The same familiar formula is still relevant

If you like the Targa top in your Corvette, you must know that Porsche did it first, in 1967. Now, the 992-generation of the ageless Porsche 911 continues the tradition and the latest Porsche 911 Targa will be introduced as a 2020 model year car and will feature the 444 horsepower 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged flat-six seen on both the Carrera S and the Carrera 4S. Expect it to cost at least $135,000, some $22,000 more expensive than a Carrera S. Blame it on that roll hoop that’s drenched in history.

Once upon a time, there was a road race through Sicily’s narrow, winding roads that awarded those that proved to be unphased by angry locals, that sometimes drew guns on the competitors, and the perilous condition of the tarmac in many areas of the Circuito delle Madonie. That race was the Targa Florio, launched in 1907 by rich entrepreneur Vincenzo Florio, that became a sort of a favorite for Porsche and its drivers, the brand from Stuttgart winning the race 11 times in less than two decades. How is this relevant to a 2020 Porsche? Read on to find out.

Update 11/27/2019: The Porsche 911 Targa was spotted doing some cold weather testing in Sweden. Check out the new images and a bit of new information below.

Spy Shots

November 27, 2019 – The Porsche 911 Doing Cold Weather Testing

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated)
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2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated)
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With winter pretty much in full swing in certain countries, it’s time for the Porsche 911 Targo to get in its first round of cold-weather and snow testing. That’s exactly what we’re seeing here. Naturally, there’s nothing left to hide for the upcoming Targa, so there isn’t a lot to report in terms of design changes (the last prototypes were without camo as well,) but if you look in the rear, this prototype is sporting a twin dual exhaust setup with one outlet looking legitimate and the other looking fake. This is similar to what the red prototype was rocking back in May of 2019, while the green prototype spotted in October 2019 was sporting that single oval exhaust outlet on each side.

The reasoning behind this is that the 911 Targa will be available in a couple of different flavors, and we have it under good authority that we’ll see the same Heritage Design Package that we saw on the 991 Porsche Speedster. With that will come the red exterior color that we saw earlier, a unique interior, and golden interior badges. With the progression into cold-weather testing, it’s likely that the 2021 Porsche 911 Targa will make its debut at the 2020 Geneva Auto Show in March of 2019. Stay tuned for updates.

October 22, 2019 - 911 Targa (992) caught testing free of camouflage

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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May 29, 2019 - Porsche 911 (992) Targa caught testing at Nurburgring

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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Exterior

  • Design left unchanged
  • Minus the Targa top, of course
  • Targa top available in satin black
  • The iconic three gills are there
  • Will feature ’Targa’ name on the back
  • Future GTS version maybe more aggressive-looking
2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
- image 837020

In April, we first got to see a number of 992-spec Porsche 911s testing with a Targa top, both on the road and at the Nordschleife.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the cars drove about without any semblance of camouflage, barring from a strip of tape in between the taillights where the Targa name will probably be spelled out in chromed lettering.

Also, it’s interesting to point out that the three gills on the vertical (but angled) bit of the roll hoop are there on duty. Also, the hoops seen on all the mules thus far are painted in satin black.

Will customers be able to choose the classic brushed aluminum finish? Maybe or maybe not or, in pure Porsche fashion, maybe there’ll be a special limited-edition model with a brushed aluminum Targa top that will sell for twice as much as a normal Targa which, in any case, will jaunt up in price compared with a standard 911 coupe.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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In the front, there’s nothing new to report.

The trunk's lid ends in line with the bumper, this being one of the few changes to the face of the 911 as it moved away from the 991 generation and into the 992 generation.

Also, the surrounds of the two grilles in the lower bumper are now slightly narrower with the indicators placed horizontally within two protruding bar-like elements. The grilles themselves feature three strakes while the recessed inlet in the middle also has some ultra-small openings.

From the side, the new 911 Targa looks fairly standard - electrical pop-up door handles included. A soft top - which seems to be identical to that of the 991 Targa - connects the Targa rear window with the body-painted A-pillars and you’ll also notice that the outboard edges of the taillights are covered by black tape. The angled, satin black roll hoop with its six gills, three on either side, gives away to the big wraparound rear window. The red example seen out and about testing sits on the usual 10-spoke, blacked-out rims.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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In the back, again, there’s nothing new.

