Porsche 911 Targa coupe (2006 – 2012) expert review

By Kyle Fortune, 28th September 2009

The verdict

A niche model within the extensive Porsche 911 model line up, the Targa is a 911 for practical sun-lovers.

Interested in this car?

View new Find used

Expert rating:

4.1

Pros

  • Performance, style and practicality
  • Useful hatchback rear end
  • Four-wheel drive traction

Cons

  • Neither Cabriolet nor coupe
  • Not as sharp to drive as other 911s
  • Interior not special enough

Full Review

1. Exterior

The Porsche 911 Targa is something of a unique proposition in the 911 line-up. To some the Targa represents little more than a fancy sunroof, but to others it’s a proper model line in its own right. Certainly it looks subtly different, with the addition of its large sliding glass roof and hatchback-opening rear window differentiating it from the regular 911 Coupe. The red strip joining the rear lights adds some more visual interest at the rear, while in profile a differently shaped side rear window and a chrome detail strip accentuate the 911’s lines.

Our rating: 5

2. Interior

The exterior might look different and special, but inside the Targa is business as usual for Porsche. It all works with extraordinary precision and it feels like it’ll outlive its owner, but it’s short on style inside. The touch-screen interface for the stereo is good, but with the sun streaming though the Targa opening you might find the finger smudges annoying. Press a button and the glass above you slides away behind the rear window. The driving position remains typically excellent, and the view out is great – if a little restricted at the back with the roof open.

Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

The Targa gains and loses on the practicality stakes. In the back with that glass roof open the headroom is tighter than usual, but if more interested in using those seats as additional luggage space then the Targa has a useful additional feature. The rear glass opens, hatchback style, allowing luggage to be easily dropped into those back seats. It’s so useful we wonder why Porsche doesn’t add an opening rear window to all its coupes. The under bonnet luggage area is useful enough, though it’ll need to be packed with soft luggage.

Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

Based on the 911 Cabriolet rather than the Coupe, the Targa isn’t quite as stiff as the latter. The suspension is slightly more compliant as a result, though the ride improves thanks to that. The steering retains the usual 911 levels of feel, but there’s less inclination to push the Targa as you might its coupe relative. All Targas have four-wheel drive, meaning surefooted traction, but it never feels quite as involving a driving experience as other 911s. There’s the usual 911 trait of tyre noise, and the Targa roof squeaks a bit as it moves with the body.

Our rating: 4

5. Performance

The 911 Targa is offered with a pair of engine and transmission choices. The standard Targa 4 makes do with a 3.6-litre flat-six with 345bhp, while the Targa 4S gets a 3.8-litre engine with 385bhp. The former manages the 0-62mph sprint in 5.2 seconds and the 4S in 4.9 seconds. If you opt for the quick, smooth seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox over the slick six-speed manual you’ll drop those times by 0.2 seconds.  The 3.8-litre unit obviously feels faster, but the 3.6-litre is arguably the sweeter engine, its low-rev response crisper and it loses little elsewhere in the rev range.

Our rating: 5

6. Running costs

The Targa won’t cost any more to run than its coupe alternatives. Average fuel consumption on the Targa 4 is 28mpg, while the Targa 4S returns 26.9mpg. Choose that PDK gearbox and those figures worsen slightly, as do CO2 emissions. Insurance is group 50 for all versions. Porsche servicing is very reasonable given the performance the 911 delivers, though consumable parts like brake pads and tyres won’t be cheap thanks to their high-performance nature.

Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

Unlike most performance car brands Porsche has a solid reputation for reliability. The 911 really is a car that can be used every day and few suffer significant gremlins. We’ve heard no reports of leaky roofs from the Targa, either.

Our rating: 4

8. Safety

Standard xenon headlamps and stability and traction control, combined with four-wheel drive and Porsche’s legendary brakes with anti-lock means an impressive arsenal to avoid an accident. Although it’s not been crash-tested, the Targa should provide excellent crash protection with front, side and window airbags, load limiting pre-tensioner seatbelts and fixed headrests.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

Like the rest of the 911 range the Targa owner is likely to spend a while perusing the extensive options list to create their perfect car. All the basics are there, with climate control, alloy wheels, a CD player and a touch-screen interface to control the infotainment system. For a telephone connection, sat-nav, cruise control and a full leather interior, extra will need to be paid.

Our rating: 3

10. Why buy?

We’re not sure to be honest, as the Targa is something of a half-way house. We love the hatchback and the styling, but the price you pay for it is a drive that’s not quite as exciting or involving as elsewhere in the 911 range. The Targa opening isn’t huge either – it’s certainly not quite the wind-in-the-hair experience some might expect. However, we’re big fans of the extra practicality.

Our rating: 5

Expert review 4.1stars

  • Exterior5
  • Interior3
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance5
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment3
  • Why buy?5

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

Targa 4

Entry-level engine is quick enough

Best-seller:

Targa 4S

More power, but not much more fun

Blow the budget:

Targa 4S PDK

Pricey and not the best 911 to blow your cash on

The red strip joining the rear lights adds some more interest at the rear, while in profile a differently shaped side rear window and a chrome detail strip accentuate the 911’s lines