2021 Porsche 911 Targa: What Makes This Sports Car So Special?
Porsche has been manufacturing its iconic rear-engine 911 sports car since the early 1960s, but a very unique model – a hybrid cross between a full convertible and a closed-roof coupe – debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1965.
The two-door featured a steel hoop – much like a thick roll bar – that extended just aft of the passenger’s heads to protect them in the event of a roll-over. Closing the rear of the cabin, to eliminate drafts, was a fold-down plastic window that could be substituted for a heated glass rear window for an additional cost. The small folding roof panel over the passenger’s heads could be left off, for open-air driving, or the occupants could secure it into place for a coupe-like driving experience.
This innovative Porsche, with that was both a convertible and a coupe, was called the Targa. (The name was pulled from a famous road race in Sicily called the “Targa Florio.”)
Fast forward more than half-a-century and Porsche is still offering the Targa in today’s 911 lineup. But unlike those early models, which required the collapsible top to be manually removed and stowed during open-top driving, today’s model, the 2021 Porsche 911 Targa, features an innovative, fully automatic and motorized transitioning roof that goes from closed to open in just 19 seconds at the touch of a button.
Today’s Targa model retains the celebrated styling of the 1960s car with astonishing similarity. The proportions are nearly perfectly retained, and Porsche even emblazons the characteristic “Targa” model designation on each side of the hoop.
Yet there are striking technological differences beneath the skin. The original vehicle boasted a foldable metal frame skinned in vinyl for its roof, which was manually removed and stowed. The 2021 model boasts a lightweight magnesium panel, complete with sound and temperature insulation, which motors away at the touch of a button
The opening and closing operations are executed with the precision of a fine ballet. Each motor, pulley, and cable patiently wait for its opportunity to pirouette allowing the entire rear decklid to be lifted off the back of the sports car – and held in that position – so the roof may be retracted and stowed.
With the roof open, the Porsche 911 Targa offers its passengers a riding experience with fresh air overhead. With the roof closed, the outside environment is kept distant, and the dual-zone climate control maintains the temperature.
Most open-top vehicles compromise storage and space, but not the 911 Targa. The 2+2 cabin offers generous room for two front passengers (six-plus footers will find accommodations comfortable) and two small seats in the rear. While they are only sized for children, both seatbacks fold to increase cargo capacity when they are not in use. In addition, the rear-engine configuration of the 911 means there is a substantial “frunk” (front-mounted trunk) in the nose of the Targa – it’s large enough to swallow a pair of 22-inch roller suitcases.
Speaking of engine, Porsche fits all Targa models with a horizontally opposed, 3.0-liter, flat-6 engine. The six-cylinder powerplant boasts a pair of turbochargers that enable it to develop 379 hp/331 lb-ft of torque in the Targa 4 model, and 443 hp/390 lb-ft of torque in the Targa 4S model. The standard transmission is an 8-speed “PDK” dual-clutch gearbox.
Performance is Porsche-like, which means blistering acceleration (the 0-60 sprint takes fewer than four seconds in both models) and driving dynamics that will please even the most discerning enthusiast. Ignore all naysayers who say Porsche puts the engine at the wrong end of the vehicle as the additional mass over the rear wheels aids both acceleration and braking – literally improving the way the sports car performs.
All-wheel drive is standard on both the Targa 4 and Targa 4S, which further improves traction regardless of the surface or season. The 911’s steering is among the best in the business, and Porsche brakes remain an industry benchmark.
It goes without saying that the Porsche 911 Targa is an absolute joy to drive.
Many automakers continue to sell nameplates with 50-plus years of production history (the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette come immediately to mind), yet Porsche has accomplished something that no other automaker has been able to duplicate – today’s 911 Targa retains the celebrated styling of the 1960s car with astonishing similarity.
While most consumers would be challenged to see the evolution of the Mustang and Corvette over five decades, even the most uninitiated passer-by would be able to see the striking resemblance between the original 1967 Porsche 911 S Targa and the new 2021 Porsche 911 C4S Targa – that is a unique and notable triumph that makes the Targa a very special, and timeless, stand-out.
Published at Sun, 21 Mar 2021 02:05:39 +0000