PORSCHE 911 TARGA
STYLE with substance is the signature of Porsche’s latest 911 Targa.
It atones for not being quite as fast and furious as the coupe (and that’s a relative concept when dealing with any 911) with a visual presence that eclipses both coupe and convertible.
Right now Targas account for around five per cent of 911 sales. Porsche expects that number to rise when the new model lands here midyear. Having seen and driven it, we can only agree: this is a car that will convince many potential convertible buyers they only need to take half their top off. The Targa has no competitors. Nominally a 2+2 seater, only the front seats are exposed to the elements with the roof down. That’s a unique selling point.
Exclusivity is never cheap and in the case of the base Targa 4 model the price is $247,900. Those looking to better the Targa 4’s 5-second run to 100km/h and opt for the 4S with a 4.4-second sprint to triple figures and a price of 285,100. In both cases swapping the sevenspeed manual for a seven-speed dual-clutch auto adds $5950. The electrically folding softtop, with magnesium frame to keep it taut, represents the good and the bad for Targa owners. Good in that stowing the panel will stop traffic as the Porsche indulges in a 19-second semistrip tease as it slips off its wraparound glass rear to stow the roof; bad in that it can only be done when stationary.
Porsche says the car must be at a standstill because the glass canopy drops over the tail lights, potentially posing a safety risk and that the motors, struts and pivots would have had to be bigger — and heavier — to achieve it on the move.
As it is the Targa is 90kg heavier than a standard Porsche 911 Carrera 4. The Targa looks like a 911 with a hefty roll bar until you take the top off. Then it looks sensational. The wide silver Bstrut adds to the lines and imbues this car with the best styling of any model in the Porsche stable.
If sex sells the Targa is an adult toy shop. It lacks for nothing against the regular 911 and has more visual panache than the convertible.
Front luggage space, under what would be traditionally be the bonnet, is 125 litres — enough for a couple of aircraft carry-on bags, while the rear is a slightly more accommodating 160 litres. The only thing the Porsche lacks is bespoke luggage designed to fit inside the uniquely shaped interiors. Porsche doesn’t earn a crashtest rating, purely by virtue of being a small volume maker.
That said, I’d happily run a 911 into a brick wall, such is the feeling of solidity from the chassis. In normal on-road circumstances, only those who don’t appreciate the interaction between the right foot and the seat-of-the pants feel will ever get a Porsche out of shape. Even then, the stability control will save you — long gone are the days when a Porsche bit back at owners with more cash than common sense.
The Targa is fitted with four airbags if things do go awry but before that four 330mm fourpiston monobloc callipers wash will pull speed off and the stability control will permit a degree of tail-wagging oversteer then pull the car into line before the driver has cause to panic. Give it the right boot and it is immediately apparent the Targa is far removed from a hairdressers’ conveyance. The suspension damping and rebound rates have been adjusted to allow for the extra weight and the result is a vehicle that is planted on the road.
On the intentionally chosen crap B-roads around Bari, Italy, the Targa was always composed, albeit with every bump being felt through the chassis and/or steering. It may go topless but it still goes hard and Porsche prefers to keep the sporting orientation to the fore.
There’s a whiff of scuttle shake over the bigger bumps — the Targa has about half the torsional rigidity of a coupe — but it is a small sacrifice to make for the open-air experience.
The car tracks true irrespective of the road conditions but it isn’t the most refined open-top tourer — go buy a BMW 6 Series if that’s your inclination. The Targa hoop not only blocks headcheck visibility but deflects a gentle eddy of air back onto the outside shoulder of driver and passenger and diverts a steady breeze into the hair of back-seat passengers (assuming you can find anyone prepared to spend time back there).
More concerning is the rattle from the windscreen-mounted PRICES From $247,900 WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km CAPPED PRICE SERVICING: No SERVICE INTERVALS 12 months/15,000km RESALE 61 per cent (three years, Glass’s Guide) SAFETY Not rated ENGINE 3.4-litre flat sixcylinder, 257kW/390Nm (Targa 4); 3.8-litre flat sixcylinder, 294kW/440Nm (Targa 4S) TRANSMISSION 7-speed manual, seven-speed dual-clutch auto; AWD THIRST 9.5L/100km, 223g/km CO2 (manual Targa 4); 8.7L/100km, 204g/km CO2 (auto Targa 4); 10L/100km, 237g/km CO2 (manual Targa 4S); 9.2L/100km, 214g/km CO2 (auto Targa 4S) DIMENSIONS 4.49m (L), 1.85m (W), 1.3m (H) WEIGHT 1540-1575kg SPARE Tyre repair kit air deflector over bumps at freeway speeds. If I’m paying mid-$200K for a sports car, the only squeaks I expect are from the passengers.
It was only evident on one of the two vehicles tested — and they’d already been punished by a succession of motoring hacks — but is so incongruous in a Porsche that it is noteworthy.
In the main, the Porsche is superbly refined and displays a cornering prowess that shames many Euro sports cars priced in the same league. I’ll take the traditional hardtop but for those who want the look — and to be looked at — the Targa is the best amalgam of coupe and convertible.