PORSCHE 911’s TODAY go from GT2 RS race specials to Carreras. Many are apprehensive driving GT’s regularly tarnishing their collectability; even if able to attain one in the first place. Therein lies beauty in 911’s latest variant: Carrera T.
Not some limited-run collector special for bubble-wrap incubation, we have a base 911 similar to GT, slightly lighter, semi-stripped, enthusiast focused, without waitlists or collector car pretense for all to enjoy.
In reality, Carrera T (T for Touring) is a newly named strategically optioned weight-saving Carrera 2. Same twin-turbo 3.0L flat-six producing 370 horsepower, 331 lb-ft of torque, matched to a 7-speed manual gearbox and shorter final drive ratio (3.59: 1 versus 3.44:1) with a limited-slip differential. PASM sport suspension, dynamic engine mounts, sport exhaust, steering wheel-mounted drive mode selector, are all standard. Options, unavailable on base Carreras, include rear-wheel steering and carbon-fiber full-bucket seats which delete rear seats. Combined with thinner glass, reduced sound-deadening, door-release straps, it saves 20kg.
Carrera T may appear a cut-priced parts-bin special, but overall philosophy is really similar to fifty years earlier 911T models. Conceived as a de-contented, entry-level 911, the T was lower-priced, opening doors to Porsche ownership for enthusiasts. How do 2018 models stack up? We compared a well-kept 1969 example of a club member.
Visually, both share a basic silhouette/design, round to now semi-ellipsoidal headlights and muscular rear haunches that have been 911 trademarks since the dawn of time, but that’s about where the similarities end. Next to modern touches such as large 20 inch wheels, retractable rear wing, and aggressive front and rear facias, the most obvious difference between both is size. The classic car looks absolutely tiny next to its modern sibling, a trait also obvious within the cabin.
Even when pressed hard beyond what most would deem reasonable, the Carrera T remains incredibly planted with endless grip granted by its ultra-wide 305-rear and 245-front Pirelli P Zero tires.
Compared to a frill-free, intimate interior of the 911T, the Carrera T’s cabin is rather sophisticated and spacious. Its smooth-operating infotainment system is both visually pleasing and responsive. The comfortable and supportive sport seats come wrapped in an attractive and somewhat retro-looking Sport-Tex material inserts, with leather bolsters. A stubby gear-shifter and analog instrument gauges too are a nice nod to the past. Most interior surfaces and controls are well-conceived with excellent fit, finish and attention to detail.
With a curb weight of 1438 kg, same as a base Carrera with half a tank of gas, it is no surprise the Carrera T feels very much like its showroom mate from behind the wheel. Steering is incredibly precise, well-weighted, perfect for linking corner after corner. A firmer damper setting is available, but I found it best to just leave the suspension in its more comfortable setting where body control and chassis rigidity remain impressively high. Even when pressed hard beyond what most would deem reasonable, the Carrera T remains incredibly planted with endless grip granted by its ultra-wide 305-rear and 245-front Pirelli P Zero tires. More remarkable though is just how engaging and connected it feels. All inputs, from steering to brakes, have an immediacy and sensory feedback that’s comparatively numb in most competing performance cars.
Its modest engine isn’t going to set any dragstrip records, but that would be missing point. 370 horsepower and a 0-100km/h time in 4.5 seconds (4.2 with PDK) is more than sufficient for a regular-use 911, and every bit of it is fully exploitable on the road. A pair of turbos deliver instant torque with smooth linear power delivery all the way to redline at 7400 rpm. The flat-six howl as it reaches its cut-off is intoxicating, although I would prefer a little less burbling on the overrun from the sport exhaust when Sport mode is engaged. I appreciate the attempt at theatrics, but it just sounds synthesized and serves as a reminder of the purity that’s been lost in the move to forced induction. Porsche may realize this as well, which could explain why the burbling appears in Sport mode, but oddly disappears in Sport+ mode.
The flat-six howl as it reaches its cut-off is intoxicating, although I would prefer a little less burbling on the overrun from the sport exhaust when Sport mode is engaged.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of purity to be had from the smooth-shifting 7-speed manual gearbox that comes as standard equipment. A strong case can be made for its optional lightning-quick PDK gearbox, but for some, not even blazingly-fast gear-changes are convincing enough to forgo the involvement of a good-old three-pedal arrangement. A perfectly weighted and well-match clutch pedal adds to the light notchy feel of the short-throw shifter. Turning the dial into Sport or Sport+ mode activates an auto rev-match feature that automatically blips the throttle for smoother downshifts. It’s a deeply satisfying setup that’s perfectly suited to the back-to basics approach of the Carrera T.
At $116,500 to start, the Carrera T represents a $12,500 premium over a base Carrera model, which is pretty reasonable given the amount of added features and extra performance equipment. There’s nothing radical or ground-breaking about the Carrera T’s formula, and yet, its semi-stripped-down purity is enough to make it one of the most appealing variants in today’s 911 range. It’s as simple and driver-focused as a 911 can be without moving into GT3 territory. And without the cloud of rarity and collectability constantly lurking overhead, it may actually be the more enjoyable one to operate on a regular basis. For the enthusiast wanting a 911 to truly drive as it is meant to be driven, the Carrera T is about as good as it gets. </>
Story & Photos by Shari Prymak, Auto Journalist & Photographer