Detroit’s climate in early January isn’t exactly ideal for open-air motoring, but that hasn’t stopped Porsche from unwrapping topless variants of the new 991-series 911 at the Detroit auto show. In 2012, the company unwrapped the latest 911 Cabriolet in the Motor City, and it’s following up by unveiling the new 2014 Porsche 911 Targa at the 2014 Detroit auto show this week.
The basic premise of the Targa has remained essentially unchanged since its introduction in 1966. A removable top panel provides a convertible-like experience while a fixed roof section and wrap-around bar provided some rigidity and rollover protection. The formula changed only twice: in 1968, a wrap-around glass window replaced a removable plastic screen, and in 1996, the familiar “Targa bar” and panel were eschewed in favor of a large, retractable glass moonroof which retracted at the touch of a button.
As spy photography suggested, the new 2014 911 Targa returns to its roots, at least aesthetically. The hallowed Targa bar returns, as does a fabric roof section over the front seats, along with a massive wrap-around rear window that apes the roofline of a 911 coupe. Porsche fans thrilled by pseudo-retro models like the 911 Sport Classic might love the Targa bar itself, as its silver finish and faux gills echo those on early 911 Targa cars.
Despite the visual throwback, the 2014 911 Targa’s roof system is anything but old school. The entire system is power-retractable, and arguably one of the most sophisticated convertible tops on the market. Push the button to retract the top, and the rear window pops open and tilts backwards. Two flaps in the Targa bar flip open, and the fabric roof section is unlocked, folded into a Z, and tucked behind the rear seats. Porsche says the entire process takes only 19 seconds – six seconds longer than it takes a 991-series 911 Cabriolet to stow its folding fabric roof.
If the mixture of soft top and fixed roof sections cries all-weather vehicle, so does the 2014 911 Targa’s drivetrain. As was the case with the last 911 Targa, the 2014 911 Targa is essentially a derivation of the 911 Carrera 4/4S, and is available only with all-wheel drive. 2014 911 Targa 4 models are powered by the 911 Carrera’s standard 3.4-liter direct-injection flat-six-cylinder engine, which generates 350 horsepower and 287 pound-feet of torque.
When fitted with the standard 7-speed manual transmission, the 2014 911 Targa 4 is capable can hit 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and a top speed of 175 mph – roughly three-tenths of a second slower to 60 than a 911 Carrera 4 coupe, and only a tenth of a second off the 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet’s pace. Blame the difference on weight, as the 2014 911 Targa 4 is roughly 242 pounds heavier than a comparable 911 Carrera 4, and 88 pounds heftier than a 911 Carrera 4 cabriolet. Opting for the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic and Porsche’s Sport Chrono package whittles the 2014 911 Targa 4’s 0-60 time to 4.6 seconds, although top speed subsequently drops to 174 mph.
If that still isn’t quick enough, step up to the 2014 911 Targa 4S. Like the 911 Carrera 4S, the Targa 4S is powered by a 400-horsepower direct-injection 3.8-liter flat-six. Manual Targa 4S cars are still slightly slower than their coupe and cabriolet counterparts, but are hardly slouches. 0-60 mph blasts take only 4.2 seconds, and boast a top end of 183 mph. Opt for PDK and Sport Chrono, and these figures fall to 4.2 seconds and 182 mph, respectively.
Much like its roof design, 2014 911 Targa pricing effectively bridges the gap between comparable 911 Carrera 4/4S coupe and cabriolet models. Porsche says a 2014 911 Targa 4 carries a suggested retail price of $101,600, including destination. That’s roughly $9575 more expensive than a 2014 911 Carrera 4 coupe, but it’s also $2325 less than a 2014 911 Carrera 4 cabriolet. Likewise, the 2014 911 Targa 4S’s base price of $116,200 falls between the $106,625 2014 911 Carrera 4S coupe and the $118,525 2014 911 Carrera 4S cabriolet. Look for U.S.-spec 2014 911 Targa models to arrive at dealers this summer.