by Adam Lynton
The original Porsche Targa arrived back in 1967 and it may never have seen light of day had it not been for concerns that a pending American legislation was about to ban full convertibles.
See trim levels and configurations:
Early cars were basically convertibles with a metal rollover hoop, later Targas lost the classic profile and received a large glass roof instead. The latest 911 Targa has been a welcome return to form though with the added bonus of an electrically folding roof section.
The Targa variants retain the interior of their coupe and convertible stablemates, material quality is excellent and while the latest technological innovations are present, there are also subtle historic design cues. The recently updated infotainment system works well although there are still a fair number of buttons and switches along the center console.
Front seats are supportive and even as standard there are a wide range of adjustments to ensure that most shapes and sizes will find it comfortable.
Despite the addition of the folding Targa roof mechanism, the rear seats are still present but they remain useful only for young children or shopping bags.
The added weight of the folding metal roof and standard all-wheel drive system do make the Targa 4 and 4S the heaviest in the 911 range, although only a back to back comparison would highlight the differences.
While it gives away a little bit of precision and sharpness to the coupe when pushing its still very high limits, in most normal driving conditions the Targa performs well above the norm. There are few rivals out there that can match the Targa's road manners and it backs its cornering abilities up with seriously effective brakes.
Thanks in part to the wide tires, road noise on certain road surfaces can be a bit intrusive but with the roof up the cabin is well insulated. The ride is firm but comfortable too, impressive considering the massive diameter alloy wheels and low-profile rubber.
The Porsche 911 Targa 4 is equipped with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-6 engine and produces 370 horsepower along with 331 lb-ft of torque. The Targa 4S ups these numbers to 420 hp and 368 lb-ft. Both are available solely in all-wheel drive form and can be equipped with either a 7-speed manual or 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission.
While it is commendable of Porsche to offer a manual transmission, the PDK option provides better fuel economy and quicker acceleration times too, for example the manual Targa 4 completes the 0-60 mph sprint in 4.5-seconds, this drops to 4.1-seconds with the PDK transmission and Sport Chrono launch control.
The 4S PDK with launch control cuts this time down even further to 3.8-seconds. Those are very quick numbers, well up to the best in class and hardly any slower than the lighter coupe models. Concerns about turbo-lag are unfounded and either model will impress with its accelerative abilities.
The Porsche Targa is available in either 4 or 4S trims. The base Targa 4 features a 370hp engine, 19-inch alloy wheels, 4-way power front sport seats, park assist front and rear, touchscreen infotainment system with integrated Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity as well as an 11GB hard drive music storage system.
A selection of Premium Packages are also available and depending on the level chosen include LED headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, front seat heating and ventilation, keyless entry and ambient LED lighting.
The Targa 4S adds the 420 hp engine, 20-inch alloy wheels and also has some unique available options such as a Sport Package which includes rear-axle steering, sport exhaust, sport chrono, GT sport steering wheel and unique exterior mirrors. The Powerkit Package includes all of these items and increases engine power by 30hp. Porsche dynamic chassis control is also reserved for the Targa 4S.
Notable individually options for both models include a front axle lift system, Ceramic composite brakes and a range of interior finishes from leather and Alcantara to carbon fiber and aluminum.
The 2018 Porsche Targa remains a fantastic choice for shoppers looking for performance, technology and daily usability in one package.
The modern take on the Targa theme has definitely breathed some new life into the concept and it now offers a compelling combination of coupe-like solidity combined with open-top excitement. Don't get too carried away with the options list though as it can soon push prices uncomfortably high.
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