The narrow full-width taillights are there, albeit with some masking tape in the middle, and so are the chromed bars of the hood's air vent, just before the active rear wing.

The chunky rear bumper, that’s really too straight and big for my liking, and that makes the 992-generation 911 look ungainly from the rear in my eyes, is also unchanged with the lower bit completed by the quad exhausts, the side vents with a thick strake separating the upper and the lower openings, and the number plate in the middle.

2020 Porsche 911 Targa exterior dimensions
Wheelbase 96.5 inches
Length 177.9 inches
Width 72.9 inches
Height 51.2 inches
Front track 62.5 inches
Rear track 61.2 inches

Interior

  • Updated dashboard
  • Digital gauge cluster
  • Digital 10.9-inch screen
  • Updated seats
  • Variety of personalization options
  • New infotainment system
  • Features Porsche Connect Plus
2020 Porsche 911
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The interior of the Porsche 911 (992) Targa will be unchanged from the coupe or the cabriolet.

What this means is that you’ll get the same digital screens on the two-tier revised dashboard, the same lowered seats and, throughout, the same typical Porsche quality of all of the materials in sight when you sit in the cabin. That’s good news if you like the design of the interior and bad news if you don’t, of course, but a quality interior can never leave one truly disappointed.

As you lower yourself in the driver’s seat, that’s now 0.2 inches lower than before; you look straight ahead at the typical Porsche steering wheel with its horizontal spokes filled with buttons. From between the leather rim and the spokes you can see the fully digital gauge cluster with the odometer in the middle (the speed is displayed below). Four other gauges are displayed, two to the left and two to the right of the odometer, Porsche trying to keep the traditional appearance of the analog gauge cluster of the past.

2020 Porsche 911
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The horizontal separation of the two-step dashboard now runs across the width of the dashboard with the top part opening to make room for the recessed central 10.9-inch screen of the infotainment system, this opening being a continuation of the opening made for the digital gauge cluster. A polished trim piece separates the two halves of the dash with the lower one featuring some old-school touches like the five toggles above the horizontally-mounted twin air vents that also look vintage.

The lower part of the center console, though, is anything but old-fashioned. It starts from just below the central vents of the A/C system and then goes down, the angled surface housing the shifter for the PDK transmission, two round knobs on either side and three other buttons shaped like those above the air vents. There are a few other toggles lower down between the seats on the black surround as well as on the central piece of the console itself.

Bloomberg reports that, due to the position of the steering wheel in relation to the two seven-inch screens that comprise the digital gauge cluster, you’ll sometimes have to move and crouch a bit in your seat to see everything the gauge cluster is showing you, but you’ll probably get used to it in a while.

2020 Porsche 911
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The infotainment system now comes with an improved Voice Pilot mode that allows for better voice control than ever before.

Effectively, you can now order the system to locate for you the nearest convenience stores, gas stations, or restaurants, but Android Auto or Apple CarPlay is extra.

Drivetrain

  • Same engine as in the Carrera S and 4S
  • A 3.0-liter, twin-turbo, flat-six
  • 444 horsepower
  • 391 pound-feet of torque
  • 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds
  • PDK automatic transmission
  • AWD will be optional still
  • 190 mph top speed with roof up
  • Targa GTS version will follow
  • A proper Targa Turbo is what we hope for though
2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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The 992-generation Porsche 911 rides on the modular mid-engine (MMB) platform and, for the first time, there is no narrow body and widebody 911, all 911s are just as wide, regardless if you buy a Carrera 4 or a GT3. The 992 is anyway 1.8 inches wider than the 991, and you’ll feel it when driving it. The steering is by rack-and-pinion as you’d expect while MacPherson struts carry you across the bumps in the front and a multi-link suspension setup is positioned in the back.

The engine is the same for both the Carrera 4 and the Carrera 4S, and this same engine will also power the 911 Targa.

