Car reviews - Porsche - 911 - Carrera T
Classic 911 styling, premium interior, razor-sharp throttle response, keen automatic transmission, communicative steering, forgiving ride
Room for improvement
High pricing before expensive desirable options are added, limited storage spaces, cramped rear quarters, we can’t afford one just yet
Porsche easily achieves sportscar nirvana with purist-friendly 911 Carrera T
8 Mar 2019
ADDITION by subtraction. How many times have we heard that phrase before? As it turns out, it holds some merit, particularly in the automotive industry. Perhaps no other car-maker is a better mathematician than Porsche, which has long profited from charging more for less. The 911 Carrera T, of course, is the latest example of this.
Unlike the GT3 and GT2 halo models that we have grown accustom to in the 911 range, the Carrera T is a bit of a different beast. In fact, it’s the people’s 911 – if there’s such a thing. Rather than going down the usual route of stripping weight and adding power, the Carrera T travels down an unusual – albeit similar – path.
It simply takes one entry-level Carrera and removes a bunch of unnecessary luxury features. That’s it. Aside from some different paintwork, upholstery and trim options, this is the Carrera T formula … so long as you stick to it, as we found out. So, has Porsche done the seemingly impossible and raised the 911 bar even higher? Read on to find out.
Price and equipment
Priced from $238,000 before on-road costs, the Carrera T commands a $17,500 premium over the entry-level Carrera upon which it is based. When you consider that the former is more or less a de-specified version of the latter, its sticker price starts to become confusing. As such, the Carrera T is another predictable example of Porsche inflating pricing just because it can.
To make matters worse, as with any Porsche, our test car has a long list of options, most of which are desirable but expensive. Specifically, it features 18-way power-adjustable front sports seats with memory functionality ($5990), a Sport Chrono analogue clock ($720), rear and rear-side privacy glass ($1290), dynamic LED headlights ($4990), and Alcantara trim for its GT sports steering wheel and gear selector ($1890).
It also has an interior package ($6270) consisting of Sport-Tex seat centres, GT Silver door-handle pull loops and seatbelts; and black leather trim with GT Silver contrast stitching for its door inserts and central bin lid. Its Lava Orange paintwork costs $5990, while the upgrade to a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmissions adds $6670. As such, the price as tested is $271,810. Make no mistake, this example looks really, really good on the road. The 911’s classic styling sets such strong foundations for customisers to play with.
Standard equipment in the Carrera T includes Agate Grey side mirrors and model designation, a front lip spoiler, Titan Grey 20-inch Carrera S alloy wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero tyres (245/35 front, 305/30 rear), high-gloss black central twin tailpipes, four-point LED daytime running lights, dusk-sensing headlights, LED tail-lights, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, an Alcantara roofliner and an electric park brake. A rear mechanical limited-slip differential, a Sport Chrono package, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and a sports exhaust system also feature but are optional on the Carrera.
While the Carrera T goes without the Carrera’s 7.0-inch Porsche Communication Management (PCM) touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay support, 12-speaker Bose sound system, two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing windshield wipers, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and two-seat second row as standard, they have been added to our test car as no-cost options.
If you thought a de-specified Carrera means a reduction in premium-ness, you’d be wrong. The Carrera T more than justifies its eye-watering pricetag with a luxurious, albeit impractical, cabin.
If a surface area isn’t covered in high-quality leather, it is instead made of soft-touch plastic that avoids being too squishy and too shiny. If you’re not a fan of the latter, it can be optioned with full leather upholstery. Either way, high-gloss black trim punctuates the dashboard and centre console, while satin chrome surrounds the air vents, gear selector and other elements.
Inside, the Carrera T doesn’t represent a stark departure from the 911 formula, with it instead differentiated by its different upholstery and trim options. Nonetheless, the most obvious change is its lack of traditional door handles, which are instead substituted for fun pull loops that prove to be the talk of the town among the uninitiated.
The optional 18-way power-adjustable front sports seats fitted to our test car are both comfortable and supportive, helping the Carrera T inch closer to becoming a daily driver. However, this comfort does not extend to the optional rear seats, which are best described as an empty gesture. Adults find themselves contorting to fit in the quarters. Legroom is almost non-existent, while headroom is also not generous. While young children will fare better, without headrests, long journeys are not likely.
Compared to its Carrera counterpart, the PDK-equipped Carrera T loses most of its sound-deadening materials and adds lightweight rear and rear-side windows, which help to reduce kerb weight by 5kg, to 1445kg (without options). This drastic change is noticeable in the cabin, with Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels noticeably higher. However, all is forgiven, because the engine’s soundtrack is delightful … but more on that later.
Measuring in at 4527mm long, 1808mm wide and 1285mm tall with a 2450mm wheelbase, the Carrera T provides 145L of cargo capacity in its frunk, while more storage is located behind the 50/50 split-fold second row that can be stowed for additional space. Takeaway coffees and drink bottles weren’t at the forefront of the 911 interior designers’ minds when they decided to go with two cupholders behind the high-gloss black trim above the glovebox. This ‘hidden’ set-up doesn’t work well and looks plain ugly when used.
