Porsche 911 Targa (2003)

Porsche 911 Targa

Neither coupe nor cabriolet, but in many ways the best of both, the 2003 Porsche 911 Targa provides the latest update of a sliding glass roof design first used on the previous-generation Porsche 911 Targa, offered in the U.S. in 1996 and 1997.

"The Targa has been one of Porsche's most popular niche vehicles," says Frederick J. Schwab, President and CEO, Porsche Cars North America. "It provides our customers with a unique vehicle that provides them both open-air motoring and the ease of use of a sunroof, albeit a very large glass sunroof."

The first 911 with a rear-opening hatch

The latest Porsche 911 Targa expands on the concept of the previous model, which introduced a large power-operated glass roof that slides under the rear window. The biggest difference from the previous Porsche 911 Targa is that the rear window in the new model is hinged, opening to provide convenient access to the rear luggage compartment.

The Porsche 911 Targa is the first 911 to feature a rear hatch opening. The glass hatch opens either by the electric release located near the doorsill or remotely from the key fob. In either case, it requires only a slight lift, and then gas-pressure struts hidden behind the window trim open it the rest of the way. When the hatch is lowered, an automatic closer pulls it fully closed.

In the 2003 911 Targa, folding down the rear seatbacks provides 8.1 cubic feet (230 liters) of cargo space, compared to 7.1 cubic feet (201 liters) in the 911 Carrera Coupe. The increase is due mainly to different interior trim to accommodate the glass roof.

Unique sliding glass roof

The 2003 Porsche 911 Targa offers a clear view of the sky through more than 16 square feet (1.5 square meters) of glass, more than any 911 model ever. Pressing one button activates two electric motors that quietly open the roof by nearly 20 inches, (0.5-meter), providing a roof opening of nearly 700 square inches (0.45 square meters), nearly twice the size of the 911 Carrera Coupe sunroof opening. The roof is made of the same pre-tensioned laminated safety glass as the windshield.

When the glass roof opens, a wind deflector deploys at the leading edge, reducing turbulence and allowing open-air driving, even in colder weather. Porsche designed the deflector to keep wind noise to about the same level as that of the 911 Carrera Coupe with sunroof. A cloth sunblind automatically extends out beneath the glass roof when closed to protect occupants from the sun's heat and glare (glass has UV tinting, too). The blind also provides an additional layer of insulation from cold weather.

Unique upper body structure

While previous Targas were based on the body architecture of a convertible, this newest generation is built on the 911 Carrera Coupe platform, which brings additional strength and structure for superior rigidity.

The seatbelt anchors differ from those in the 911 Carrera Coupe and are located beneath the wider roof pillars. The roller housings are larger, with enough room for built-in lights that illuminate when the rear glass hatch is opened. The roof also opens remotely with a dedicated button on the key fob. In addition, the driver can open the roof and side windows with the remote control by holding down the door-unlock button for more than three seconds. Holding the lock button for more than three seconds closes the roof and windows.

All 911 models are built with structural enhancements. Porsche designed a unique upper body structure for the Porsche 911 Targa to ensure the strength and safety expected of any Porsche vehicle. Using an idea borrowed from the 911 Cabriolet, Porsche engineers reinforced the A-pillars internally using 1.2-inch (30-millimeter) thick high-strength steel tubes. In the Porsche 911 Targa, this extra steel reinforcement extends all the way back to the C-pillars and is welded to the body structure through junction plates. The B-pillars extend upward into the roof rails to provide optimal side strength. This Targa-specific engineering ensures torsional and flexing strength on par with the 911 Coupes.

Special suspension tuning

The Porsche 911 Targa, which weighs about 150 pounds (70 kg.) more than the 911 Carrera Coupe, features its own spring and shock absorber tuning to give it the same handling capability as that model. The additional weight has minimal impact on the car's performance: the Porsche 911 Targa accelerates from zero-to-62 mph (100 km/h) in just 5.2 seconds, compared to 5.0 seconds for the 911 Carrera Coupe.

Targa heritage

The first Porsche 911 Targa model presented a truly innovative approach to open-air motoring when it was introduced to North American customers in 1967. (Porsche did not introduce a 911 Cabriolet model until 1984). Before introducing the first 911 Coupe in 1965, Porsche had traditionally sold a large proportion of open cars. Porsche designed the 911 Targa model so the company could offer an open-air car in the event that new safety regulations eliminated true convertibles.

The first Porsche 911 Targa featured a large, removable hard roof section over the doors. A stainless-steel-covered structural hoop over the mid-section of the car provided both additional body reinforcement and a unique (and often imitated) design element. Behind the hoop, a soft roof section folded down under a tonneau cover.

For 1968, buyers could choose a fixed, wraparound glass rear window on the Porsche 911 Targa, and this became the standard design for 1972. While over the years similar roof designs have been called "targa roofs," the name Targa as it applies to automobiles is a Porsche-owned trademark.

