Porsche 911 Targa 4S: Al fresco driving opens up 911's desirability
Porsche has reintroduced the open-air Targa model to the 911 line-up. Might it be the best of a highly desirable bunch?
SINCE its debut in 1964, Porsche's 911 has been the definitive everyday sports car.
While it has grown in weight and girth over the years - haven't we all? - the 911 has also gained the power to more than compensate, giving it performance that would have been almost unthinkable more than half a century ago.
It's too expensive and exclusive to be considered a 'people's car', despite a family tree that includes the Volkswagen Beetle, but if you did find yourself with the funds to gain entry to the 911 club, which version should you choose?
With 55-plus years of honing behind it, it shouldn't surprise anyone that there isn't really a dud note in the line-up.
The range-topping Turbo is possibly the quickest way yet invented to cover ground on four wheels but there is a persuasive argument that the most 'basic' entry level Carrera model is the sweetest and most satisfying 911 of them all.
However, the car on this page might just be the best of the bunch. It's the Targa, a sort of mash-up of hard-top and convertible that somehow manages to blend the best of both worlds while looking fantastic in the process.
The roof is the car's party piece. Push a button, and after some complex motorised choreography, the roof section above the cabin is stowed, leaving the deliciously curved rear window in place to deliver a convincing impersonation of a full-convertible's open deck.
The Targa gets the 911's four-wheel-drive chassis, and comes with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder 'boxer' engine complete with twin-turbos.
The 'standard' version makes 380bhp and 332lb ft of torque, with the beefer 'S' model pumping out 444bhp and 391lb ft.
The way the all-wheel-drive system fires the Targa out of corners is a particular addictive highlight
It's an undoubtedly fantastic engine that loves to be revved out, and as is always the case with Porsche sixes, it sings high in the rev range.
There's a good reason why the Porsche 911 is one of the class leaders, thanks to its fantastic driving characteristics and spot on driving position.
These attributes are all present and correct in the Targa, which is immediately comfortable, whether cruising in traffic, opening up on the motorway, or pressing on down a back road.
The Targa might be a little heavier than the coupe but you'll be enjoying yourself too much to notice, and it's still a very quick car. The way the all-wheel-drive system fires the Targa out of corners is a particular addictive highlight.
Drop into the cabin and it's clear Porsche has spent a lot of time making it ergonomically brilliant.
It is easy to find a correct driving position, and most buttons are within easy reach, while the infotainment system is one of the best in the business - its menu design looks smart and is intuitive to navigate.
It's also surprisingly spacious for a sports car, so long as you're sitting in the front; rear passengers of even average height will be hoping the journey is short.
That's about the only criticism you can level at it, though, with the practical layout complemented by brilliant materials throughout.
Standard equipment on the Targa 4S is extensive. In addition to active suspension and torque vectoring, it comes with 20-inch alloy wheels at the front and 21s at the rear, leather upholstery, four-way electric sports seats and that fantastic widescreen infotainment system.
A visit to the options list can see the price really escalate, though. There are three more alloy wheel designs that are the same size as the standard ones but range in price from £809 to £1,679, adaptive 'sports seats plus' for £2,315, an upgraded leather interior for £7,899, and a huge variety of exterior upgrades...
Those looking for absolute and outright performance will look elsewhere in the 911 range. But the Targa feels like it might be the best compromise of the lot for performance, style and sports car practicality.
It's hugely desirable too - as well it should be, with a price north of £98k for the Targa 4 and £109k for the Targa 4S.
But before deciding whether the Targa is the 911 for you, bear in mind that the same £10k premium it commands over the relative Carrera hardtop also buys you a fully al fresco 911 Cabriolet. Decisions, decisions...