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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:42 pm    Post subject: Vicki Butler-Henderson reviews 997 3.6 Mk2 Targa 4 Reply with quote

Vicki Butler-Henderson

Assuming all the important things in life are in place — your family, a home, a job — the list of things you actually need isn’t very long. I don’t need a super-surround sound entertainment system, or six-piece electric drum kit with optional tambourine function, and I’m sure I’d get by without a 10-seat leather sofa wrapped in duck-egg-blue ostrich hide. By the same token, I don’t need a Porsche 911. But I’d do pretty well anything to get one.

When it comes to Porsche 911s, I’ve always been a Carrera 2 girl. There is something about the two-wheel-drive version of the car that just seems right. But perhaps the latest-generation Targa, which is available only with four-wheel drive, could prove me wrong. I’m very fussy, though, particularly when £71,443 is at stake.

The Targa is the last of the 911 model line-up to be given the new-generation genetics, which amount more to internal changes than external. Certainly at first glance there is little to differentiate this Targa from its predecessor.

In fact, discretion was clearly the designer’s brief — his brush strokes have barely blown one degree of extra curve across the snout and tail. The Targa shares its coupé body with the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 and 4S, with wider hips than the rear-wheel-drive 911s. And actually, I’m really pleased the shape hasn’t evolved too much because its simple arcs aren’t just good to look at, they are also a pleasure to lather up. No other car has me reaching so keenly for the chamois.

The Targa’s telltale trimming along its roofline remains exclusive to it. This is a good thing because the metallic trim is an easy target in a game of motorway I-spy. And with 14 variations of the 911 currently on sale, status-garnish such as this is very important to Porsche owners.

Even if you can recognise it, the chances of you actually seeing one on the road are small. Last year 2,777 911s were sold in the UK; just 190 were Targas. And this means that while I know I’m about to experience the motoring equivalent of a Michelin star every time I slip behind the wheel of a 911, slipping into the Targa is even more of a tasty treat.

The name itself isn’t derived from some obscure weather phenomenon or ancient Roman empress, but from a Sicilian road race in which Porsche once competed, and it’s also Italian for “shield”. It’s a darn sight sexier than “glass roof”, which is what it would have been called had it been built in the West Midlands. Or “the best way to see bird poop”, as a colleague observed.

I’m sure it’s also a massive hit with lorry drivers, thanks to the 1.54 sq metre window cum roof through which they can admire not just the car’s curves. The only glare this glass can deflect is from the sun.

And it’s this bit of the car that makes the Targa a Targa — it may look like a coupé but it can act more like a cabriolet once the roof is open, welcoming the elements in, but keeping the wind out. Leave the blow-dry to the cabriolet, with its barnet-bashing credentials and frumpy shape.

In a mere seven seconds the Targa’s top, complete with sun blind, glides backwards so gracefully that it can mesmerise a hypnotist. It’s a visual delight of engineering.

There are some problems, though: when the two-piece roof finally tucks itself beneath the tailgate, it obscures your view when reversing. This will force most buyers to order the £300 ParkAssist option to “beep” you backwards. Clever, this, because of course, it’ll be just one of the thousands of extras Porsche knows you’ll run out of ink ticking.

The roof may be exclusive to the Targa, but the engines aren’t. It comes with both the new 911’s flat-six engines — a 3.6-litre and 3.8-litre — which have more power and fewer emissions than before.


>Competitive Porsche Insurance <


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Porsche News
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Posts: 7145

PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I drove the smaller of the two, which produces 345bhp, hits 62mph from standing in just over 5sec and has a top speed of 176mph. But it’s between 1mph and 70mph that it will spend most of its life and this is where the engine is at its best. Fun-seekers rejoice, because the punch this car whacks out in first gear alone is devilishly good. So much so you’ll be accelerating hard from a standstill wherever and whenever possible. Juvenile? Yes, of course.

But when the road eventually opens up it will take the restraint of a monk to resist giving it some serious welly in all six gears. I’m no monk. When pushing hard on the throttle, the engine’s instant response forces you deep into the seat — itself as snug as one of those memory foam mattresses, only much more attractive. Grabbing third, fourth and fifth gears leaves you wishing the road wouldn’t run out.

The gearbox needs a reasonable amount of strength and precision to move through, and the gearstick — which looks to my eyes even more phallic than usual — raises a wry smile. Who says the Germans aren’t humorous? The all-new braking system is just as manly, but you don’t need to be heavy-footed for heavy stopping.

And, oh, the steering. It is so alert it could catch the SAS napping. The wheel is the perfect diameter, rim thickness, weight and feel and I simply can’t fault it. Each turn unlocks that Michelin star handling.

By nature the Targa is four-wheel drive, which gives great traction in tricky conditions, and which is why so many of them reside in the Alps.

But the Targa can also mimic the handling characteristics of a rear-wheel-drive 911. Disengage Porsche’s traction and stability control function and your safety net disappears in a tail slide. If you’re feeling as switched on as the car is capable, you’ll never arrive at your destination lacking a smile.

Alternatively, should you be in the mood to meander, the Targa is the epitome of laidback etiquette. It’s even quite practical, with just enough room in the back for me (5ft 5in and a bit), or lots of luggage. And then there’s the useful boot in the front.

But are its versatility, great looks and achingly brilliant handling enough to warrant the money? Five years ago it would have been an emphatic yes. But today there’s Aston Martin’s stunning and sonorous V8 Vantage Roadster, Audi’s everyday supercar, the R8, and Maserati’s exotic GranTurismo.

These are all great cars, but they are not two cars in one. And that is what the Targa is: a brilliant-handling coupé and a seat-of-the-pants cabriolet. And even for £71,000 that’s a bargain.

Everyone needs to own a 911 at least once, but they must accept they’ll be just one of a crowd. Which is where the Targa stands out.

Porsche 911 Targa 4

ENGINE 3614cc, six cylinders

POWER 345bhp @ 6500rpm

TORQUE 287 lb ft @ 4400rpm

TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual

FUEL 26.6mpg (combined)

CO2 249g/km

ACCELERATION 0-62mph: 5.2sec

TOP SPEED 176mph

PRICE £71,443

ROAD TAX BAND G (£400 a year)


Vicki's verdict

>Competitive Porsche Insurance <


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a brilliant review and I am sure well warranted Thumb . However, given the amount of press in these pages on 911 engines allegedly made of cheese, I don't think, knowing the way she likes to drive them ie as they should be, I would not like to buy Vicky's 997 with 20000 miles up!! Sad
Remember, he who pushes luck, pushes pram.
997 C2S now sadly gone......for now
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