Should you be in any doubt about the eye-catching appeal of Porsche’s powerful new Targa 4S, how about this.
With the electrically-operated Targa roof open in the glorious sunshine, I was sitting quietly at the wheel of the £130,000 sports car in front of the German firm’s UK headquarters on the outskirts of Reading, adjusting the seat and driving settings, before heading off for a first fun-filled test-drive on UK roads.
Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a sporty estate car whizz past in the distance before pulling up sharply. The vaguely familiar, casually-dressed driver looked over, waved, got out, and trotted across the tarmac to where I was parked up.
Was it a car photographer I’d worked with?
As he drew closer in his blue t-shirt and jeans the penny finally dropped: it was singer-songwriter and car aficionado Jay Kay from Jamiroquai who’d spotted the new Porsche – on German plates and ahead of first UK deliveries this August – and admitted he just couldn’t resist coming over for a closer look.
Open-top review: Ray Massey has been testing the all-new Porsche 911 Targa 4S before it hits UK show rooms in the coming weeks
In another era, before the coronavirus pandemic, I’d have invited him in for a drive.
With his vast experience of performance cars, I might even have got him to write this review for me.
Sadly, with strict social distancing measures in place and the fact that Porsche had gone to great lengths to ‘sanitise’ my car down to its switches and sealed plipper key, it wasn’t to be.
But we had a good – two-meter socially distanced – chat.
He’d been dropping off one of his own cars for a service and, even though he admitted he was slimming down his own vast car collection to remove some of the ‘shrapnel’, he was so taken with the Targa he took a few pictures on his phone, with me behind the wheel. Talk about role reversal.
The sight of a new 911 Targa caught the eye of singer and life-long petrol-head, Jay Kay
Jay Kay, who has owned a number of Porsches, was quick to spot the latest generation of the open-top 911
The man at the wheel of the 911 Targa 4S was our own Ray Massey, who has been testing the car before it arrives in right-hand-drive form later this year
So what a fantastic scene-setter for my own test drive around the highways and byways of Berkshire including skirting the beautiful Ridgeway and its tremendous views.
Porsche’s long-term attitude with the 911 is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t’ fix it’ – just keep refining it to within an inch or centimetre of its life.
And this is this case with the new 911 Targa 4s, the eighth generation of the Targa niche since its inception 1965. It joins its 911 Coupé and Cabriolet siblings to form a tantalising Porsche trio.
Immediate impression for a first drive on Britain’s potholed roads is that the suspension felt quite hard at low speed but that’s easily tweaked by adjusting the damper settings to suit – or simply putting your foot down a bit. Sorted. It springs into life.
Starting price for the 911 Targa 4S is £109,725, but Ray’s was packed with nearly £20,000 of ‘extras’ which bumped the final price up by the cost of a decent new family hatchback to £129,172
This is the eighth generation of the Targa niche, which has been available since its inception 1965
With the Targa top open it’s great to get the delightful wind-in the hair sensation
Once in the swing, around the twisting county lanes of Berkshire it proved a delight, gripping the road like a limpet and proving exceptionally engaging.
With the Targa top open it’s great to get the delightful wind-in the hair sensation.
True, it’s a half-way house between a full-metal coupe and a fully top-down cabriolet. But you get the best – not the worst – of both worlds.
In the glorious sunshine I drove mainly top-down, though with the top up it is wonderfully cocooning with a surprising amount of headroom.
Playing around with the settings, I toggled between normal, ‘Sport’ and, when feeling particularly adventurous, ‘Sport-plus’ and felt the sinews tighten considerably.
In the latter two modes the exhaust sound increase to a throaty rumble, and the blips and blisters when gears drop down are deeply satisfying.
It burbled quietly through small villages and towns, but was let off the leash on long-legged country roads with beautiful vistas. On a long straight stretch the acceleration is exhilarating – until you just run out of road.
The Targa is a half-way house between a full-metal coupe and a fully top-down cabriolet. But you get the best – not the worst – of both worlds
In the glorious sunshine I drove mainly top-down, though with the top up it is wonderfully cocooning with a surprising amount of headroom
In ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’ modes, the exhaust sound increase to a throaty rumble, and the blips and blisters when gears drop down are deeply satisfying.
All that oomph from the Targa 4S comes courtesy of a powerfully lean rear-mounted 3.0-litre flat-six engine uprated to 450 horsepower – an increase of 30PS on its predecessor.
That allows the car to accelerate from rest to 62mph in just 3.6 seconds with the Sport Chrono package (as fitted to my car) or in 3.8 seconds without.