The 911 Carrera Targa model continued with this body configuration until 1993. By then, the popularity of the 911 Cabriolet had reduced demand for the original roof concept of the Porsche 911 Targa. Porsche engineers accepted the challenge of inventing a new body style to appeal to the sizeable portion of 911 buyers who still wanted something in between a sunroof and a true convertible. Their answer arrived as the sliding glass roof for the 1996 Porsche 911 Targa, a concept enhanced for the 2003 model.

Though the word "Targa" translates into "shield," the name was not derived from the car's roof design. Rather, the name stems from Sicily's classic Targa Florio ("shield of Florio") road race, first run in 1906. Porsche cars had enjoyed much success in the Targa Florio in the 1960s and 1970s, winning a record 11 times overall in dedicated racecars. A Porsche 911 Carrera RSR won the last "original" Targa Florio race in 1973. Today, a historic Targa Florio race runs through Sicily. Interestingly, a racecar designed by Ferdinand Porsche called "Sascha" won a class victory in the 1922 Targa Florio.

A true 911 under the glass roof

The Porsche 911 Targa shares its 3.6-liter, 315-horsepower (SAE) engine, 911 Turbo-inspired front-end styling and interior enhancements with other 911 models, including the Carrera Coupe and Cabriolet and the Carrera 4S. In profile, the Porsche 911 Targa can be distinguished by its sharply tapered rear side glass, but its coefficient of drag is the same as the 911 Carrera Coupe - 0.30.

These 911 models underwent styling changes a year ago, but the design changes were not just cosmetic. The front air intakes increased airflow to the radiators by 15 percent. Reshaping the radii of the front wheel arches and the addition of small, flexible spoilers ahead of the front wheels has reduced lift at the front by 25 percent and 40 percent at the rear. In addition, new air intake ducts enhance front brake cooling, and a new under floor duct enhances transmission cooling by 20 percent.

Like the 911 Carrera models, the Porsche 911 Targa shares its instrument panel with the 911 Turbo. The standard onboard computer conveys information on an LCD display within the tachometer. In addition to information about fuel consumption and driving range, the computer can display engine oil level, outside temperature and 35 different warning messages in plain text.

The Porsche 911 Targa benefits from the same interior enhancements as other 911 Carrera models, including a three-spoke sports steering wheel and redesigned center vents. The remote entry system controls seat memory function when the optional power seats are ordered. The remote determines which of the four car keys is in use and transmits the information for driver's seat position and exterior mirrors to the memory control unit. Apart from the function provided by the four programmable keys, the driver can select two other seat positions via buttons to the left of the seat.

The lockable glove box and a cupholder integrated into the center dash add convenience, while matte surfaces for the switches enhance tactile quality. The optional Parking Assist with sensors integrated into the bumper covers can help prevent parking maneuver "fender-benders" by sounding an audible alert as the car gets closer to an obstacle. The front trunk is equipped with an anti-entrapment release with internal handle, and the car keys feature a color Porsche crest.

All 2003 Porsche models feature light-emitting diode (LED) interior orientation lights. One LED provides gentle illumination of the cockpit and center console. An LED on the driver's side door handle illuminates the ignition lock and light switch, and an LED illuminates each door latch.

Optional Bose audio

An optional Bose digital sound system combines balanced stereo, a panoramic sound stage, deep bass and smooth frequency response to produce lifelike music reproduction even in the challenging environment of a car interior. Digital amplifiers provide clean, uncolored sound at any listening level. In the Porsche 911 Targa, the 11 advanced loudspeakers, including a subwoofer, blend seamlessly into cabin trim, raising and widening the sound stage and ensuring balanced stereo.

Communicating at the speed of light

Porsche's new Communication Management system (PCM) comprises tuners, CD player, navigation system, and trip computer, all linked through Media-Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) digital databus. The MOST system incorporates light-wave conductors that exchange data between the individual components without loss of quality and at ultra-high speeds.

PCM includes a 5.8-inch color screen with its 16:9 aspect ratio and 12-position keyboard for easily and efficiently entering radio frequencies. The system assures excellent audio quality.

The navigation module provides such features as road junction zoom-in, dynamic navigation to avoid congestion, map scrolling so you can see beyond your current position, tour planning with the ability to memorize as many as eight destinations in a row and a CD-ROM system that can be used for the navigation system or for music.

315-horsepower engine

Power is provided by Porsche's 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer engine. The engine produces 315 horsepower (SAE) and 273 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm. An aluminum cylinder block and heads make the engine light. Patented LOKASIL high-silicon cylinder liners help reduce friction and wear to such a level that Porsche can recommend a 15,000-mile (24,000 km) oil change interval and a 30,000-mile (48,000 km) oil filter change interval.

VarioCam Plus valve timing and lift system adjusts camshaft position to provide continuously adjustable valve timing and incorporates two camshaft profiles and two sets of tappets to vary both valve lift and duration. The system helps broaden and smooth out the torque curve while helping to reduce emissions. The dual-stage resonance air intake system - optimized for the larger displacement engine - also helps boost power and torque at midrange engine speeds. The 911 engine produces at least 236 lb.-ft. from 2,500-7,000 rpm and a midrange torque "plateau" of at least 265 lb.-ft. from 3,800-6,000 rpm.

