If you’ve been waffling between the fresh-air feel of a convertible and the all-around security of a coupe, Porsche’s latest update to its 911 Targa could make your decision simpler. Since the 1960s the model has straddled the line between rag and hard tops with its retractable glass roof. This year’s powered design will take you from sheltered to al fresco in less than 20 seconds.
The original Targa, created to avoid an anticipated ban on conventional convertibles and named for a Sicilian road race, featured a hoop roll bar. The retractable glass roof and removable rear window operated manually. With typical German ingenuity, the latest take on the concept is a complex, power-operated design that tucks the top glass under the rear engine cover. It operates with a one-touch mechanism that quickly offers a great sense of being out in the open, while being easy to close in bad weather. But it’s still fun on a chilly day with the top retracted, the side windows up and the heater blowing. And, compared with convertibles, you get better security from break-ins and the protection of a roll bar.
After its brief absence, this Targa has returned in two configurations that include Carrera 4, with its 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat six pushing out 379 horsepower to all four wheels. The Carrera 4S bumps that to 443, or 23 hp more than the prior generation.
Power comes on instantly, the familiar Porsche burble transformed into a guttural roar—especially in the sport mode, which opens up the variable exhaust. Handling is intuitive, with the feeling of being at one with the machine. The new active dampers keep the car glued to the pavement under hard maneuvers, while smoothing things out during a casual drive.
Feeling the wind in your hair doesn’t come cheap. The 2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4 starts at $121,300, the 4S at $137,200. But, if you’re looking for a high-performance sports car that gives you the benefits of blending a coupe and convertible into one dynamic machine, it’s a hard package to beat.