The Porsche 911 is one of the biggest motoring icons there will ever be, but one variant has always stood out to discerning gearheads throughout the car’s eight generation-long stint.
First unveiled in 1966 as the first safety cabriolet during a time when convertibles were deemed unsafe in the event they overturned, the 911 Targa was distinctive for its semi-convertible car body style with a removable roof section and full-width roll bar behind the seats. The car, named after Targa Florio — a road race in Sicily in which Porsche was very successful in — became hugely popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s, only to slowly decline as manufacturers revisited full convertibles with retractable hardtops and folding metal roofs instead.
The convertible ban never came to fruition, but the Targa continued to steal hearts around the world. Now that models of the 992-generation 911 have trickled out slowly, the world waited with bated breaths for 2021’s offering of this cult favourite — and it didn’t disappoint.
With design elements closely based on the old 991-generation model, the Porsche 911 Targa 4 and 911 Targa 4S still has plenty of retro flavour to spare without compromising on contemporary details. Its combination of soft top and glass rear window — once dubbed the future of convertibles — looks every bit as retro-futuristic as when it first launched, so if you’re looking for an iconic slice of automotive design history, this is it.
In keeping with the times, the new Targa now sports more powerful roof actuators, and the folding origami dance that ensues takes 19 seconds. That might be a little longer than the regular 911 Cabriolet, but as far as engineering poetry goes the Targa really knows how to draw an audience, especially when the entire rear glasshouse lifts up and slides back to await the soft top.
Unfortunately, because the massive clamshell hangs over the back of the car during this process, you won’t be able to do this on the move. Its parking sensors even turn on automatically to alert you of any wall, tree or stranger that might be at the back while this happens. Anything that appears within around 20 inches behind the car will halt the process immediately.
If wind noise bothers you, the Targa has a wind deflector that can be manually erected into the cowl panel frame to reduce drafty gusts while keeping the top down.
Targas haven’t always been choice 911s because they are, admittedly, almost 40kg heavier than their other counterparts, but that’s not to say that it isn’t fast. The standard Targa 4’s turbocharged three-litre six-cylinder powertrain receives a slight boost to 380hp while the Targa 4S gets 444hp, bringing its top speed to 286kph and 302kph respectively. The 4S finishes the century sprint in 3.6 seconds, while the baby Targa crosses the line in 4.2 seconds.
Both sports cars are fitted with eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (PDK) and intelligent all-wheel drive Porsche Traction Management as standard for maximum driving pleasure, although manual versions are likely possible if you’d like to properly recreate that old-school feel.