With a little less weight and an enthusiast’s spec sheet, Porsche’s 911 Carrera T offers a hint of the GT magic for less.
Porsche is aiming to put the sparkle back into its regular 911 range with this: the Carrera T. It’s a model that offers no more power than standard, but instead achieves greater performance through weight reduction and an enhanced specification. That’s a classic recipe that Porsche has used many times over the years, so expectations are naturally high.
Based on the standard Carrera, rather than the more powerful Carrera S, the T features the same 365bhp, 3.0-litre flat-six engine, and is available with either a seven-speed manual or seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox.
Unsurprisingly, the automatic is quicker over the 0-62mph sprint, recording a 4.2-second time against the manual car’s 4.5 seconds. However, the ethos and lower weight of the manual option seems more in line with the T’s brief, and it also gets the traction enhancing limited-slip differential that isn’t available for PDK-equipped cars.
Porsche is a little coy about the exact weight saving on the T model, simply saying that compared to a Carrera “of similar specification” it is 20kg lighter – although the actual quoted figures are just five kilos apart. That doesn’t sound like a great deal, and removed from a car that weighs close to 1,500kg, it isn’t.
The reduction is due to lighter glass for the rear window and rear side glass, the removal of the rear seats (although you can put them back at no extra cost) and the absence of some of the sound-proofing material. You can also choose to have no radio or infotainment at all, if listening to the engine is your music of choice.
The other element of the T’s appeal is how Porsche has manipulated the specification sheet. The Carrera T has the aforementioned differential and the 20mm lower variable suspension setup (PASM Sport), neither of which can be specced on a Carrera – only the pricier Carrera S.
It also has the option of active rear-wheel steering, which is usually only available as an option on the S, while the otherwise optional sports exhaust is standard on the T. It’s all a bit confusing, but the result is loosely how a driving enthusiast might spec a Carrera if given free rein with the options list.
The Carrera T certainly looks the part, with a subtly more aggressive front bumper, the 20-inch wheels from the Carrera S in grey and wing mirrors to match. You’ll also find Carrera T script on the doors and the engine cover, too. Inside there are unique fabric inserts for the seats, a shorter gear lever with red shift diagram and various other Carrera T-specific detailing.
The T is slightly noisier in the cabin the standard car, particularly with the exhaust in its louder setting, but the differences aren’t that great. Neither, in all honesty, is that weight reduction particularly noticeable.
And while Porsche has shortened the gearing slightly, it’s not drastically different in reality. What you’re left with, then, is a 911 Carrera sharpened to a finer point via the options list – meaning it’s a very enjoyable car to drive indeed.
The turbo engine has more than enough performance for the road, and the 911 still feels just about small enough that it can be classed a sports car, not a GT. This natural weildiness is complimented by a chassis that’s unflappable, whatever the road surface or corner in your path, with precise steering and very strong cornering grip. The T is set-up to look after you, and with the benefit of the electronic stability systems it’s possible to take real liberties with it and not fear any loss of control.
While the seven-speed manual may not be one of Porsche’s finest, it still has a reasonably direct shift mechanism, and such is the engine’s character that it can be run to its redline despite being turbocharged. It’s useable, practical (for two), and even comfortable on a long journey. But there’s just something missing to turn a good car into a truly great one.
At £85,576 the T is considerably more money than a basic Carrera (£77,891), and only a little way short of the more powerful, 414bhp, £87,335 Carrera S. The latter would require a little more spent on it to bring its chassis into line with the focus of the T, but it’s an appealing alternative.
The Carrera T certainly has a unique look to it, but it’s worth noting it’s a regular production model – and not one built in limited numbers.
Model: Porsche 911 Carrera T manual
Engine: 2,981cc, 6cyl, turbocharged
0-62mph/. Top speed: 4.5s/182mph
On sale: Now