Sequential multi-port fuel injection features separate fuel mixture control for each cylinder bank, and a coil-on-plug ignition system provides quick response and reliable operation. The ME 7.8 engine control module incorporates the E-Gas electronic throttle. In place of a traditional throttle cable setup, E-Gas electronically transmits pedal position to the engine control unit. Mufflers with less backpressure than those on previous 911 models emit a more powerful sound through newly designed oval tailpipes.

Aluminum suspension components

The four-wheel independent suspension features a Porsche-optimized MacPherson-strut design in front and a multilink setup in the rear, both with aluminum suspension components to reduce unsprung weight. Front and rear stabilizer bars and gas-charged shock absorbers provide flatter cornering. Standard power rack-and pinion steering yields a quick 2.98 turns lock-to-lock and a tight 34.8-ft. (10.6-meter) turning circle.

Carrera II alloy wheels

The standard "Carrera II" aluminum alloy wheels measure 17 x 7 inches in front and mount 205/50 ZR17 tires; the 17 x 9-inch rear wheels mount 255/40 ZR17 tires. The optional 18-inch wheel/tire package further enhances the already sharp handling. The wheels measure 18 x 8 inches in front and 18 x 10 inches in the rear; tires are 225/40 ZR18 in front and 285/30 ZR18 in the rear.

Racecar-derived brakes

The 911 Carrera Targa not only owes its name to Porsche racing heritage, but its brake technology, as well. The four-wheel vented disc brakes with ABS 5.3 anti-lock control are derived from the Porsche GT1 racecar. The "monoblock" (one-piece) brake calipers reduce heat and unsprung weight. The front discs measure 12.5 inches in diameter and 1.1-inch thick (318 mm x 28 mm). The rear discs measure nearly as large at 11.8 inches in diameter and 0.95-inch thick (299 mm x 24 mm). The cross-drilled discs dissipate heat to maintain braking performance and brake feel even under hard usage. (Porsche requires brakes to provide 25 consecutive full-force stops without fade.)

Porsche Stability Management

The optional Porsche Stability Management system (PSM) can enhance handling under a variety of driving conditions. Using data from several sensor inputs, PSM can detect a loss of grip at the front or rear and reduce instability by applying braking to individual wheels and, if necessary, altering engine power.

On slippery roads, PSM can help keep the Porsche 911 Targa going in the direction the driver steers. The PSM system operates so quickly that most drivers likely will not feel the corrections. The driver can disengage PSM with a dashboard switch. However, for safety, PSM will engage under braking and then disengage whenever the driver lifts off the brake. While the system provides dynamic handling aid, Porsche cautions drivers that PSM cannot counteract the laws of physics.

Choice of transmissions

Porsche offers a choice of two transmissions on the 2003 911 Targa: a precisely shifting standard six-speed manual and the optional Tiptronic S five-speed automatic.

Porsche increased the torque capacity of the manual transmission last year by using stronger alloy steel on key components. In addition, the output shaft runs in three bearings instead of two, and the differential uses stronger bevel gears. As before, a dual-mass flywheel ensures low vibration, and a hydraulic clutch provides consistent performance.

The Porsche 911 Targa adopts the Tiptronic S transmission from the 911 Turbo, which can handle greater torque output. The lock-up torque converter and shifting programs have been specially tailored to the naturally aspirated engine.

In automatic mode, Tiptronic S uses infinitely variable shift points to respond to the driving circumstances and the driving style. During leisurely driving, Tiptronic S will upshift early to provide a quiet ride and the best fuel efficiency. With quicker gas pedal action, the transmission responds by raising shift points to hold each gear longer for crisp response and power. The Tiptronic S transmission draws from among 250 different shift maps to provide optimal performance at all times.

Even while in automatic mode, the computer-controlled Tiptronic S responds like a driver working a manual transmission, downshifting or holding lower gears when cornering and driving on hills. Tiptronic S allows the driver to select manual mode by pressing an up- or downshift button, even with the shift lever in the "D" position.

Safe by design

With the high performance potential and open-air driving pleasure of the Porsche 911 Targa comes a high level of occupant protection. A patented crumple zone body structure protects the reinforced passenger compartment. New seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters supplement the three-point inertia-reel seatbelts in all 911 models for 2003. All new Porsche models include dual front airbags plus the Porsche Side Impact Protection System that includes boron-steel door reinforcement beams, energy-absorbing door panels, and door-mounted side airbags. The 30-liter capacity sidebags provide additional protection for the chest, head, and pelvis, as standard equipment.

At a customer's request, a U.S. Porsche dealer can install a system that deactivates the passenger front and side airbags when a Porsche-approved child seat is used. The system features a cross brace with belt lock in front of the passenger seat. Buckling the special child seat into this brace deactivates the airbags. To install the system, the dealer also must reprogram the airbag control module.