Open sesame: the Porsche Targa

 
Ryan Borroff
I’VE been wanting to drive a 911 Targa for a while and here’s why. For all the clever engineering and folding tin-top balletics seen on many sports coupes in recent years, there is no getting around the fact that I am not fantastically taken with convertibles. Sure, I can appreciate what a wonderful experience it is on a sunny day to drive with the roof down but the truth is I can’t stand all of that buffeting for long. I also like being able to talk comfortably when accompanied and relax and listen to music when alone.

Porsche’s Targa model has always been a bit of a niche product in the 911 range. It doesn’t sell so many, even in the UK, which has long had a love affair with open-top motoring. Yet it promises the exhilaration of a convertible with the comfort of a coupe.

Getting in the car, it’s immediately apparent how bright and airy the cockpit is. Then with the blind closed, the effect is similar to driving a regular 911 coupe. But it’s when you open the roof itself that things get really interesting. Gracefully, the roof (and blind) slide all the way back in front of the rear screen, like a massive sun roof that doesn’t stop. And the effect? Well at speed there is some wind noise, but not much, and you really do get the sense that you are having an open top experience – yet you can still talk to your passenger.

The problem is that with the roof rolled right back it’s impossible to see what’s behind you in the rear view mirror which means reversing is tricky. I chose to close the roof in order to park, though specifying a park assist option would be sensible. But even out on the open road, visibility behind is limited to say the least. And police cars are hard enough to spot as it is.

Which is a little disconcerting because the car is fast. The 3.8-litre flat six is refined and quiet if you choose to pootle about and as easy to drive as a VW Golf. The engine produces 385bhp and has a top speed of 183mph, and the acceleration is wondrous – 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds. It’s all I can do not to accelerate really quickly everywhere up to the speed limit just because it’s so much fun. Mature it isn’t. But then if I was mature I would be doing a different job.

The steering is direct and the steering wheel – in shape and weight – feels so nice I find myself toying with it when stationary. It’s just a lovely thing. Gear changes are quick and accurate thanks to the 7-Speed PDK gearbox. The handling, of course, is stick-to-the-road. We were fortunate enough to have the car over a particularly glorious weekend when being able to let the sunshine in without the wind felt like a wizardly trick.

This latest-generation Targa is available only with four-wheel drive, which means the Targa’s body is wider at the rear. But after the winter we’ve just had it will be interesting to see if sales increase here in the UK as a result.

So convertible or coupe? The Targa is something of an all-rounder. There is even plenty of storage with both of the rear seats folded, enough for two people for a week I reckon, and easily accessible via the glass tailgate. Most surprising of all was that I managed to average almost 30mpg from the centre of London to Colchester and back. That too was a surprise. If you’re buying a 911 for the first time I would advise trying this one. It’s multi-talented – which is a rare thing in a sports car – and for some people could be a perfect solution because it’s so easy to live with.

THE FACTS:
PORSCHE 911 TARGA

price: £97,787
0-62mph: 4.7secs
Top speed: 183mph
CO2 g/km: 251g/km
MPG Combined: 26.4 mpg

THE VERDICT:
DESIGN
PERFORMANCE
PRACTICALITY
VALUE FOR MONEY