Open gallery Close by Matt Prior 7 August 2014 Follow @matty_prior Share
How we test cars
On its introduction, the Targa name on the flank of a Porsche 911 was designed to reflect the Targa Florio, Sicily’s famous motor race.
That was in the 1960s, and we don’t know about you, but when we think of Targa today, the image that occurs to us is not one of a 911 spearing up a winding mountain pass in a motor race that was canned when it just became too dangerous.
The whole rear section opens to stow the roof; the mechanism is essentially from the 911 cabrio’sMatt PriorEditor-at-large
Instead, we think of a classic Porsche 911 in a period colour – yellow, perhaps, or brown – cruising along a Californian boulevard near a sun-drenched beach.
Both are fairly romantic ideals, but the latter strikes us as more synonymous with the Targa because the original incarnation of it ended up being so popular in the US.
Not for nothing was it first revealed at a motor show in the United States – Detroit – where its shiny rollover hoop and roof mechanism revived the traditional Targa theme and replaced a sliding glass roof. That is not the only change, as the new twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre engine that is now powering the Carrera and Carrera S Porsche 911’s has now found its way into the Targa as well.
Will it find similar favour here? We’ll let you know the answer.
Verdict Model tested: Rating:
Porsche 911 Targa 2014-2019
GoodAppealing, relaxed characterClassic 911 handlingFast and capableBadLimited added practicality or cabin richnessLittle-improved cabin insulation
DESIGN & STYLING
The original 911 Targa, released in 1967, was Porsche’s answer to rollover crash regulations that it thought were coming to the US and would have outlawed full convertibles.
The Targa, then, retained a structure behind the occupants’ heads, but with a removable roof panel and a removable rear window — a body shape that, originally a stop-gap, became a third bodystyle until the demise of the 964-generation in the early 1990s. The 993 model revised the Targa as a sliding glass roof panel.
The windscreen is a direct carry-over from the convertible, sensibly. No point adding cost and complexity if you don’t need toNic CackettRoad tester
We suspect that this latest Targa, based on the current 991 generation of the 911, will find much approval there, too.
There’s no doubt about what is the stand-out design feature of the 991-generation 911 Targa: the hoop has returned.
And we, at least, are very grateful for it. It made the Targa what it was in the first instance and, to us, it has felt rather like the 911 has become a two-bodystyle-only car since its demise with the 964 911.
However, it has returned not in its original form, which had bits – shock – that had to be removed by hand. None of that grubby manual work today would befit what is, here as tested, a £109,531 Porsche 911.
In its place is an electric mechanism, borrowed from the 911 cabriolet, which folds the roof up or down in 19sec, and only then if the car is stationary.
When retracted, it leaves the open panel and also leaves in place the curved rear screen, which is smattered in thin heater elements to keep it demisted – like a heated windscreen is, rather than a normal rear window.
Sensibly, Porsche hasn’t reinvented the roof when it comes to creating this generation of Targa. At a stroke, it has given the 911’s third bodystyle a new lease of life by reintroducing the distinctive roll hoop while saving itself the trouble of creating a mechanism for sliding a roof panel back by, effectively, using the one from the 911 cabriolet.
But whereas the 911 cabriolet has a rear deck that lifts while the hood origamis itself into the nook left beneath the panel, the whole Targa shebang — rear window, rear panel and all — rises to allow the roof to fold into the space left behind.
That it’s a sizeable roof panel is perhaps one reason why the 911 retains only four-wheel-drive transmission and the requisite wider bodywork. That it adds yet more weight behind the passenger compartment is potentially another reason. The official one is that this is an all-weather topless 911.
All of this gubbins sits atop some very familiar Porsche 911 hardware. The Targa is available with four-wheel drive only and is tested here in the more powerful Carrera 4S guise rather than its base 4 or range-topping GTS forms.
Powering the Targa range and driving all four wheels, is a twin-turbocharged, six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine, and the only real difference between the three variants is the slightly bigger compressors, which means the base Carrera 4 gets 364bhp, Carrera 4S gets 414bhp and the GTS 444bhp.
Where a Targa does split from other 911s is that, in creating a car that is 110kg heavier than the coupé (and 40kg more than the cabriolet), Porsche has chosen to modify the suspension to cope.
That’s to Porsche’s credit, because there are plenty of manufacturers who wouldn’t bother with fitting rebound buffer springs, meant to restrain body movements while cornering.