2010 Porsche 911 Targa4
2010 Porsche 911 Targa4. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2010 Porsche 911 Targa

In my experience, reviews of Porsche automobiles typically conclude with the same observation: the cars are wonderful and we should all have one. True, there is the occasional variation on this theme as the reviewer struggles to maintain objectivity, but usually said driver is having such a blast in the loaner Porsche that critical perspective evaporates at the first turn of the key (or the first turn in the road).

Forgive me in advance if this piece on the 2010 Porsche 911 Targa 4 ends up the same way, but I will try something different concerning the car that transported www.Autos.ca’s Managing Editor Grant Yoxon and I to the 2010 New York Auto Show. Rather than asking whether the car measures up to expected standards, I’m thinking more along the lines of whether we measure up to it.

After all, they don’t sell Porsches to just anybody, you know (okay, they do), but aside from the vulgar subject of money ($149,875 for this particular car, if you have to ask), there are your abilities as a driver, your reputation and your personal aspirations to consider.

2010 Porsche 911 Targa4
2010 Porsche 911 Targa4
2010 Porsche 911 Targa4. Click image to enlarge

Let’s take a closer look at the subject car: the 2010 Porsche 911 Targa 4. Targas go way back with Porsche, but for the past few years they’ve evolved from the removable hardtop of the 1970s and ’80s to a full glass roof that opens by sliding under the rear window as required. You can quickly identify the modern 911 Targa by its angular rear side windows.

The “base” version of this vehicle, just for the record, is $113,700 plus $1,085 destination charge (a $17,000 premium over the 911 Coupe), but the typical buyer won’t be satisfied with that because new Porsches – as buyers will know – are canvases for self-expression. When presented with the formidable and legendary Porsche options book, eager buyers will dive in and select all manner of upgrades and flourishes to personalize the car; maybe making it one of very few just like it on the planet. Indeed, it could be unique.

Our test vehicle, for example adds $35,090 worth of options to the base price, including Atlas Grey Metallic paint, Sand Beige Interior, aluminum shifter and handbrake, power comfort seats, seat ventilation, Sports Exhaust System, Dimming mirrors, Porsche Active Suspension Management, Dynamic Cornering Lights, Bluetooth, Sport Chrono Package Plus, Navigation module, Universal Audio Interface, painted model designation for rear lid, gear lever and trim strip painted exterior colour, and 19-inch Carrera Sport Wheels painted in exterior colour.

Of course, if you were to order this car, you should be the kind of person who doesn’t really need to know the cost of these individual items (but I’ve supplied them below for the inquisitive masses). While you’re scanning the list, notice the interesting blend of performance, appearance and functional items.

2010 Porsche 911 Targa4
2010 Porsche 911 Targa4
2010 Porsche 911 Targa4. Click image to enlarge

This car isn’t over-the-top in any one dimension; expensive, yes, but it’s tasteful – understated, even – as much as any Porsche can be understated. The grey painted wheels, in particular, make this car really stand out, without yelling.

Like the 911 Carrera Coupe, the 911 Targa is powered by a 3.6-litre, horizontally opposed, six-cylinder engine (flat-six) making 345 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 288 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. As this is a Targa 4 (there is no Targa 2), all four wheels are permanently driven; the system is biased toward rear-wheel drive (up to 40 per cent of power can be directed to the front wheels).

Our test vehicle is fitted with a six-speed manual transmission, but a seven-speed double-clutch “automatic” called the PDK is also available for an additional $5,560. Either way, the car is very quick, reaching 100 km/h from a standing start in 5.2 seconds, with a top track speed of 284 km/h. Yes, it’s a couple of tenths slower than the Carrera 2, but I’d venture that most drivers wouldn’t notice.

As a potential buyer, knowing how to drive these cars – or at least having some respect for their performance – is highly recommended. Let’s face it; you don’t really want to be the kind of person who exits the Porsche dealership with a missed shift.

To this end, you can take performance driving courses, join your local Porsche club and participate in track days, and even head down to Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama and get some instruction from some of Porsche’s factory race drivers. It’s all part of the ownership experience. Porsches are not hard cars to drive, but they do drive better with a knowledgeable person behind the wheel.

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