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Auto blogTue, 14 Jan 2014 19:58:00 EST
Despite Porsche having claimed the name, targa tops are nothing new. In addition to the semi-roofless version of the 911, plenty of cars in the past have used removable roof panels - the new Corvette Stingray has one (as have prior generations), and this type of open-air experience has been available on past vehicles like the Pontiac Solstice Coupe and Honda Civic del Sol.
But when Porsche took the top off its brand new 911 Targa here at the Detroit Auto Show, it was indeed cause for pause. Simply put, this is one of the most complicated and intricate electronic roof panel removal techniques we've ever seen, save perhaps, for the setup found on the Japanese-market Civic del Sol from the 1990s.
We won't spoil the video for you, but basically, rather than just the roof panel coming off, the entire rear glass area lifts away the body in order for the small section over the passenger compartment to slide back. This has to be incredibly expensive to repair once it inevitably breaks. And we highly doubt you'll be able to operate this mechanism at any speed.
If there's no rest for the wicked, there's surely even less rest for the wickedly fast. And make no mistake about it, Mark Webber is wickedly fast. He may not have proven able (or given the opportunity, depending on who you ask) to emerge from Sebastian Vettel's shadow after six seasons partnered with the multiple world champion at Red Bull Racing, but he's still won nine Formula One grands prix, to say nothing of the sports car races he won with Mercedes in the late 90s. But now he's leaving F1 to anchor Porsche's new LMP1 program, and according to the latest reports, he's departing Red Bull for Porsche sooner than expected.
Typically an F1 driver is obliged to stay with his team until the end of the calendar year - not just the end of the racing season - helping out with things like promotional events and fine-tuning next year's car. But news.com.au reports that Red Bull has given him early leave, so once the racing action in Brazil is done on Sunday, he's departing straight for Porsche's racing headquarters in Wiessach, Germany.
It won't be Webber's first visit to the facility, having already swung by to have his new seat fitted. But his early arrival will undoubtedly help him and Porsche get up and running ahead of schedule. The move may have been facilitated by a new sponsorship deal that could see Webber carry Red Bull with him to Le Mans, so don't be too surprised to see the energy drink company's logo on the side of the new Porsche once the new racing season gets under way next year, whether in concert with or instead of the anticipated revival of the Martini Racing livery.
Porsche will officially unveil the refreshed 2014 Panamera at the Shanghai Motor Show later this month, and there's a whole lot in store for the updated model, far beyond the minimal styling tweaks you see here. Sure, there's a new fascia with more prominent LED lighting (including full LED headlamps) and the rump has been tweaked ever so slightly, but the big news for 2014 concerns what's underneath that rakish skin.
First up, Porsche will now offer a Panamera S E-Hybrid model - a plug-in hybrid that builds on the technology first introduced in the Panamera S Hybrid that we tested in 2011. For this new application, a more powerful electric motor and higher-performance battery have been fitted (official specs have not been released just yet), and Porsche says the battery can be recharged in just two and a half hours when the car is plugged in to a 240-volt outlet, and the charging (as well as other vehicle data) can be monitored via a new Porsche Car Connect app available for Android and iOS devices.
The E-Hybrid will have an all-electric driving range of "greater than 20 miles" and will be able to travel at speeds up to 84 miles per hour solely on electric power.