Porsche 911 Targa, the mechanical marvel

Above-average January temperatures in Detroit created an appropriate backdrop for Porsche’s newest mousetrap, the 2014 Porsche 911 Targa.

The biggest change for the Targa – a model that dates to 1965, almost to the 911’s genesis – is an automated system to stow the roof panel.

Removing the roof in previous Targa iterations was a wholly manual operation. At their press conference on 13 January, Porsche executives seemed giddy as they demonstrated the one-touch removal and stowage of the panel. In a feat of packaging, given the 911’s rear-engine layout and comically small rear seats, the roof is stored just aft of the passenger compartment. To watch its operation is to witness a mechanical ballet.

Styling and drivetrains of the coupe carry over unchanged. There is the 3.4-litre 350-horsepower flat six-cylinder engine specified for the Targa 4, with the hotter Targa 4S squeezing 400hp from its longer-stroke 3.8-litre engine. Both models are available with either a seven-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The Targa models are set to reach showrooms in the United States, with base prices in the low six-figure range, just in time for summer – a much sweeter season to remove the roof and kick the tail out, quite stylishly.