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25 May 2021

Special measures: A curiously quintessential legacy

Beautiful details showcase the best of Porsche’s famous bespoke design department, but Matt Master wonders if the pricey sum of its parts will still split opinion

As we look towards a summer of events marking 60 years of PCGB, an interesting example of Porsche’s own approach to past and present arrived this month, in the shape of a Heritage Design Edition 911 Targa. It’s not often that these limited-edition models pass through the press before disappearing into private collections, so the chance to see up close how Porsche, and specifically its Exclusive Manufaktur boutique design department, are celebrating former glories was not one to pass up.
The first of four such Heritage models, the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition, to give it its full title, is a short run of cars being whisked off the factory line in Zuffenhausen for completion by Porsche’s bespoke finishing service. The global allocation is just 992 cars, meaning each is assured a scarcity value at the very least, but it is the unique design details that may well turn these modern curios into instant classics.

What Porsche has done is dip into its past in subtle but seemingly very effective ways, taking design cues from the ’50s and ’60s and applying them sparingly over the car. Some, granted, are a little more obvious, but others even the trained eye could miss. Which arguably makes the whole experience all the more satisfying.
The first thing anyone is going to comment on is the decals, inspired by the motorsport liveries of the 356 and 550 Spyder. Complete with racing roundel and large Porsche script along the flanks, these are the elements you can’t miss even if you’d prefer to. They are certainly striking, perhaps too much so for some, but you could always spend a Sunday morning lifting them off with a hair drier.
Underneath the sticker sets, Heritage Targas are finished in a choice of five colours, of which this retro-inspired Cherry Metallic is the stand out. It’s not the sort of colour a lot of people would naturally gravitate towards these days, so all the better to have it foisted upon us here in order to see just how well it works in different lights.

Further external enhancements on the UK’s first test car include a Porsche Heritage engine badge, inspired by the ones given out to 356 customers whose cars passed the 100,000km mark. Harder to spot is the original Porsche crest, exactly as it would have appeared on the 911 in 1963, which graces bonnet, steering wheel and centre caps. It’s also embossed into the headrests and key fob pouch for almost imperceptible good measure. In another nod to early 911s, the Targa 4S lettering on the rear is finished in gold, which looks superb against the dark red. A little thing, but a lovely one.

The wheels are another eye-catching retrospective design addition. Fitted as standard, the Carrera Exclusive Design 20- and 21-inch alloys have a distinctly Fuchs-like flavour, enhanced by inconspicuous black-painted callipers. Whether they would work elsewhere is debatable, but here they seem to hit the mark.
The two-tone interior is more of a Marmite phenomenon. It comes in either Bordeaux Red or Black, contrasted with Atacama Beige. This last is repeated in the corduroy that makes up the seat inserts, rear seats and door cards. The fabric has a distinctly retro look and feel that is intended to reference the upholstery of the 356, but where Porsche’s houndstooth check is instantly reminiscent of mid-Sixties 911s, a big dose of beige corduroy could just as easily make you think of British Leyland in the 1970s.
Nevertheless, there are some fantastic details in the Targa’s cabin, particularly the central rev counter and stopwatch, whose numerals are finished in the green first seen on the 356, a lovely touch that you never tire of.

Based as it is on the 992, this Targa 4S is replete with all current chassis and drivetrain technology. Its 443bhp twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat six and all-wheel drive offer more than enough straight-line speed and acceleration, in gear or off the line, while the standard eight-speed PDK transmission makes accessing it all utterly effortless. The headline figures are a 189mph top speed and (with Launch Control) a 0 to 62mph time of under 3.6 seconds. There’s nothing old school about those numbers.

On the road, the Targa is an exemplary all-rounder still, offering what might very well be the perfect combination of aural and visual drama, alongside performance that is always at the upper end of what is realistically useable. And all this in a package that can just as easily be dialled down for more gentle touring or daily driving duties, an excess of tyre noise notwithstanding. Perhaps the obvious conflict for this particular car is the motorsport decals in a car more easily aligned with sunny road trips or glamorous Rivieras, but as a platform for Exclusive’s Heritage wares, it must cover all the bases and does so with aplomb.
Porsche does intend to make ‘selected interior elements’ available too. As part of a new Heritage Design range, customers can specify certain retro details for any future 911, offering a very tempting way to discreetly personalise your own car. And it might also be a markedly cheaper route.

The remaining official Heritage Design Edition models retail at a hefty £136,643, nearly £27,000 more than a standard Targa 4S. It’s an expensive showcase for what the Exclusive team can do, but judging by how sought after Porsche’s limited editions become, it’s hard to imagine they won’t all find homes.

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