I’m talking about the 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, flat-six that puts out 444 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 391 pound-feet of torque between 2,300–5,000 rpm. The power reaches the back wheels (or all four wheels if you go for the $7,300 option) through an eight-speed PDK transmission with flappy paddles (better than the old seven-speed unit, especially at lower speeds and when it comes to fuel economy).

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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Expect the Targa to be a bit heftier than the Coupe and the Cabriolet. For reference, the 991-generation Targa 4S was 88 pounds heavier than the Cabriolet and 242 pounds heavier compared to the Coupe.

We currently know that the available 992 versions range between 3,340 and 3,605 pounds, this being the curb weight. In spite of the added weight, I reckon the Targa will be just as spirited as its siblings.

How spirited? Well, we don’t know yet, but a Carrera S Cabriolet reaches 62 mph from a standstill in 3.9 seconds ( and 3.7 seconds with the $2,720 Sport Chrono Pack installed). Meanwhile, the 4S version is actually 0.1 seconds slower with or without the Chrono Pack. Top speed for the Cabriolet ranges between 189 mph and 191 mph.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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Now, for your own safety, you should pick, besides the AWD, also the night vision system ($2,540), dynamic chassis control ($3,170), and the park assist system ($1,430). The $2,770 nose lift kit will also be useful if you don’t live on a desert plain and, if you have the Chrono Pack installed, remember it gives you the option of choosing between two extra driving modes (on top of the standard Normal, Sport, and Wet options), namely the Sport Plus and the Individual mode. The Wet mode is clever enough to warn the driver when the car’s about to hydroplane and, subsequently, spear off the road. One thing you’ll probably want to pick if you want the engine to sound better is the $2,950 sport exhaust, but that will most definitely anger some neighbors if you live in a densely populated area.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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We know that a Targa 4 GTS will follow, but we also crave for a proper Turbo Targa like the one based on the 930 models from the '80s.

The 991 Targa 4 GTS put out 450 horsepower, featured 20-inch, single-nut, GT3-esque rims and cost $143,000 with no options selected. In total, it had 20 horsepower and 36 torques more than the standard 991 Targa, and it also sat 0.78 inches lower. Let’s wait and see what we get with the 992 Targa 4 GTS then.

2020 Porsche 911 drivetrain specifications
2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
Cylinder layout / number of cylinders Boxer 6 Twin-Turbo Boxer 6 Twin-Turbo
Displacement 3.0 l 3.0 l
Engine layout Rear engine Rear engine
Max. Power 443 HP @ 6,500 RPM 443 HP @ 6,500 RPM
Torque 390 LB-FT @ 2,300-5,000 RPM 390 LB-FT @ 2,300-5,000 RPM
Top Track Speed 191 mph PDK 190 mph PDK
Acceleration 0 - 60 mph 3.5 sec PDK / 3.3 sec (PDK with Sport Chrono) 3.4 sec PDK / 3.2 sec (PDK with Sport Chrono)

Prices

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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The 911 Carrera S Coupe starts from just $113,200, but that’s merely an illusion since you’ll never get away with paying so little given the ludicrous prices of almost any option out there. So you must also put in the back of your mind that a 991-generation 911 Carrera 4 cost just $105,100 bare or $112,000 for a 4S. The new 4S comes with an MSRP of $120,600, not accounting for the delivery, processing, and handling fee of $1,050.

The 992 Cabriolet meanwhile is even more expensive: $126,100 for the S (up by $8,700 compared to the old model and up by $13,000 compared to the S Coupe) and $133,400 for the 4S. Now, if we will get a Turbo Targa, you must take into account that the 992 Turbo Coupe will cost somewhere in the region of $167,000 with the Cabriolet priced anywhere between $174,100 and $203,000 (for the Turbo S). In other words, you’ll need really deep pockets if you crave for the ultimate open-air experience that’s not quite 100% open-air but still open-air enough!

Competition

2019 Chevrolet Corvette C7

2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Exterior
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Why the C7 and the C7 alone? Well, because, as far as I can tell, it’s the only other Grand Tourer that can be had with a Targa top. The C7 Coupe, as it’s been the case with every Corvette generation since the post-facelift C3, features removable roof panels. Unlike Porsche, though, Chevy equips the Corvette with a removable metal hardtop and not a soft top. But still, the rear window and the B-pillars stay put, and this is something that will probably go away with the introduction of the mid-engined C8, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case or not.

