Without naming names, certain automakers churn out the same ‘ole thing time after time to a collective eye roll and yawn by the car-loving public. It’s like every new Nickleback album; they all sound the same. But there are a few companies, like Porsche, that can produce a vehicle whose design remains remarkably unchanged for the better part of 40 years and yet continue to impress. For 2009, the AC/DC of the auto world (to keep the analogy going), has delivered the newest 911 Targa models that remain loyal to the original.
Not a convertible, not a coupe, the Targa’s sliding glass roof combines the best of both worlds and comes standard with a sunshade for privacy and UV tinting that prevents passengers from getting sunburned. With very few exceptions, Porsche is historically extremely dogmatic about infusing the same sports car mentality into every new car and the new Targa is no exception. The powertrain and technology updates applied to the other 911 models for 2009 are happily present in the new Targa which receives one of two new, direct-injected engines that are mated to either a six-speed manual or a new seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automated manual. In Targa 4 form, drivers enjoy a 3.6-liter flat-six that produces 345 horsepower and a Porsche-reported top speed of 176 mph. The Targa 4S version receives a 3.8-liter engine with 385 horsepower and is supposedly capable of 184 mph. New for 2009 is a standard, electronically-controlled, multi-plate-clutch all-wheel-drive system. Porsche says the system is based on the AWD system from the 911 Turbo. Like the 2009 Carrera 4 models, there’s also a locking rear differential for better performance. The Targas also receive the same LED daytime running lights and taillights as other 2009 911 models. 0-60 mph comes in either 5 seconds, or 4.7 for the slightly more powerful Targa 4S. Some of the notable driving features of the Targa area a new Porsche Traction Management (PTM) four-wheel drive system that distributes power and torque equally from front to rear under normal driving. The real world application when driving is that it sends more power to the front when oversteer is monitored or more to the rear during understeer. Also part of the Targa’s lineup of racing-inspired features is a seven speed double-clutch transmission, known as the PDK, that comes with a Launch Control function as an option to further add to the car’s acceleration.
The exterior of the Targa exudes the exceptional history of Porsche while the interior sports both the latest comfort and connectivity applications being applied to new cars. The Targa recieves the latest version of Porsche’s touchscreen audio and navigation system which serves as the central control unit for all audio (iPod, MP3 and USB compatible) and communication (satellite navigation) devices. Both the front and rear seats offer ventilation and cooling controls as options. Though, the rear seats are so small that they are only practical for use as storage for luggage and not adults. Prices for the less powerful 2009 Targa 4 is $89,500, while the 4S can be obtained for $100,100. While other companies struggle to build the next thing, Porsche keeps cranking out more of their greatest hits.