You might think of the Porsche 911 Targa as the original hardtop convertible. First introduced back in 1967 and drawing inspiration from the German automaker’s motorsports program, it’s been an essential part of the automaker’s line-up ever since. And now, it’s making a return for the 2021 model year.
Porsche’s take on what others call a “T-top” might not satisfy true convertible fans – for which there’s also a 911 option – but the Targa has traditionally struck a responsive chord with those in cool weather climbs who like coupes but occasionally want the option of going al fresco.
For 2021, Porsche will offer two variants, the 911 Targa 4 and the 911 Targa 4S. And, as the nomenclature reveals, both will be offered exclusively in an all-wheel-drive configuration. Better yet, the 2021 Porsche Targa siblings cut nearly a half-second off the launch times of the outgoing models, the 4S able to hit 60 in a mere 3.4 seconds when equipped with the Sport Chrono package, the four getting there in a flat 4.0.
The other number that counts: you’ll be able to open up the coupe with a touch of a button in just 19 seconds.
Porsche, of course, has a long history of delivering open-top automobiles. But, like many manufacturers, it was worried that the new safety standards going into effect back in the late 1960s might effectively ban the production of convertibles. So, it went looking for a solution and found it over on the track side of its operations. But instead of adding a conventional rollbar, it went with a flattened “hoop,” stretching the width of the car. The approach had multiple advantages, not only providing passenger protection in a rollover but also making for a stiffer body than with a conventional ragtop.
As for the name, Porsche also turned to the world of motorsports, borrowing part of the name of that classic Italian race, the Targa Florio.
Throughout the years, Porsche has tinkered with the open-top mechanism a number of times. The original, convertible-like removable plastic backlight is long gone. The new approach is complex, albeit quick, and definitely adds mass, the new Targa models weighing in a hair short of 200 pounds over the comparable coupe versions of the 911.
The numbers suggest most buyers likely won’t even notice, however. The “base” Targa 4 is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six making 379 horsepower, enough to run it up to a top speed of 179 mph. The retuned engine package in the 4S gets that up to 443 hp, the top speed climbing to 188 mph.
In a telling sign, Porsche has made an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox its stock transmission, though buyers can order the 4S with a seven-speed manual. Power is then sent to all four wheels, biased to the rear under normal circumstances.
As with any 911, straight-line acceleration is almost an afterthought. It’s all about handling and the two Targas carry over all the right essentials from their 911 coupe alternatives, starting with a two-mode adaptive damping system and the standard Porsche Active Suspension Management. If you stick with the DCT gearbox – PDK in Porsche lingo – the 4S also rolls out of the factory with the active electronic differential and Porsche Torque Vectoring system – which can be ordered as an option on the 4.
Among the endless options is the Sport Chrono package, as well as carbon-ceramic brakes.
Visually, the two Targas differ only in the obvious ways, both inside and out, from the latest-generation 911 coupe, known to fans as the widebody 992 family.
Prepare to dig deep into your pocket for the new models. The 2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4 will set you back $120,650, if you can resist checking any of those option boxes. That’s $14,600 more than the outgoing 2020 edition. The Targo 4S, meanwhile, jumps to $136,550. Look for them both to reach showrooms late this year.