The last (for now) front-engined ’Vette is powered, in its basic trim, by a direct-injection 6.2-liter small-block V-8 engine known by everyone as the LT1. It can easily produce 460 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 465 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm, with the available performance exhaust system and 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet with the standard exhaust system. It can go from naught to 60 mph in under four seconds en route to a top speed that ranges between 180 mph and 190 mph depending on the version you pick - not including the really quick ZR1. In the transmission department, you can either go for a seven-speed manual with active rev-matching or an eight-speed automatic (that allows for a 3.7-second sprint from 0 to 60 mph and 11.9 seconds for the quarter-mile run).

On the C7, the steering is beefed compared to the C6, and you get five suspension modes as well as Brembo brakes for ultimate stopping power. The suspension itself is by double wishbone all around with monotube shock absorbers. You could’ve bought a Stingray Coupe for just $51,995 or more than half the price of a 911 Targa and enjoy the same experience with limitless headroom, bugs in your hair, and everything else in between but options weren’t that cheap: a carbon fiber roof cost $1,995 while the useful Magnetic Ride Control with Performance Traction Management went for $1,795 and you could push the price all the way to $75,625 for a 3LT with the Z51 performance package (that adds five horsepower to the total tally and can pull 1.03 Gs in corners). You definitely won’t find the top-notch materials that you would in a Porsche but are you really expecting to find’em inside a $70,000-odd sports car from GM? I didn’t think so.

Read our full review on the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette C7

Conclusion

2021 Porsche 911 Targa (Updated) Exterior
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The Porsche 911 992 Targa is a bit of a statement in my eyes. It isn’t just a car for those that want the Porsche no-roof experience; those will just get your run-of-the-mill cabriolet. No, this is a car for those that get the history and understand what a Targa is and what a Targa once was and why it makes sense to pay more for it. For most of us, it may not make sense but for those that will queue to buy it, it does, and that’s great because I’d hate to see such an iconic version of the 911 be retired due to poor sales.

On a different note, I really do hope Porsche is kind enough to stop keeping everybody hanging and starts offering the much-awaited (and much-desired) Turbo Targa. I know, all 992-generation 911s are turbocharged but what I mean is that people want to see a 911 Targa with the performance of a 911 Turbo. For reference, the original mid-’80s Turbo Targa of the 930 generation was powered by a 3.3-liter engine capable of 282 horsepower, a sub-five-seconds 0-60 mph time and a top speed in excess of 160 mph at a time when Ferrari’s beloved Testarossa offered 390 ponies from that wonderful V-12 and could go about 20 mph faster. The thing was that the Turbo Targa was the rarer of the two. For instance, in 1989, only 45 manual Turbo Targa examples reached U.S. soil.

  • Leave it
    • Will be more expensive than the Coupe and Cabriolet
    • Nothing has changed stylistically
    • If you want a Targa but not a Porsche you don’t have options

Porsche 911 Targa History

"Viva Porsche" - historic overall victory for Porsche 50 years ago
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Count Vincenzo Florio was a well-to-do aristocrat. He went up the ladder of wealth by dealing in the world of wine-making and, bitten by the automotive bug, set out to create a motorsport event in native Sicily after competing in a race in Brescia in 1905. He partnered with Henri Desgrange, editor of the French L’Auto magazine and one of the key figures in the birth of the Tour de France, unarguably the most famous event in the world of cycling. Florio took Desgrange on a tour of the island of Sicily in an effort to find a strip of road adequate for a race. It must be said that, back in those days, many of Sicily’s roads were lacking asphalt so, as you raced through the course, you most often had to contend with sliding around on dirt, as on a rally stage.

The two finally found a 93.2-mile long section between the picturesque mountains of Madonie. The strip of road was picked so that, when all the roads were closed on race day, it would form a circuit.

The Targa Florio was never an "A-to-B" style event like the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb race, for instance, it was always a circuit event, only that the circuit was made out of public roads that were only closed by local authorities on race day.

