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.


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