You can get them dotting old used-car lots or drowning the ‘P’ area of the local Craigslist, and you can find them cheap. Countless 911 Targas seem to have been driven daily, callously treated like Volkswagens, and sold for less. The 2014 Targa may change that.
Stiffer-softer and bodied-sprung than the 991 Cabrio and aimed at a driver more inclined to cruise than cane, the Targa is a comfortable way to cover ground. The 350-hp Targa 400 and 4-hp Targa 4S both have all-wheel drive and the accompanying Porsche widebody. Both of Porsche’s seven-speed transmissions are available; the manual adds a measure of fun over the quickness of the PDK automatic. Either is lovely. However the best feature is standard equipment: the curbside theater.
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No heavy lifting is required; the press of the mouse sets in motion something similar to mechanical performance art. The back window, an enormous thing created from layered, lightweight, laminated glass, lifts on spindly steel legs and it is moved thus far back and out of the way the 911’s rear parking sensors had to be recalibrated. It’s thus far that the brake lights are almost entirely covered-among several factors why Porsche decided to limit top operation to when the car’s at a standstill.
The lifted top looks like a robot jellyfish, getting around so delicately that it appears weightless. Then a Targa bar, available only in brushed aluminum, unfolds a pair of ear-like panels to enable access to get more robot arms to lift the cloth-covered magnesium roof out of the way. It folds itself so that it appears like a robot octopus and after that disappears inside of the robot jellyfish, and just like that, you’re roofless. It’s robot magic.
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It took watching the amazing procedure up close once or twice or 40 times to quit being annoyed at Porsche for making such a damn complicated thing as opposed to, say, a modern 912. And don’t look at the inevitable service costs, nor the poor mechanic that has to align one of these roofs during crash repair. Because you know what? I like it.
This 911’s interior is quiet enough on an elevated conversation at highway speed, although targas were once a buffeting cacophony. An eyebrow spoiler atop the windshield frame can be raised to further control wind thrum. The only real trouble seems to come from the roof’s rear seal, which constantly mumbles the sound of two balloons touching each other if the roof is installed. Porsche knows it’s a problem and it is fiddling with it.
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Porsche claims that scavenging some engineering from the 911 Cabriolet helps make the Targa slightly cheaper than that car: $102,595 for the Targa 4 and $117,195 for the 4S. The key stuff-comfort, daily drivability-is all improved over the Cabrio. And the Targa looks more elegant, too. The Targa has spent 50 years because the least-desirable an affiliate the 911 family. Appears like no more.