially in "normal" mode, and the gearbox's programming is geared towards comfort. The bose stereo is not anything very special but it does its job, and the NVH is relatively low, it's not as comfortable as a luxury car, but as a sportscar it could've been leagues more uncomfortable.
By far the most annoying thing about the car is that the Targa top takes 19 seconds to stow and since the glass dome is basically a loosely held parachute, Porsche has been cautious enough to restrict the operation to when the car is at a stand still. But it's a ridiculous amount of time, supposing the average stop sign lasts for around 25-30 seconds, good luck stowing without being a nuisance to other drivers. The car feels somewhat different with the roof down, the air kept coming from behind me and I really feel this car could benefit significantly of an air-scarf system. As to the noise, with the roof down the engine can be heard a bit better than with the roof up, but given I'm more impressed by the turbocharger's noise than the relatively weak exhaust of such a restricted engine, I like keeping the top up.
It's important to survey in automatic cars where the computer wants the revs to be; in normal mode the car seldom leaves the 2,000 to 3,500 range, owing to the amount of torque the twin turbo engine makes it's hardly surprising that it can be kept around that range while also giving sufficient response to the driver. In sport mode it stays around 2,500 to 4,500 RPM. As much as the engine has a flat power band, you really want to ring it out to the higher RPMs and hold off shifting but you won't be rewarded with more performance necessarily, you must get used to this. It doesn't behave like a 911 with a turbo badge, though. The power in those feels never ending and pursuing higher rev ranges does give more performance. The 4S is just a bit more relaxed, perhaps.
As for the controls, I feel like the steering is light, in a good way, and I really enjoy the weighing of the pedals and paddles. It keeps you grounded, and so does the sensation of speed that you get through the vibrations, the low seating position, and the feedback from the steering and suspension. It's the 911's greatest asset compared to more numb sportscars: you can have a lot of fun doing 90 km/h or doing 150 km/h; the sensation of speed is there and quite present.
despite being AWD and rear engined, the car is neutral enough, I never felt like it was going to turn into a handful though the rear does feel a bit slippier than the front end. You do get the sensation of the rear steering and torque vectoring working to make cornering sharper, in the end the car can take corners quickly and in a dignified fashion... It's everything other manufacturers want their AWD cars to be but can't.
To keep myself true, I did drive another 911 to compare this one, a 993. I came out of it capable of drawing a weak lineage to the 992. Both cars felt like the balance rested around the same place. But I really enjoyed the more exciting unhinged steering, braking, and acceleration of the 993. As an everyday car, though, it's evident the 992 is by far a much more neutral compromise between practicality, comfort, and performance than what the 993 had to offer for it's age.
All in, I think it's a pretty good car, it's not as numb as most modern cars and yet continues being a joy on a monotone highway as much as it is a joy down a backroad. I don't think it's the best 911 out there, but it does seem, in the whole, a credible everyday performance car as opposed to some competitors like the Vantage or the F-type.
Also, don't forget to get the wood dash.