Fast times with Porsche 911 Targa 4S manual

By JAY WONG | 1 February 2018

A recent trip to Porsche-land in Stuttgart, Germany, landed CarSifu the opportunity to take a drive in the current drop-top 911 Targa 4S, only it came equipped with a seven-speed manual transmission instead.

This is definitely a rare experience, since most modern Porsches in Malaysia come equipped with a seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (double-clutch) with paddle shifters.

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Being the tail-end of summer in Germany, the country approached the start of autumn so the sun still blared but the breeze provided some nice cooling salvation.

The perfect condition to don a pair of sunglasses and lose the roof.

Coming from the confines of a more accommodating car, there’s always that cramped feeling whenever this writer clambers into a low slung Porsche along with its stiff suspension and tight sports steering wheel.

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Even the pedals felt firm - desiring an authoritative prod to make them work.

Faced with some slow city traffic at first, we sat soaking in the sun’s rays and marinating in the low frequency drone of the 420PS 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged boxer engine.

The itch to be relinquished from this ‘cul de sac’ intensified for a good 20 minutes and once we made it past a fender-bender site, the throttle was blipped to somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000rpm before dumping the clutch to help rid some slight facial wrinkles and leave a small imprint on the powered leather sports seat.

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The wide 245/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) tyres on the 20-inch Carrera S wheels barely managed to deal with the 500Nm of torque from the rear-mounted engine.

Somewhere between shifting from first to second gear we shot past the 100kph mark (still energetically climbing) and the relatively short-throw of the gear shifts helped bolster the enthusiasm a little. Ok - a lot more.

The windows went up to reduce some of the low-frequency buffeting against the ear drums and to also allow for less shouting to occur when trying to have a conversation.

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Before becoming practically deaf from all those high speed open-top shenanigans, a quick sub-30 second pit stop at the nearest petrol station got the powered roof back on before continuing on our way.

As the ear drums made their slow recovery, the Targa 4S displayed its scalpel-like accuracy, bobbing and weaving through sparse traffic.

Even though this Porsche had steel brake discs on, there are no complaints about the stopping power from the cross-drilled discs that has that tell-tale German firmness for its initial bite.

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Soon, the on board navigation system directed us off onto a narrow countryside road.

The car was suddenly flanked by green on either side. We were nearing our lunch destination and were looking forward to receiving some ‘uber’ traditional German sausages.

Post lunch, the ringing in the ears had almost tapered off, but since it was the countryside, the top came down once again, allowing the nostrils to be filled with the scent of freshly cut grass.

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This time, there wasn’t going to be any high speed drills, instead we snaked along a narrow road - mostly between third and fourth gear.

The towering trees provided some shade with its thick canopy above while the cool breeze brushed our skin and the naturally scented foliage calmed the heart.

Once the road opened up to brighter and wider sections, it was back to frantic gear shifts, hard braking, clutch dumping and throttle stomping to say the least.

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An hour later, the journey had looped us back towards more modern surroundings as the numerous lanes began to get crowded with cars.

This prompted for the roof to come back on, including the climate controls, to help quiet the mind for the remainder of the journey back to where we initially picked up the car - Porscheplatz 1 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Admittedly, it was hard to relinquish this car’s key fob after having helmed it for the last few hours.

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This writer became proudly attached to it and although the cabin may have initially seemed cramped, the suspension stiff and the steering wheel heavy when at speed, it was the engine’s rumble that marked the starting point of what seemed to be an unlikely love story.

The 911 Targa 4S has a myriad of capabilities that can instantly swing from being a docile cruiser in one instance to pouncing into race-like action the next - all with the option of having the roof on or off.

Regardless of how impractical it may seem in our neck of the woods, merely winding down the windows just doesn’t seem to cut it very well when trying to enjoy some of nature’s wonderful moments.

It’s only when the roof’s off and the hair gets messy that allows for a more immersed experience.

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