Will it fit in my garage? Porsche 911 Targa 4S
On sale: now
First deliveries: from this month, August 2020
Price: from £109,725
Price of my car as driven: £129, 172(Targa range from £98,170)
Seats: 2 plus 2
Time to open/close Targa top: 19 seconds
Width (with mirrors): 2,024mm
Width (mirrors folded): 1,852mm
Max weight: 2,085kg
Engine: 3.0-litre flat-six
Power: 450 horsepower (PS) – up 30PS on predecessor
Gears: 8-speed dual clutch automatic with manual override
0-62mph (standard): 3.8 seconds
0-62mph (with Sport Chrono package): 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 189mph
Fuel economy: 26.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 245g/km
That’s our tenths faster than the car it replaces – up to a top speed of 189mph, which you’ll only get near – and keep your licence – on a test track or de-restricted German Autobahn.
The willing engine is linked to a slick eight-speed dual-clutch transmission- a ‘Doppelkupplung’ for those interested in the original German – which is very perceptive with its changes, though you can switch to paddles on the wheel for greater hands-on engagement.
An intelligent all-wheel drive traction management is standard and helps boost grip, and keep drivers out of trouble.
The 911 Targa 4S can also be ordered with the new seven-speed manual gearbox – with which the Sport Chrono package is combined – as a no-cost option.
All that hard driving is thirsty work – for the car – so the official average fuel economy 26.2mpg may not reflect more spirited driving styles. CO2 emissions are 245g/km. Both are based on the new ‘real world’ WLTP measure.
Styling-wise, it is evolutionary and certainly not revolutionary.
The nose features more pronounced front wheel arches with rounded LED headlights while the bonnet has a recess to evoke the design of the earliest 911 generations. Apart from the front and rear sections, the entire outer skin is aluminium.
But it’s a comfortably sporty and supportive cockpit in which to sit while munching up the miles.
The interior echoes the 911 Carrera models with a clear, straight-lined dashboard and recessed instruments, said by Porsche to be inspired by models from the 1970s.
Thankfully it was not inspired by other less successful design icons of that era – such as flared trousers, tank-tops, kipper-ties and wedge-heeled shoes.
In line with that evolutionary philosophy, the new 911 Targa borrows styling cues that hark back to the original 1965 Targa with its removable roof section above the front seats when it was billed as a ‘safety cabriolet’.
At its heart is the innovative roof system that helps combine a sleek coupe-like appearance and wraparound rear window with the delightful wind-in the hair indulgence of open-topped motoring.
It has a comfortably sporty and supportive cockpit in which to sit while munching up the miles
At its heart is the innovative roof system that helps combine a sleek coupe-like appearance and wraparound rear window with the delightful wind-in the hair indulgence of open-topped motoring
But whereas the original Targa top required some manual dexterity to remove and store the central roof section, the new car does it all automatically and electrically at the touch of a button and in just 19 seconds.
It’s a delight to watch the ballet-like choreography as the fully-automatic system stows the roof top behind the rear seats.
But you have to leave a bit of extra space behind the car to avoid dinging other vehicles, fences or walls in the process.
The thick protective Targa sides create a bit of a visual blind spot when looking out to the side at trick junctions, though the blind-spot warning does help compensate for that.
My 4S model was fitted as standard with 20-inch front wheels and 21-inch rears, while its 350mm brake discs had red-painted brake calipers (six pistons at the front and four at the rear). Ceramic brakes are an option.
It also came with a wide variety of electric stability controls with more acronym initials than you can wave a stick at –even when translated from the German to the English.
For the first time the new car is also fitted with Porsche ‘InnoDrive’ which includes adaptive cruise control
While it isn’t as light or as compact as the original, the latest 911 Targa will scythe through corners
As a trump card, Targa models are also equipped as standard with ‘Porsche Wet mode’ which because of the baking hot dry weather I had no chance to sample.
The car-maker explains: ‘Sensors fitted in the front wheel housings are capable of detecting water on the road surface and, if significant volumes of water are picked up, a signal in the cockpit provides a recommendation for the driver to manually switch to Wet mode.
‘The vehicle drive systems are then adapted to the conditions to guarantee maximum driving stability.’
For the first time the new car is also fitted with Porsche ‘InnoDrive’ which includes adaptive cruise control.
An enhanced Smartlift function enables ground clearance to be programmed so the front ride height can be raised.
In the UK Porsche is offering customers a chance to test their new car’s potential and develop their own driving skills around a track at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone. I should take it because there’s a limit to what you can do on the road – and keep your licence – in this car.
