November 13, 2006

Photo Gallery: 2007 Porsche 911 Targa4 and Targa4 S

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As of this writing, Porsche has twelve 911 variants – if you count regular and ‘S’ versions – and there are at least three more on the way; Turbo Cab, GT2 and GT3 RS. To that you can probably add a Turbo S and Turbo S cabriolet somewhere down the road bringing the total to seventeen or so. With all those choices, how do you choose one and why would you want a Targa in particular?

Well, the Targa is every bit a Porsche and that means you’re buying the most winning brand in automotive race history. Even if you don’t care much for motor sports, the thing is, all that winning is distilled directly into their cars. No other, and we mean absolutely not one, feels like a Porsche. The steering is alive in your hands, the chassis swivels around the tightest of bends, the brakes defy physics such is their ability to eradicate speed, and the body, well, the body is one of the sexiest shapes ever pounded into metal. Aside from all that you get to choose from the aforementioned staggering variety of 911s – the most versatile of which is this Targa. Porsche invented the concept in 1978, the car being named for the Targa Florio road race that was conducted in Italy from 1906 to 1977. Porsche invented the first Targa in 1965 when new US safety requirements for convertibles dictated some sort of roll over protection. It had a manually folding roof and rear window which left only the Targa bar.

The 2007 Targa is available as either Targa4 or Targa4S both having standard AWD and the Turbo’s wider rear hips. The base, if you can call it that, is a 3.6-litre flat six punching out 325-hp, and the ‘S’ gets 3.8-litres of displacement and 355-hp. If you are feeling especially frisky you can drop $23,700 on the Carrera ‘Power Kit’ and raise the stable to 381 bucking horses. Bolt them up to either a slick, mechanical six-speed manual or five-speed Tiptronic with steering wheel thumb buttons for shifting – you can also use the gate and toggle up and down through the gears.

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If you’re gonna get a Porsche, you might as well get the fastest one you can afford. Although the base engine is no slouch the ‘S’ has meaningfully more oomph and it sounds better too. I haven’t driven the power kit version but 26-hp for 24-grand hardly seems like a good deal to me. If you opt for the ‘S’ you also get bigger brakes, wheels and tires and Porsche’s active suspension as standard, not to mention the extra power.

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The Targa’s roof is a Magna designed sub-assembly and it plops right into the Targa’s unique greenhouse that is built up from the AWD Cabrio’s structure. The backlight has a lot more glass area than the coupe’s rear window and it has the added benefit of opening like a hatch. For anyone who has struggled with fitting luggage into the back seat/storage area of a 911 the glass hatch is a huge step forward in convenience in what is arguably the world’s only daily-driveable supercar. I wasn’t completely sold by the revised window line and the thick chrome accent until I saw it in person. The Targa has a dash of luxury that other Carreras forsake for their more hard-edge performance image.

Does it have options you might ask? Yes, to say the least. It is one of the greatest things about specin’ a Porsche – virtually no two are alike.

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In fact only two a year come off the line absolutely identical. The option list can be daunting but there are a few features you really shouldn’t do without. To whit, go for the optional sport seats with the full leather interior, also be sure to get the “Sport Chrono Package’ and the high-end Bose Audio system. One of the sexiest options, for car enthusiasts at least, is the availability of ceramic composite brakes. At $11,800 they are anything but cheap. That being said they need to be experienced to be believed. You can stop from 200 kph all day long without a hint of fade. You also get hard looking 6-piston front calipers in bright yellow paint. The Targa4 starts at $119,400 and the S $133,200 but you should consider those numbers as a starting point.

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Where it really gets crazy is when your dalliances lead you towards custom colours like the Dark Teal Metallic for $4,290. Better still you can have them paint your car to a sample you provide. That will only run you $6,050. Try the Adaptive Sport Seats for $3,770 and have the whole interior covered in leather for $5,290 more. Check every single box you can and a Targa S can be tallied up to $221,839, a figure that’s beyond absurd and not really the point of Porsche’s extensive option list. Unlike just about every other luxury marque, save Bentley and Rolls perhaps, Porsche allows you to truly customize your car. Only two identical 911s come off the assembly line every year and there are over a million possible variations. Leather door finisher, carbon-fibre console, aluminum seat back, paint that matches your childhood pedal car, leather to match your favourite shoes, etc…etc…

A lot of people buy a silver or black 911 right off the showroom floor but many choose to buy the car they’ve always wanted, equipped the way they want and even choose to take delivery of the car at the factory in Stuttgart and drive it on the roads it was meant to be driven on. The Targa and Targa S are the perfect Porsche for the Canadian climate; all weather AWD traction and an open roof experience for the few pleasant days we get. Properly equipped they are not only two of the most distinctive sports cars on the road, they are two of the most capable.

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