Porsche 911 Targa review

By: David Morley

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Road test: 2014 Porsche 911 Targa 4

Porsche 911 Targa review
Driven: Porsche 911 Targa

 

2014 Porsche 911 Targa 4

Does Porsche's new 911 miss the Targa?

It could still have run the pants off most of what else was around at the time, but the original Porsche 911 Targa was, as far as the purists were concerned, part number 901-WRONG.

Consider the proposition: Take the sublime early 911 coupe. Cut the roof off to reduce stiffness, add weight via the additional strengthening required to prevent the thing falling in two and then, finally, get rid of that sensational side-window profile that has become a 911 signature. Hiding to nowhere anybody? Oh yeah, and let’s throw in the fact that in early-911 guise, the car was too small to match the crop-duster Targa glasshouse, making the thing look top-heavy and goofy. Hmmmm. Where do I sign?

Over the years, the Targa thing evolved until it became more or less a full-length sunroof that slid back under the rear windscreen electrically. Better, but the side view was still compromised a bit and all that glass way up high did nothing for the car’s kerb mass or its C of G. And hey, when you could get a coupe with a factory sunroof anyway…

This brings us to 2014 and the new 991 version of the 911 and its Targa derivative. And straight up, I’ve got to say it looks great. It invokes the feel of the original small-bumper 911 Targa with its brushed alloy roll-bar and big, one-piece curved-glass rear window. But since the new 911 is longer, wider and deeper in the flanks, the Targa glasshouse suddenly doesn’t look dorky. To make doubly sure of that, Porsche has built the Targa on the Carrera 4 platform so you get the extra 44mm of width across the hips as well as an extra 10mm of tyre on each side.

For better or for worse, that also means you get the all-wheel-drive driveline. You can have the Targa 4 with its 3.4-litre, 257kW engine or the Targa 4S with 3.8 litres and 294kW. Porsche has also engineered the Targa to accept either the seven-speed manual or seven-speed PDK, although word around the campfire is that Australian-delivered Targas will only have the PDK with the manual a special-order-only proposition.

The roof itself is a pretty clever gadget considering there’s an engine in the space a folding roof would normally occupy. That monster rear window and its surrounding panel hinge up and away from the roll-hoop and then the soft-top front section folds away behind the rear seats (which remain as useless as the rear pews in any 911). It’s a one-button job, but because of the way the rear glass folds out back and down, it’s a process that can’t be done on the move (as it can in some convertibles).

Porsche admits that the change to a Targa layout has reduced the 911 coupe’s structural rigidity by about half. That’s still pretty good for a drop-top, but there’s some inevitable scuttle-shake and the re-tuned suspension necessary as a result never feels 100 per cent happy on rougher roads. The less-stiff bodyshell also seems to allow a little more suspension and tyre noise into the cabin, too.

The big question for us is who’s going to buy the thing when the coupe and 911 Cabriolet would seem to have both ends of the market sewn up. No, says Porsche: the Cabriolet is for those who want to carry four people in the sun, while the Targa is for two-only tan-lovers. See, the glass-covered rear seat in the Targa would be a sandwich oven for anybody stuck back there and the buffeting in the rear seat is pretty horrendous. They told us the car market was becoming more niche!

Prices start at $247,900 for the Targa 4 and $285,100 for the Targa 4S. Interestingly, those prices are between four and five grand more than for the equivalent 911 Cabriolet. Seems that even in 2014, a 911 Targa is not without compromise.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

2014 Porsche 911 Targa 4

Body: 2-door Targa
Engine: 3436cc flat 6-cyl, DOHC, 24v
Power: 257kW @ 7400rpm
Torque: 390Nm @ 5600rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
Suspension: MacPherson struts, wishbones (f); multi-link, coil springs (r)
Brakes: ventilated discs (f); ventilated discs (r), ABS, EBD
Weight: 1560kg (unladen)
Price: $247,900

 

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