In line with that evolutionary philosophy, the new 911 Targa borrows styling cues that hark back to the original 1965 Targa with its removable roof section above the front seats when it was billed as a ‘safety cabriolet’
In the UK Porsche is offering customers a chance to test their new car’s potential and develop their own driving skills around a track at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone
Starting price for the car I drove is £109,725 but mine was packed with nearly £20,000 of ‘extras’ which bumped the final price up by the cost of a decent new family hatchback to £129,172.
These additional add-ons included the Sport Chrono Package (£1,683), rear-axle steering (£1,592), adaptive sports-seats plus with 18-way memory (£2,315), carbon matt interior (£1,263), tinted lED main headlights with matric (£2,487), a sports exhaust system with black tail-pipes (£1,844), a heated leather GT sports steering wheel (£383) black high-gloss wheels (£842) and Carrera White Metallic paint (£876).
A drop in the ocean for super-rich cool-cats like Jay Kay, but certainly not Virtual Insanity. Take one for a spin and let me know what you think. I’ve already primed Porsche.
A brief history lesson on Porsche’s open-top 911
The original 911 Targa 2.0 which was unveiled in 1965 at the Frankfurt Motor Show and put into full production the following year, became ‘a trailblazer for a whole new type of car’.
It was originally marketed as a ‘safety cabriolet with anti-roll bar’ in response to increased safety legislation in America.
But the Targa with its detachable roof soon established itself in its own right.
The name ‘Targa’ comes from the Targa Florio race. Since the mid-sixties has been synonymous with Porsche’s concept of open driving.
In 1996 model the Targa’s entire roof was made of glass with an electric sliding glass cover above the driver and front seat passenger that could be lowered and retracted beneath the hinged rear glass window.
In 2014 Porsche introduced an integrated folding powered roof mechanism which the new eight generation Targa has refined.
*The road test was carried out in compliance with corona-virus safety and self-distancing measures instituted by Porsche GB
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Fund tech revolution, Bank chief tells Chancellor
Britain’s top economist has called on the Government to spearhead a tech revolution for millions of firms, creating a ‘faster and smarter’ economy as the country fights its way back from the Covid-19 crisis.
Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane – writing in his capacity as chairman of the Industrial Strategy Council – said a new blueprint must be drawn up with a raft of measures, including tax incentives and access to finance to feed an ‘appetite’ among firms to adopt new technology.
The surprise intervention – in a joint document prepared for The Mail on Sunday by Haldane and former John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield – comes just weeks ahead of an expected Spending Review by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Plea: Andy Haldane is calling on Rishi Sunak to draft a new blueprint for the economy
It is unusual for a senior official who also holds a high-ranking position at the Bank of England to make such broad-reaching policy recommendations.
Haldane, who sits on the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, and Mayfield want small and medium-sized companies to urgently adopt or update software across key areas such as accounting, HR, customer relationship management and marketing.
The paper says the economic recovery in July was ‘further and faster than anyone expected’ after the collapse in the second quarter.
But the writers say it is vital to seize ‘the opportunities, as well as the obvious challenges, of Covid’ and ‘technologically upgrade our businesses and our economy’.
UK business has been a ‘laggard’ in adopting new technology despite playing ‘a leading role’ in developing it, the paper says. ‘That is particularly true among the smaller and mid-sized businesses which employ nearly two thirds of people working in the UK. This explains why, despite rapid innovation, aggregate productivity among UK companies has flat lined for more than a decade.’ Haldane and Mayfield add: ‘Technology adoption needs to be at the heart of industrial policy. Levelling up the UK’s companies, through improved tech adoption, is an essential element of levelling up our regions.’
The paper – which the MoS has made available in full at thisismoney.co.uk – calls for ‘incentives for companies to make the right investment choices’ and to make it easier for them ‘to access finance to fund this investment’.
It also calls for support through advice shared by large corporations with smaller firms, through local ‘tech hubs’ and online. A survey of 500 small and medium firms released alongside the paper reveals one in eight are using systems more than a decade old and another third using systems six to ten years old. A third said they have acquired technology that has barely been used.
But the paper says the Covid crisis has presented a major opportunity because ‘rapid and radical technological adoption has been essential to the survival of many firms’.
Mayfield chairs Be The Business, a Government-backed organisation set up to solve Britain’s sluggish productivity largely by encouraging wider use of technology.
Its research has revealed adoption of new technology among businesses rose four times faster during the crisis than it did for the entirety of 2019. In many cases, firms were forced to act as they switched to working from home. Mayfield said last night: ‘Business technology has not kept pace with consumer technology. It’s not just about Zoom and it’s not about AI and advanced technology.
‘It’s about wider adoption of pretty well-established tools that have been proven to improve growth of businesses that use them – accounting and HR software, CRM [customer relationship management] systems, online trading, export tools and really getting to grips with social media and marketing.’
