991 Carrera T: time for T

As William Blake once said, hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s been just over two years since we brought you our first drive of the 991 Carrera T, that being a continental drive from the mountains above Monaco to the bumpy B-roads of Britain (it’s in Issue 162, if you’d like to take a look). 

After our first drive with the Carrera T, we came away with mixed emotions. We loved the concept, Porsche bringing the ‘less is more’ axiom to its base 911 which, in fairness, has defined the genre of GT models further up the chain. 

We liked how engaging the T was to drive, that added focus supplied by a Sports chassis, revised final drive borrowed from the Carrera S, a stubbier, manual shifter, and thinner glass in the rear to let a bit more engine noise in. This was a T absolutely worth the eight grand premium over a base (and comparatively more diluted) Carrera.

However, our bursts of pleasure at the wheel were matched by pangs of disappointment thereafter, not for what the T was, but what it could have been. That seven-speed manual gearbox remained, long a point of contention for the 991 era in these pages, its throw imprecise, the shift a little too clunky through each gate. It was no different in the T. 

Several months later, head of the 911 production line, Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, confided that an early prototype version of the T was fitted with the GT3’s six-speed manual, but alas the production car came with the seven-speed instead. The revelation only added to our anguish; the six-speed would have been transformational. So near, yet so far. 

Then there’s mass: Porsche claimed this to be a lightweight of sorts at launch, shaving 20 kilograms in mass from the base Carrera for a 1,410kg kerb weight thanks to thinner glass and, mainly, the deletion of PCM and air conditioning. It was a moot point from the get-go: very nearly all T’s had the latter two specced back in, nullifying any weight advantage Porsche claimed the T ever had.

Journalists (us included) lamented the meek weight-saving exercise, particularly as it seemed that so much more could have been done. Maybe if the rhetoric from Germany had actually been ‘weighs the same as the Carrera, could be less if you take the PCM and air con out’, it might have gone down better than ‘lighter than a base Carrera… though you have to do without some basic comforts’.

The T was also open to the full rigour of options which in some areas only sought to blunt its potential: heavier, semi-automatic PDK transmission was available for it, as was a panoramic glass roof. Some examples, heaven forbid, were even specced with both! 

Transmission dramas and options dilemmas muddied the T’s copybook somewhat, which is why we have no problem believing dealers who have admitted to us that selling the car has consequently proved difficult. Its main problem is that customers don’t really understand the model. 

That’s clearly evident in the marketplace, where values of used Carrera Ts are down by quite a margin considering they’re only yet two years old, a sub 20K-miler currently available for around £70,000. Considering most were lavished with options which pushed their price up to nearer six figures from new, that’s a negative swing by almost 30% – in just 24 months. For a nearly new Porsche 911 outside of the Turbo line-up, it’s a big fall.

And yet the Carrera T’s legacy might be shaping up quite nicely. The market (and indeed, the production line at Zuffenhausen just prior to that) has been taken over by the presence of 992s, offering new perspectives on this runout 991.

Anyway, to the destination of our road trip: six hours north, on the deserted mountain roads of the Hartside Pass, Cumbria. I’d not driven these roads since our 964 v 996 v 991 Anniversary group test back in early 2014, and in truth I’d forgotten just how good they are. A mixture of faster, swooping sections with slower, squiggly bits to keep things interesting, the surface is smooth, the sightlines generous. It’s the ideal playground for the Carrera T.

Get the full Carrera T road trip feature alongside 116 pages of high-end Porsche content, all delivered to your door as part of our lavish magazine dedicated only to the Porsche 911. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.

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