Engine and transmission
The Carrera T is motivated by a rear-mounted 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder boxer engine that produces 272kW of power at 6500rpm and 450Nm of torque from 1700 to 5000rpm. While our test car is fitted with the optional seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission and paddle shifters, the standard Carrera T comes with a seven-speed manual gearbox with a shortened shift throw.
Porsche claims the PDK-equipped Carrera T can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds while on the way to its top speed of 291km/h. Give it a quick squirt and there is no doubt that these marks are more than achievable. Throttle response is razor-sharp, with inputs immediately met as the PDK kicks down a gear or two.
Make no mistake, the Carrera T is ready and raring to go, looking for any opportunity to assault the tarmac with intent. While peak power is developed at a higher engine speed than usual for a turbo unit, the wide band of maximum torque ensures the Carrera T has enough mid-range shove to keep things moving along nicely. At the same time, we feel that it could be even quicker, although it doesn’t need to be. A lesson in restraint, perhaps.
The intuitiveness of the PDK proves to be a master-stroke, helping to extract every ounce of performance from the engine. It’s a smooth-shifting unit that knows exactly what it needs to do and when. While it can hold onto gears for longer than it needs to, it eventually adapts to any drastic changes in driving style.
This experience is dictated by the Carrera T’s four driving modes – Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual – that allow the driver to alter engine, transmission, exhaust and suspension settings while on the move. Normal is best suited to every-day driving, delicately balancing comfort with performance. Alternatively, Sport ups the ante with quicker gear changes and more aggressive shift patterns, while Sport Plus goes a step further. Individual, of course, is a case of go your own way.
The Carrera T’s sports exhaust system can be controlled via dedicated button located on the centre console. You’d be mad to not have it switched on at all times. The crackles and pops enjoyed on overrun are almost worth the price of admission alone. The flutter from the turbochargers is also enjoyable, while the volume generated is enough to attract the unwanted attention of neighbours.
While Porsche claims the Carrera T drinks 8.5 litres of 98RON petrol per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle test, we are averaging 11.1L/100km over 670km of mixed driving. Enthusiastic stretches are likely to blame for our inflated figure, despite the keen idle-stop system’s best efforts. Carbon dioxide emissions have been tested at 193 grams per kilometre.
Ride and handling
The Carrera T’s suspension set-up consists of MacPherson-strut front and multi-link rear axles. As mentioned, it also features Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) – or electronic damping control – which reduces ride height by 10mm when compared to the Carrera. Furthermore, its springs are harder and shorter, while the front and rear anti-roll bars are stiffer.
While this sounds like it probably makes for a punishing ride, that’s far from the case. Naturally, imperfections in the road are felt, but they’re not bone-crunching, even with PASM on its harshest setting. If anything, the only thing to be mindful of is scraping the front lip spoiler that comes perilously close to steeper driveways and speed bumps.
To make matters better, the Carrera T features variable-ratio electric power steering that is so good, it could be easily mistaken for a traditional hydraulic set-up. It is so communicative, in fact, that the driver can feel everything happening to the chassis. This level of balanced steering prowess turns the Carrera T into a true point-and-shoot weapon.
So, if the suspension and steering are both bordering on perfection, then the Carrera T must also be an accomplished handler, right? You bet! Only a hint of bodyroll is detected when it’s thrown hard around a corner. The Carrera T is so great it belies its proportions, feeling like an even smaller vehicle. Of course, it’s not, but it just behaves like a go-kart.
Drive is exclusively sent to the rear wheels, while the aforementioned mechanical limited-slip differential teams with a differential lock on the rear axle to enable Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV), which ensures grip when powering out of corners with intent. As a result, the Carrera T never feels out of control, with the rear end failing to really step out when unprompted, no matter how hard it is pushed.
When required, additional downforce can be created by the integrated rear spoiler that is deployed via a button located on the centre console. Critically, it extends further than that of the Carrera, helping to also improve the Carrera T’s on-road presence. Similarly, braking performance is strong from its ventilated discs that are clamped by four-piston callipers.
Safety and servicing
Neither the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) nor its overseas counterparts have crash-tested Porsche’s 911 range. As such, a safety rating for the sportscar is unavailable.
Standard safety equipment in the Carrera T extends to six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and electronic stability and traction control. Advanced driver-assist systems, such as adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring, reside on the options list.
As with all Porsche models, the 911 Carrera T comes with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, including three years of roadside assistance. Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.
Showing restraint is one of the hardest things to do in life. Once you’re onto a good thing, it’s easy to keep wanting more. In the automotive industry, this usually means increased performance, but Porsche isn’t one to follow the rules. Of course, it has followed this trend in the past, but the 911 Carrera T represents a shift in its thinking.
Perhaps the best compliment we can pay the Carrera T is that its limits are approachable on public roads. No, we aren’t talking about top speed, because dynamics are the key here. Unlike some other sportscars, the Carrera T does not intimidate. Its suspension is forgiving enough that it can almost be a daily driver, while its steering is just perfect.
To make matters better, the 3.0-litre boxer offers up plenty of usable performance, thanks to its twin turbochargers and intuitive PDK transmission. As with any sportscar, the Carrera T makes plenty of compromises, but once you’ve driven it, it’s really hard to care. Porsche has proven – yet again – that less is truly more. If only we could own one.
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