But there had been resistance in the past from firms fearful of the disruption that implementing new technology can cause. ‘It’s hard work and it’s difficult,’ he said.
Referring to John Lewis’s experiences implementing new IT systems since 2014, Mayfield said: ‘I have the scars on my back from a well-resourced business that has found tech adoption difficult. It costs a lot, took longer than planned and at the end of it all the benefits weren’t quite as clear as they were at the beginning.’
‘But I’ve no doubt we did the right thing. If we hadn’t, the business would be in a far worse position than if it hadn’t,’ added Mayfield, who left John Lewis earlier this year.
He said Be The Business was piloting ‘tech adoption labs’ across the country and large companies had offered ‘chief technology officers on demand’ to help firms cope.
‘We’ve got the template, we’ve got the playbook, we’ve got Britain’s best businesses and access to expertise – Cisco, Openreach, Amazon, Google. We are asking the Government to make this a priority for rebuilding the UK.’
He added: ‘Eat Out to Help Out has had a pretty dramatic impact on restaurants. What we need is a similar message for business leaders, something along the lines of ‘Tech Up to Grow Out’. It should become a fundamental part of the recovery.’
HOW DO GOVERNMENTS AND BUSINESSES ENSURE BOUNCE-BACK CONTINUES?
By Andy Haldane, chair of the Industrial Strategy Council, and Sir Charlie Mayfield, chair of Be The Business
UK GDP had, by July, recovered around half of its Covid-related losses, rebounding further and faster than anyone expected. That’s the good news. The bad is that the economy remains 12 per cent smaller than at the start of the year. So how do Governments and businesses ensure this bounce-back continues and that the opportunities, as well as the obvious challenges, of Covid are seized?
A large part of the answer lies in improving levels of technology adoption among businesses. While the UK plays a leading role in developing new technology and innovation, it is a laggard when it comes to its wider adoption across companies. That is particularly true among the smaller and mid-sized businesses which employ nearly two thirds of people working in the UK. This explains why, despite rapid innovation, aggregate productivity among UK companies has flat-lined for more than a decade.
Yet, for all its challenges, Covid has shown what is possible on this front. With their normal business models disrupted so significantly, rapid and radical technological adoption has been essential to the survival of many firms. Even among the more mature aspects of technology, such as e-commerce, the pace of adoption has been rapid. Data from Be the Business shows tech adoption was four times faster during the crisis than the whole of 2019.
It is good news that many more businesses now have the appetite and experience to upgrade their technologies. The less good news is that many of the barriers to that wider adoption are long-standing and remain deep-seated. Understanding those barriers, and removing them, is crucial if the benefits of technology – for productivity, skills and jobs across every region – are to be unleashed.
Be the Business, with support from McKinsey, has just completed the largest-ever study of these barriers and opportunities to widespread adoption of technologies. Some of these blockages sit in firms themselves, through a lack of information or appetite for change. Others exist among the suppliers of technology, in particular to smaller companies. Both the demand and supply sides need fixing, at source and at speed, if the opportunity is to be seized.
To do so, we believe three things are essential.
First, businesses need access to independent advice and resources to guide them towards the right technology choices. At present, in particular for smaller companies, this is daunting. There are mountains of information and training available on how to use specific software and tools. But there is no one-stop-shop for this information and no clear guidance to help businesses understand what kit would best meet their needs – until now.
On the new website, Be the Business Digital, businesses have all the answers they need. It is full of real world experience of business leaders who have learnt the hard way about tech adoption – where they went wrong, why they persevered, and what it did for their businesses. It’s constantly being updated and developed, providing a guide to the many business leaders up and down the country who know they need more tech but aren’t sure where to start.
Second, business leaders themselves need access to expertise and training. Only big firms have Chief Technology Officers. Most businesses can’t afford them and nor can they afford the fees of professional service firms who might fill the gap. We need, in every region and major town or city, a place where businesses can come for help when they need it – local hubs for business support. This should not just be government provided support. The private sector must play a role here. More than 100 of the UK’s best firms, including our best tech companies, have already committed to supporting Be the Business’ efforts.
Finally, there is the role of policy. Technology adoption needs to be at the heart of industrial policy. Levelling-up the UK’s companies, through improved tech adoption, is an essential element of levelling-up our regions. That means creating incentives for companies to make the right investment choices – for example, with a level playing field between investing in machinery versus software.
It also means making it easier for businesses to access finance to fund this investment. The UK has led the world with its Open Banking initiative to make personal bank account data portable, enabling people to switch their accounts cheaply and easily to improve innovation and competition. There is a strong case for doing the same with business data, making this fully portable and thereby enabling companies to switch vendors easily and cheaply to unleash finance and innovation.
The Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Solow famously asked: if technology is so ubiquitous, why doesn’t it show up in productivity statistics? We now know why: much of that technology simply isn’t found in many British businesses. Now is the time to technologically upgrade our businesses and our economy, building back not just better, but faster and smarter.
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Rolls-Royce set to tap investors for £2.5bn cash boost
Rolls-Royce is on the cusp of launching an emergency fundraising to tap shareholders for between £2billion and £2.5billion.
City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors, possibly through a rights issue and placing.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are believed to be among the investment banks working on the fundraising deal for Rolls-Royce.
Emergency: City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors
It had been thought Rolls-Royce may look to raise £1.5billion from investors. But sources claimed the blue chip firm is now seeking an extra £500million to £1billion, possibly from sovereign wealth funds.
The move to launch such a large rescue fundraising comes as Rolls-Royce shares – which closed last week at £1.80 – flirt with a 16-year low amid concerns about the company’s financial position.
Investment bankers last month told The Mail on Sunday that they had heard rumours the Government was ‘starting to get worried’, raising the possibility of state intervention.
Rolls-Royce – in which the Government has a ‘golden share’ that gives it the right to block a takeover – has been hit hard by the pandemic. In part that has been because the company operates a power-by-the hour model, where it sells engines at a loss and later receives payments according to how much they fly. This arrangement has left the company bleeding cash.
The firm is also particularly exposed to the collapse in long-haul travel because it makes engines for bigger planes such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and Airbus’s A350.
Rolls-Royce’s debt has been downgraded to junk status and major long-term shareholders, such as American activist ValueAct Capital, have been selling out of the company.
In a note to clients several weeks ago, David Perry, an analyst at JP Morgan, said: ‘An £8billion hole will need much more than a £1.5billion rights issue. We believe RollsRoyce needs to raise at least £6billion [through equity raise sales and disposals] to put itself on a sound financial footing.’
Perry added that the company’s debt pile will be almost £19billion by the end of the year. He believes that £1.5billion may not be enough to save the firm.
The analyst suggested that Rolls-Royce needs to issue £6billion of equity and this might not be possible by just relying on institutional investors. ‘We think there is a high chance of Government intervention,’ he added.
Aside from tapping stock market investors for fresh cash, Rolls-Royce is also seeking to generate about £2billion from selling divisions – including ITP Aero – over the next 18 months.
ITP Aero is Rolls-Royce’s Spanish engineering division that makes turbine blades for engines.
A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: ‘We continue to review a range of funding options to further strengthen our balance sheet.
‘These could include debt and equity, but no final decisions have been taken. We have already taken swift action to strengthen our liquidity with £6.1billion at the end of the first half of the year and a further £2billion term loan agreed in the second half.
‘We have also announced £1billion of cost mitigation activity in 2020 and launched a re-organisation of our Civil Aerospace business to save £1.3billion annually.’
Last month, the firm’s woes were compounded by the announcement that finance chief Stephen Daintith was leaving the business for online delivery firm Ocado.
Daintith has said he will stay for a transition period.
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Casino boss: 10pm curfew will hit night-time industries
The boss of Britain’s biggest casino complex has warned that a 10pm curfew would be ‘disastrous’ for night-time industries.
Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome in London’s West End, said casinos make half their revenue after 10pm, and a national curfew would force him to make ‘substantial redundancies’ among his 700 staff.
He already expects to make a ‘significant loss’ this year, after losing £1million a month during the five months the business was closed, and said the situation remains ‘fragile’.
Losing streak: Visitor numbers are down 80 per cent at the Hippodrome
Visitor numbers are down by about 80 per cent since the Hippodrome reopened last month.
‘The curfew poses an existential threat to theatres, hotels, bars and clubs,’ said Thomas.
‘It is an unnecessary over-reaction to Covid and it would be a disaster for London.’
Thomas owns about half of the Hippodrome, which has casinos, restaurants and bars on six floors of a 19th Century former music hall and circus. His 86-year-old father Jimmy owns 20 per cent.
He said he had worked hard to make the casinos safe, with gaming positions separated by flexi-glass walls, and the 80,000 sq ft premises prepared to receive just 400 people, down from 1,600.
He has raised £10million of Government loans and bank debt. A consultation on redundancies has started, but the number of job cuts has not been confirmed while 300 staff remain on furlough.
Thomas said: ‘It’s frustrating as the core business is excellent – the building is beautiful and a huge asset to London. We are very happy to pay tax, to provide jobs and entertain people – but we have to be allowed to do it.’
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