Porsche 911 Targa review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

Porsche 911 Targa reinvents original 1967 design with a unique folding roof

For: 
Stunning looks, impressive refinement, great handling
Against: 
Not as sharp as the Coupe, optional extras add up, back seats are useless

The Porsche 911 Targa has been around since 1965, when it debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show before going on sale in 1967. Since then, Porsche has continuously reinvented it until the removable soft-top turned in to little more than a large sunroof on the 993, 996 and 997 models. 

Now, though, for the latest 991-generation Porsche has gone back to the 1965 original by opting for a proper convertible set-up, including the same stylish wraparound rear screen and metal rollover bar. Unlike the 911 Cabriolet, the Targa is only available in 4 and 4S four-wheel-drive variants. It also comes with bespoke suspension settings and is priced at just below the Cabriolet.

Our choice: 911 Targa 4S

Styling

4.8

For the previous three generations of 911 there hasn’t been much differentiation between Coupe and Targa models but this latest model has a character all of its own. The brushed metal rollover hoop is borrowed from the very first Targa, as is the stylish wraparound rear screen. Since only four-wheel-drive models are available, you’ll notice that you get the light-bar running across the engine cover and wheelarches that stick out 22mm more than on rear-wheel-drive 911s. 

The 4S gets 20-inch alloy wheels, where the 4 gets 19s, but both come fitted with leather upholstery, sports seats and bi-xenon headlights. 

Driving

4.4

The Targa weighs 110kg more than the Coupe and 40kg more than the Cabriolet so it’s definitely not the sharpest 911 you can buy. Nevertheless, if you spec a Targa 4S with PDK and Sport Chrono Plus, it will be able to hit 62mph in 4.4 seconds – that’s a tenth down on the Cab and three-tenths down on the Coupe.

The figures aren’t wildly different, then, but you’ll notice that below about 4000rpm the acceleration isn’t quite as rapid as what you’ll find in a 911 Coupe. 

Porsche-911-Targa-4S-2014-drive-pan-2

Porsche has deliberately set out to make the Targa a little softer and you can feel it over rough roads, where it soaks up bumps much more comfortably than the Coupe. That slightly softer chassis and weight increase also means that final edge of sharpness that you find in other 911s is missing here.

It’s not bad to drive by any means – the steering, brakes and handling are all fantastic – but it’s just not the purest 911 you can buy. 

Reliability

4.4

Despite the high-profile fire issues with the Porsche 911 GT3, Porsche generally has an excellent reputation for reliability. It helps that the Targa engines and chassis components are used elsewhere in the Porsche range, with very few issues reported. 

In terms of safety, this is where the Targa comes in to its own – after all, the 1965 original was designed to bypass potentially stringent USA rollover regulations on convertibles. That aluminium bar provides great peace-of-mind when you’re driving, unlike the system that the Cabriolet uses, which relies on a pair of pop-up rollover beams. 

Practicality

2.5

The 991-generation 911 is supposedly the most practical yet but it’s worth remembering that this car is a sports car first and foremost. You get 125 litres of storage under the bonnet and 160 litres underneath the engine cover but neither is particularly useful unless you’ve got a couple of bags of shopping or a soft travel bag.

What you’ll probably end up doing is just using the rear seats as an extension of the boot. That’s because on the whole they’re not really good for much else. You can forget about getting adults back there but small children should be absolutely fine for short journeys. 

Porsche-911-Targa-4S-2014-drive-interior-01

This Targa version has a complicated roof mechanism that involves the rear windscreen moving backwards, but Porsche uses the standard-fit parking sensors to ensure it’s not going to hit anything as it moves. Having that wraparound rear screen means that visibility out the back is actually pretty good. 

Running Costs

2.9

This latest 911 is the most efficient yet, and it brings surprisingly reasonable running costs along with its supercar performance. In the 4S, the PDK-equipped cars are cleanest, boasting CO2 emissions of 214g/km and economy of 30.7mpg. Go for the seven-speed manual instead and those figures worsen to 28.2mpg and 237g/km.

The 4 is a bit better on running costs, with the PDK-equipped model boasting 32.5mpg. The 4S sits in insurance group 49, which is only one off the highest rating possible. Less powerful models are slightly cheaper to insure. 

Last updated: 7 Apr, 2014

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