Why the Porsche 911 GTS Targa isn’t a proper GTS

The new year has got off to a largely positive start in terms of motoring news, with the NAIAS in Detroit proving a prime platform for big-name manufacturers to unveil their latest coterie of exciting sports cars. Petrolheads witnessed the reveal of the Ford GT and long-awaited Honda NSX to get the 2015 automotive feast started, but when it came to the presentation from our favourite Zuffenhausen sports car builders, I was left less than impressed.

The plucky 991 Carrera GTS4 Targa unveiled in Detroit is the source of my cynicism. Put simply, the GTS is a revered ‘purist’ moniker for Porsche, so why is it being so readily diluted with non-purist metal?

Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Executive Board, unveils the 991 Targa GTS4 in Detroit this week.
Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Executive Board, unveils the 991 Targa GTS4 in Detroit this week.

Of course, Porsche’s GTS story goes far back to the 904 of 1964 (ironically the same year the 911 first graced our streets and circuits), but it wasn’t until 2010 that the three most famous numbers in motoring were melded to three equally famous letters in creating the first 911 GTS. Introduced in the twilight of the 997-era, the GTS brought motorsporting purity to the Carrera range, and the widebodied, Powerkitted, and generously-optioned GTS was hailed a showroom success in both all-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive form.

We then waited eagerly for four years before we got our next instalment of 911 GTS, this time in 991 guise, and our first drive of the car (again in two and four-wheel drive) in issue 121 delighted in how the new GTS successfully bridges the gap between Carrera S and GT3 in the range. There was a caveat to our verdict, though, which centred around the canvas-roofed GTS specimens. In his review, Kyle Fortune wrote: “If there was any evidence that the GTS badge should be limited to a handful of models, the GTS4 Cabriolet is it,” before adding, “with four-wheel drive and the weight of the Cabriolet, it’s no longer in keeping with the GTS ethos – in spirit or reality.”

Lee argues there's little driving purity to a 1,555kg open-top GTS.
Lee argues there’s little driving purity to a 1,555kg open-top GTS.

Kyle’s point of view hones in on my broader opinion, which is where concerns over the new 991 GTS reverberate from. The Targa GTS4 is even heavier than than the Cabriolet GTS4 (admittedly only by 15 kilograms) and when you think of ‘driving purity’ as the GTS sub-brand is so marketed by Porsche, you do not think of a lumpy open-topped 911 with awkward wind buffeting at any pace above 40mph. A Targa GTS4 is sure to be far from an ideal matrimony then, with that fundamental ingredient sure to be elusive (a doughnut without jam, anyone?).

What was once a special moniker for the real driver in us is fast becoming a severely diluted sub-brand devoid, in some cases, of the exclusive tradition in purity we’d come to expect from the GTS. The Targa GTS4 is not the start to 2015 us Porschephiles would have wanted – but at least we don’t have long to wait until the 991 GT3 RS

Do you agree? Comment below or tweet us @Total911 with your thoughts.


Comments (4)

  • Ryan Zaninovich

    While I can see the point you are making, I still must disagree. I think sometimes we can get a little carried away with our Porsche purists mentality. If we agree that the Cabrio is worthy enough for the GTS badge then we MUST also agree that the Targa is worthy. There simply is not enough space, performance wise, between the two variants to include one and not the other. If that one tenth of a second in acceleration, or so small as to be unnoticeable cornering/braking difference is making you think yes for the GTS Cabrio and no to the GTS Targa then maybe it’s time to take a step back, a deep breath and RELAX. The other argument is that the coupe is the only variant worthy of GTS. On that, I have this to say…stick with your GT3 then (wait, it doesn’t come in manual?? Not my problem!). Why can’t Porsche lovers who also love the feel and sounds of the open air also enjoy the coolness and performance upgrades that the GTS offers? I’ll close with this…not ALL 911’s have check all the little boxes in our heads. If that were the case then the 911 would get very boring very fast. It’s okay if there is a version of the 911 GTS that is inherently slower than the coupe version. People need to stop trying to turn the GTS into some kind of track only, super enhanced race car. It’s not, so relax.

  • Enrique Peynado

    Totally agree, not everyone buys a GTS with a track on his mind, the Targa GTS provides the best of two worlds, since is the last of the non turbo era and produced in smaller numbers than the coupe and production started much later than the coupe and cabrio means more appreciation in the future. The 991 GT3 is not suited as much as a GTS for a daily driver and will be opaqued by the new 991.2 GT3 when it surely arrives sometime in 2016 and for sure with major improvements as a 2017 model year

  • Maybe a diluted version of the iconic 911 GTS for purists, but for a not-so-purist petrolhead like me, this ride looks sleek and sporty! Usually premium roadsters like these are designed to tackle wind buffeting and noise at higher speeds, but surprising to read that Porsche fumbled on that front with this iconic model! But on the other hand, in the not-so-premium drop tops, wind buffeting is still sadly a norm! To take my cabrio for instance, the wind noise and back-draft had almost made me deaf before I stumbled upon a wind deflector. Now I’ve started to relish the wind-in-the-air experience thanks to the BackBlade windblocker!

  • Deepak Eapen

    Well, I’ve mounted a Windblox wind deflector and I must admit that it’s keeping my cabin hush and serene even at highway velocities.