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Driven: Porsche 911 Carrera T. Image by Porsche.

Driven: Porsche 911 Carrera T
An old badge for a new 911 - how does the driver-focused Carrera T fare?

 



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Porsche 911 Carrera T

5 5 5 5 5

While any Porsche 911 is a comprehensively talented sports car, some are more talented than others - such as the GTS or the GT3 RS. However, Porsche wants you to give a little more love to the (for want of a much better word) regular Carrera model, so it has devised a driver-focused, partially stripped-out model called the Carrera T. There's a premium for all this, of course, so is the Carrera T a mesmerising new edition to the vast 911 canon, or a missed opportunity that's been too strictly controlled by marketing people, rather than engineers?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche 911 Carrera T manual
Pricing: 911 Carrera from 77,891; Carrera T manual 85,576 OTR as tested
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, seven-speed manual
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 215g/km (VED 1,200 first 12 months, then 450 per annum next five years, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 29.7mpg
Top speed: 182mph
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
Power: 370hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 450Nm at 1,700- to 5,000rpm

What's this?

The Porsche 911 Carrera T. Yup, we've got another letter in the mix - with the Carrera S and 911 R already accounted for, it seems that 'T' was the logical way for Stuttgart to go. Actually, it's not just sequential alphabetical order Porsche is adhering to here, but rather history. Those with long memories might recall that there was a 911T launched back in 1967, featuring a less powerful 110hp Type 901/03 2.0-litre engine compared to the regular 130hp 911 (which was subsequently rebadged as the 911L to differentiate the two). The T stood for Touring and a competition version of the 911T managed to win the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally in the hands of Vic Elford.

A brief history lesson, then, but what does it mean for the modern Carrera T? Well, Touring might be stretching it. 'Trimmer' might bea better word for this Carrera, because it has been stripped of a few items to save up to 20kg of weight, spec-for-spec. On paper, it looks like there's only five kilos between a T at 1,425kg and a standard Carrera at 1,430kg, but Porsche UK assures us that a Carrera with bigger wheels and comparable items fitted would be 20kg bulkier. Some of the items added, or removed, to create the T are not even available as options on the Carrera, so that makes it all the more baffling when Porsche says the 85,576 required for a T is less than it would cost to spec a Carrera up to the same level...

However. This is what you get for your 7,685 premium on top of a basic Carrera's 77,891 ticket: a set of 20-inch Carrera S alloys finished in grey; door mirror caps in the same hue; a revised front bumper and splitter arrangement; the sports exhaust fitment; a Sport Chrono package; the 20mm-lower Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) sports chassis; a mechanical limited-slip diff (LSD); the lower final drive from a Carrera S, with a shorter, red-numbered shift lever in the cabin; plenty of 'Carrera T' badging inside and out; Sport-Tex four-way-adjustable electric seats; red stitching; a GT sports steering wheel; red fabric loops for door handles; no rear seats; thinner glass from a GT2 in the three rear-most windows; a 'minimal' amount of sound-deadening; and no Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment.

There are options: you can have the rear seats, thicker rear glass and the PCM all put back in for no extra cost (but that rather defeats the purpose of the T); rear-wheel steering is offered for a fee, which it is not possible to fit on the regular Carrera; and there's a variety of nine different paint finishes, including some bright colours like Guards Red, Lava Orange or Racing Yellow. There's also the possibility to fit a PDK automated transmission, which reduces the T's 0-62mph time from 4.5- to 4.2 seconds (with Sport Chrono's launch control) at the expense of top speed (180mph PDK, 182mph manual) - but, if you opt for PDK, you don't get the Carrera S final drive and you also have to make do without the LSD. Or the natty little seven-speed gearlever in the cabin, obviously.

Porsche says that, if you could fit some of the items from the T that aren't available as options on the Carrera, then each part added to the T would tot up to more than that 7,685 inflation of the windscreen sticker. Furthermore, like a GTS is a Carrera S with the best bits already fitted for you courtesy of the factory, the T is supposed to be a more driver-focused, enthralling proposition than a Carrera. It's a model that's here to stay, too, as there's going to be no limit on its production numbers. As the entry point to the more focused lineage of 911 - which currently runs GTS, GT3 Touring, GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 RS - it makes a lot of sense; when you realise this 370hp/450Nm T (the 3.0-litre twin-turbo engine is unchanged from the Carrera) is just 1,800 shy of a 420hp/500Nm Carrera S, things no longer appear cut and dried. Time to get driving, to see if the Carrera T can answer some big questions...

How does it drive?

