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Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS: Sleek, sporty and oh so pricey

Porsche doesn't make any bad cars, even any mediocre cars. It's only a matter of good, better or best.

And the 911 Targa 4 GTS is assuredly among the best all-around cars Porsche makes. Sporty, stylish and super fast, it handles like a dream and is as competent in a sharp switchback as it is comfortable on a long-haul drive.

The 2016 Targa 4 GTS boasts a 3.8-liter, six-cylinder engine that makes 430 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque, on a vehicle that weighs only 3,400 pounds. It goes from zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds, and hits a top speed of 187 mph.

But the Targa is fun at lower speeds, too. Sitting go-kart low and square on the ground, it jets from corner to corner and makes great use of the all-wheel drive, torque vectoring and traction management systems that I loved on the Boxster GTS.

This is a driver's car. The electronic steering is stiff. The suspension is stiff. The seven-speed PDK transmission is so finely tuned -- intuiting slowing, braking and cornering with rev-matching downshifts -- that paddle-shifting is unnecessary. The "sport" mode sharpens the gearing and adds dramatic tone and volume to the exhaust note.

As befits a performance car, the tachometer is front and center on the dash, with the speedometer off to the side. Other dash readouts measure G-force and record zero-to-60-mph sprints. The braking is firm and effective, making 60 to zero just as pleasant. An automatically deploying rear spoiler is also there to keep the car stuck to the pavement.

None of that is surprising. It's a Porsche, and it's spendy. This Targa model starts at $133,795.

The surprise is how comfortable the car was on a long drive. Enjoying every curve in every mile of the highway, I added extra side roads when they seemed to offer more interesting driving. After eight hours, I was sorry the ride was over.

The Grand Touring part of GTS loses a little credibility when it comes to storage. An airplane carry-on bag will fit under the front hood, and there's room for a couple more in the rear "seat" area, but the big bags will have to stay home.

A bigger drawback for some consumers will be the noise. Even with the top up, conversation or telephone calls at anything above 60 mph will be strained, as will listening to that Bose sound system.

For the real enthusiast, maybe that won't matter. Why would you want to listen to music, or talk to anyone on the phone, when you could listen to that glorious exhaust note? Hang up and drive.

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