A DRIV­ING DREAM

Kris Karacin­ski finds out why the Porsche 911 is one of the great­est cars in modern mo­tor­ing his­tory, as he ac­quaints him­self with the lat­est 911 Targa 4 GTS

Destination of the World News - - SPEND IT MOTORING -

Afew months ago I had the plea­sure of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the new Porsche 718 Cay­man S, which was a su­perb in­tro­duc­tion to the German car­maker’s sta­ble. But when I was handed the keys to a 911 Targa 4 GTS this month, I felt like I had grad­u­ated to the next level. More than any­thing else, I was in­trigued to see what all the fuss was about: just why is the Porsche 911 one of the most cel­e­brated cars in modern mo­tor­ing his­tory, and is it re­ally worth the huge price dif­fer­ence from the mar­que’s other (non-911) mod­els? The 911 can’t be that much bet­ter, can it? In a word, yes. Vis­ually, the Targa 4 GTS is a feast. It’s a 911 at heart, so there’s noth­ing too sur­pris­ing about its shape. Be­ing a GTS model, the body has a more ag­gres­sive look than the stan­dard 911, with larger air in­takes and smoky LED head­lights in black. It’s also a lit­tle wider, since it’s four-wheel drive, and has a slightly un­usual semi-cabri­o­let roof (more on that later). The test drive model was fin­ished in beau­ti­ful carmine red com­ple­mented by black 20-inch Turbo S wheels. In­side, the Al­can­tara seats and dash­board con­tin­ued the red and black theme, with a great mix of clas­sic di­als and new tech­nol­ogy. The dash has three sections: a speedome­ter, a gor­geous large rev counter (in red), and a dig­i­tal dis­play of­fer­ing a host of op­tions for your view­ing plea­sure. The steer­ing wheel was note­wor­thy for what it lacked rather than what it had. In a re­fresh­ing change from al­most ev­ery other new sports car I’ve seen over the past 10 years, Porsche’s de­sign team have re­frained from lit­ter­ing the wheel with but­tons. In­stead, they have em­bel­lished it with just one: a small dial that al­lows the driver quick and easy ac­cess to nor­mal, fast (Sport), crazy fast (Sports+) modes, plus in­di­vid­ual driver set­tings. In fact, the in­te­rior de­sign is so min­i­mal that you don’t re­ally have any­where to put your phone – per­haps an­other ef­fort to en­cour­age good driv­ing. Af­ter a few days to­gether, I did ac­tu­ally miss a lit­tle vol­ume con­trol when I wanted to fully ex­pe­ri­ence the in­cred­i­ble sound qual­ity from the Bose sys­tem. I spent around 10 hours driv­ing on my first day with the car and never had any com­fort is­sues, thanks to 18- way adap­tive sports seats. The fully electric seats have a mem­ory func­tion, en­abling them to move when you stop and start the car. Once you do turn the key, the 911 growls into life. In this GTS, I was lucky enough to have the flat six twin-tur­bocharged en­gine sat be­hind me, with 450 horses primed and ready to go. One im­por­tant de­ci­sion you have to make be­fore you start driv­ing is whether to put the roof down or not. In the 911 Targa 4 GTS you can’t raise and lower the roof while the car is mov­ing. It’s also quite slow, tak­ing around 20 sec­onds. How­ever, it’s one of the more spec­tac­u­lar cabri­o­let con­ver­sions around. Per­son­ally I’d use the re­mote to lower (or raise) the roof be­fore you get into the car, so you can full ap­pre­ci­ate the Trans­former-like process along­side any other wide-eyed passers by. On the road it’s not the qui­etest drive; roof on or off it’s noisy. That’s not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing if you en­joy lis­ten­ing to your mu­sic loud or that sports ex­haust singing. And that ex­haust re­ally does sing. There’s a but­ton on the cen­tral con­sole to open it’s vo­cal chords even more if you don’t want to have the car in sports mode all the time and con­serve fuel. [how does this work? Is it es­sen­tially a sound en­hancer?] When fuel con­ser­va­tion isn’t a con­cern, I highly rec­om­mend sam­pling the car’s Sports and Sports+ modes. The 911 Targa 4 GTS shifts. You’ll get from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 sec­onds. As you push the ac­cel­er­a­tor, the en­gine and ex­haust song turns in to a roar that just seems to grow and grow. I found my­self won­der­ing where the floor was for the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal, and I’ll ad­mit I never found it. The Targa hits the speed limit far too soon to ex­plore every­thing this en­gine is ca­pa­ble of. One area in which the Targa blew me away was it’s han­dling; this could be the best han­dling car I’ve ever driven. The four-wheel drive is com­pli­mented by rear axle steer­ing. At low speeds this meant you could do a full 360 around the small­est of mini round­abouts and at higher speeds you could drive round most bends while ac­cel­er­at­ing. It’s com­mon knowl­edge that Porsche pro­duces cars that han­dle well. This felt like it was on rails; there was barely any body-roll ei­ther. I loved the 718 Cay­man S. How­ever, the 911 Targa 4 GTS is worth the ex­tra money. The more time I spent with the car, the more I en­joyed it. For me that’s a sign of a truly great car. If ev­ery drive is bet­ter than the last, it’s got to be spe­cial.

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