Let's start with the bare truth: if you've had the honour of driving a 991.2 turbocharged Carrera and you get a chance to have a whirl in the Carrera T, you will not immediately break down into floods of rapturous tears, proclaiming the new car to be some sort of messianic mini-GT3 that immediately renders a standard Carrera redundant. Indeed, those of you looking to stick the knife into the Carrera T will quickly point out that, in fact, it feels little different at all. Where, one might ask when pressed for an instant response, has my eight thousand pounds gone?

And that's certainly plausible, because if it has been a long time since you drove a Carrera, then you'll be hard-pressed to pick up on the subtle, nuanced differences of the T. However, you need to give it time. Let it talk to you, seduce you. Because if you do, then you'll soon realise that, as fast road cars go, the Carrera T is little short of perfection. And you'll also concede it does feel that bit sharper and more involving at all road speeds than the Carrera. Which is a pretty damned fine sports car as it is anyway.

The T is a prime exponent of the tenet 'you only need about 350-400hp for a road car, if it is properly applied'. It's easy to become inured to raw speed when you're regularly driving 500, 600, maybe 700hp cars, but it's an extremely privileged position to be in to access such power - what needs to be borne in mind is that, were you to put any person from the vast majority of the motoring public in the second seat of the 911 Carrera T and then fully light up its 3.0-litre boxer motor, the ensuing noise and savage acceleration would elicit all manner of expletives from said passenger.

This thing goes at it bloody hard from anywhere on the rev counter, the enhanced muscle of the turbocharged mill making for an entirely different driving experience from the old normally aspirated 911 Carreras. In T specification, the empty, largely uninsulated cavern behind the front seats suddenly becomes an acoustic chamber for the rear-mounted engine and the terrific sports exhaust. That means this 911's barking soundtrack is harder-edged, more insistently in your ears from 2,000rpm all the way up to the redline.

Of course, you'll notice this tremendous noise because you've got no sound system to listen to. And you'll also notice that on rougher surfaces, the rumbling chatter of the tyres is prevalent behind your head. But other benefits come to the fore to negate any concerns you might have. There's absolutely no way anyone could hope to discern a mere 1.4 per cent weight reduction on a 1,445kg car, but it's clear any weight saving at all is only going to improve the 911's already-legendary dynamics.

And so it proves. With accurate, feel-rich steering, the sort of magnificent damping that shames the suspension of other performance car makers and a compact, lithe body, the 911 Carrera T has sublime handling. You can adjust its cornering line in a wide variety of ways, using the brakes, sharp throttle, effective diff and the Porsche's classic rear-engined balance to your heart's content, or you can simply revel in the traction afforded by the placement of the motor and keep everything tidy and clean, whereupon the Carrera T will zing from bend to bend in an astonishingly graceful display of poise and talent.

Yet this car wears a 'Carrera' badge and it wouldn't be acceptable if it didn't have everyday civility. Luckily, it does. In spades. OK, cabin noise is a little elevated compared to a plush standard Carrera, but the T is a long way from ear-splitting at motorway speeds and the revised final drive of the manual car means seventh is flexible and strong enough to haul you from about 45mph up to cruising velocity in very short order. And it returned 33mpg on a long motorway journey too, which is rather remarkable for a 182mph car.

Indeed, if we had any gripe with the Carrera T, it relates to that seven-speed 'box; when rushing, you can occasionally get lost in the gate and select fifth when you want third, or vice versa (don't worry, there's enough reach to the ratios to ensure you won't ping any valves through the head if you have an errant seventh-to-third shift; indeed in Sport mode it'll rev-match for you and make you sound like you meant to do it). But that's about all we can think of to complain about, it really is.

Verdict

To return to our original question at the top of the piece, we think the Carrera T is going to split opinion - and the people who will judge it most harshly are the people who have the most love and adulation invested in the 911 saga. Aficionados of this iconic model will say the T's programme of weight loss doesn't go far enough and when you're driving it, this Carrera T doesn't feel appreciably different to the regular car, despite costing nearly 8,000 more. There's also no doubting that there are - and have been - finer and/or faster iterations of 911 than this.

But we reckon it's next to impossible to find a better all-round road sports car than this, and by the standards of 911 prices it's one of the most accessible models of all. You don't need any more power, handling finesse or general capability than that possessed by the 911 Carrera T. If the argument goes that the simpler a 911, the better, then the manual T is about the simplest Porsche of the lot - both in its appearance and its proposition. Keep it as stripped out as its parent company intends with the manual gearbox and keep reminding yourself a GT3 would set you back at least 112,000 and not provide much more in the way of public highway. Then you'll conclude that it's a wholly welcome, brilliant and approachable addition to the Porsche family. Top marks, Weissach.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 17 Jan 2018









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2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T drive. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T drive. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T drive. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T drive. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T drive. Image by Porsche.

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T drive. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T drive. Image by Porsche.   







 

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