Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive verdict

When it was launched, the Carrera T’s spec sheet raised more than a few eyebrows among enthusiasts. Billed as a more focussed Carrera, it would perhaps fill the gap for those wanting a GT3 Touring-inspired enthusiasts car for a rather more conservative budget. Some 20 kilograms lighter than an equivalent 991.2 Carrera, the T – further reviving the Touring name used on the entry-level 911 of the ’60s and early ’70s – also boasts key chassis tweaks to entice wallets from the pockets of purists.

The car’s paring back includes thinner glass aft of the ‘B’ pillar (an idea taken from the GT2 RS), rear seat and PCM delete (speccing them back in is a no-cost option), plus a removal of some sound deadening. By way of chassis tweaks, the Carrera T comes with Sport suspension as standard, something you can’t spec on a 991.2 Carrera, plus a mechanical limited slip differential so long as you spec the manual gearbox.

Speaking of transmission, the diff’s final drive ratio has been shortened, though the gearbox itself still has seven gears – this isn’t the same unit as found in the GT Department’s 911 R or GT3 Touring. In terms of engine, the Carrera T utilises the same 370hp flat six as the entry-level 911, though a Sports exhaust comes as standard specification. Elsewhere, your main touch point to the car comes via a smaller-diameter GT Sports wheel, and you’ll sit in four-way electrically adjustable seats (therefore the lightest outside of a bucket) with Sport-Tex centers replacing the usual leather. On paper it seems the Carrera T has been built purely for serious driving in mind then, but is the reality any different?

First, the good news. The 911 Carrera T improves on what is already a fantastic entry-level 911 in the standard Carrera, offering a car with slightly more focus overall. The differences are mainly small but nevertheless evident, for example we felt the T is incrementally more sprightly accelerating out of corners than its entry-level stablemate. Likewise the gearbox, often a source of anguish for Total 911 since its inception (due to a clunky shift and vagueness in gear selections) offers a better throw, though it’s more to do with the sensations brought about by a stubbier shifter rather than any mechanical overhaul.

The Sports chassis, however, is excellent. It’s perfectly palatable over longer journeys (we should know, we drove the Carrera T back from Monaco to Porsche GB HQ in Reading) and offers plenty of poise and – that word again – focus through the undulating twists and turns of a mountain pass. It doesn’t entirely eliminate body roll in the corners either, which we very much like, the T’s ability to move around offering a far more engaging driving experience.

There’s a little more noise to enjoy from the 9A2 flat six thanks to the removal of some sound deadening, and the fatter, smaller-diameter 360mm GT Sport steering wheel, optional on the rest of the Carrera range, is the perfect ally for pointing the car through turns, further adding to the T’s sensory delight. All this means it’s an incredibly fun car to drive on a good road.

However, there are some areas of improvement that the Carrera T project has shunned, largely revolving around that seven-speed gearbox: its shift is still less than perfect, and a re-gear – implied at the car’s launch – hasn’t materialised. As such, due to the torquey nature of the turbocharged flat six, many mountain passes can be tackled solely in third gear, a ratio that’s also good for a top speed of 102mph. This is at odds with a car that has supposedly been built to appeal to a driving purist. We’d have liked to have seen the Carrera T utilise shorter gears.

Questions can also be raised over the level of weight-saving Porsche has subjected the Carrera T to. For one, that claimed 20kg weight saving is slightly more diminished in reality, as the quoted weight of the actual car we tested was only 5kg lighter than a Carrera. We know a company like Porsche, whose history is punctuated by proper lightweight specials, can do better.

Don’t get us wrong, at £85,576, the Carrera T is worth the £7,000 premium over a 991.2 Carrera, also representing better value for money than a 991.2 Carrera S at £87,335 plus options, but the reality is it won’t trouble anything above that in the current Porsche 911 range. The Carrera T is a fun car to drive, but it could be so much more.

Total 911 tips:

  • Do spec PCM, the car doesn’t save enough weight otherwise for its omission to matter
  • Don’t spec PDK or rear axle steering, they’re at odds with the true purpose of a Carrera T
Monaco to Reading in 48 hours: our epic road trip with the 991 Carrera T is in Total 911 issue 162, in shops January or available to order online via here

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