Practice would always happen with live traffic around. The first edition of the Targa Florio (the name effectively translating to ’Florio’s plate’ since the winner received in the early days a golden plate as well as an art nouveau-styled number plate by renown French artist Rene Lalique) took place in 1906, and it was a resounding success.

"Viva Porsche" - historic overall victory for Porsche 50 years ago
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Viva Porsche - historic overall victory for Porsche 50 years ago

As the years went by, the race’s popularity grew to the point that, for a while, it was the biggest race in Italy - bigger than both the Mille Miglia and the Italian Grand Prix. When, after World War I, the Germans returned to racing, they did it at the Targa Florio. The gorgeous route through Sicily was also the witness of some of motorsport history’s most prodigious drives like that of Achille Varzi in 1930, when he was Tazio Nuvolari’s team-mate at Alfa Romeo, the team managed by one Enzo Ferrari who, as a driver, competed a number of times in the Targa Florio, finishing second overall in 1920 and winning his class. Ferrari as a manufacturer won the race for the first time in 1948, the first edition held after World War II. Seven times did a car proudly displaying the Prancing Horse on its nose win the Targa Florio up until 1977.

But a certain German automaker, also featuring a logo with a rampant horse, won the race 11 times in far fewer attempts.

That automaker is Porsche, and its romance with the Targa is legendary. In fact, Porsche won the last Targa Florio to be part of the World Sportscar Championship, back in 1973. But, by that time, a car wearing the ’Targa’ name was already being produced by Porsche. The Porsche 911 Targa was created for the American market first and foremost, but its name was there to remind everyone that, on a certain ribbon of road in Sicily, Porsche is king.

1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) Exterior
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But the Porsche Targa didn't become the legend that it is today because it was named after a legendary race. It became legendary and highly recognizable because of that iconic design.

As it’s many times the case, the design came about as an answer to a problem, not as a decision straight from the stylistic department. You see, when the Porsche 911 was launched in 1963, Porsche already had established a rather sizeable footprint in the U.S., and its American clientele immediately jumped at the opportunity of owning a fixed-head 911. But customers in the sunny states pleaded Porsche to build an open-top, convertible version.

Unfortunately, due to the strict U.S. safety regulations, that roofless version could never pass the crash tests in place in the early ’60s and, as such, could never be registered and sold Stateside. To address the issue, Porsche engineers decided that, in order to increase the roadster’s structural rigidity, a fixed roll hoop had to be mounted aft of the seats, right where the side windows would end and where the rear quarter windows would begin. This roll hoop was certainly inspired by the roll hoops seen on racing cars. They came as a way to reduce deaths incurred by rollover crashes at a time when most sports cars were of the roadster variety. Broken necks were the norm if you rolled over in the ’50s, but early roll hoops did little to save you from that as they were barely taller than your helmet’s highest point.

1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) High Resolution Exterior
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However, the roll hoop of the first Porsche Targa, launched in 1967, was grand as it rose up as high as the roofline of the fixed-head coupe.

The roll hoop was finished in brushed aluminum and, behind it, there was a retractable soft top with a built-in rear window. Thus, you basically had a roadster with a roll hoop in place. But this isn’t the iconic Targa design we all know and love. That came about one year later when, in place of the fold-down section, a fixed curved greenhouse was mounted and connected to the roll hoop which, in turn, gained its now-trademark trifecta of angled gills on either side. The design endured the test of time, and you can find it almost unaltered (sans gills, though) on any 964-generation Targas.

2001 - 2004 Porsche Targa (996)
- image 27183

Then, on the 993, the Targa top was replaced by a full-on glass roof that basically extended from the front of the car all the way to the rear window.

The see-through panels were retractable if you wanted an open-air experience, but the design was a departure from the original Targa setup.

The 996 and 997 generations followed suit with a similar glassy roof Targa model but then, when the 991-generation arrived, Porsche reverted back to the classic Targa top to further cash in on its heritage. Happily, this design is back on the 992 and, by and large, stands as the only difference between a standard fixed-head coupe and a full-on roadster. That’s also because now, with the 992-generation, all 911s are widebodied.

Update History

Updated 10/22/2019: The upcoming 911 Targa (992) has been spied once again making its rounds on public roads.

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
About the author

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