Porsche puts a modern twist on a classic model: 2014 911 Targa 4 revealed

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/ Updated: January 14, 2014 1:22 PM PST
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DETROIT -- You may be asking yourself, "Why would anyone buy a 2014 Porsche 911 Targa 4 when the perfectly good 2014 Porsche 911 Cabriolet 4 already exists?" I know that's the first question that popped into my head at the new model's unveiling at the 2014 Detroit auto show. Then again, if you were born after 1989, you may just be asking yourself, "What the hell is a 'Targa'?"

According to Wikipedia, a targa top is a "semi-convertible car body style with a removable roof section and a full-width roll bar behind the seats. The term was first used on the 1966 Porsche 911 Targa, and it remains a registered trademark of Porsche AG." The last Porsche 911 Targa was built in 1989, presumably because the automaker had figured out how to make a proper convertible model that didn't require the driver to fumble with a removable roof panel.

Jumping back to today's unveiling in Detroit, the Targa returns to Porsche's already extensive 911 lineup, but with a modern twist: the new Targa has a motorized fabric roof.

At the touch of a button, the 2014 911 Targa 4's wraparound rear glass window lifts up and tilts back, revealing a roof storage area behind the seats. Meanwhile, the fabric roof panel detaches from the windscreen and folds backward over a fixed roof hoop and beneath the glass. Finally, the rear glass returns to its position, leaving most of the 911's coupe profile intact and the air above the driver open.

What the classic Targa required the driver to exit the vehicle to do, the 2014 model accomplishes at the touch of a button in seconds. Personally, I think the whole motorized glass bubble is a bit unnecessarily complicated and theatrical when compared with a simple folding fabric roof, but even I have to admit that the resulting silhouette of the wraparound rear window and the silver Targa roof bar is pretty slick, particularly when viewed from the rear quarter. This is quite a good-looking ride.

The 2014 Porsche 911 Targa is available in two trims: Targa 4 and Targa 4S. As the numeric suffix implies, both are all-wheel-drive models, featuring the wide body and Porsche Traction Management that you'll find on any other all-wheel-drive 911s. Both are available with the same manual and PDK dual-clutch automatic transmissions from the rest of the 911 lineup. No surprises here.

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In the rear, you'll find one of two engines. The 911 Targa 4 is powered by a 350-horsepower flat-six that displaces 3.6 liters. The more potent 911 Targa 4S bumps the displacement up to 3.8 liters and the power up to 400 horsepower.

Porsche 911 Targa 4
You can't see it beneath the rear glass, but the 911 Targa is powered by one of two possible flat-six engines. Josh Miller/CNET

When equipped with the PDK and the optional performance-sharpening Sport Chrono package, the Targa 4 will hit 60 mph from a stop in 4.6 seconds, going on to a top track speed of 174 mph. The faster 4S hits 60 in 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 182 mph.

Prospective Porsche drivers who want a bit of nostalgia with their open-air motoring will be able to grab a 2014 911 Targa 4 and 4S for $101,600 and $116,200, respectively, when deliveries begin just in time for summer.

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