The Porsche Carrera T Unlocks What You Want in a 911

It has just as much real-world pace as a car with twice the power and several hundred pounds of extra ballast.

porsche 911 carrera t

Porsche really feels the need to fill every niche, not only across the entire spectrum of cars, with two SUVs, two sedans, wagon versions of the sedans and coupe versions of the SUVs, and two sports cars, each of which comes in half a dozen flavors or more. But to label a 911 as “T” is nothing new. The moniker goes back to 1969, when a 911T was simply the entry model, below the 911E and top-performing 911S. For 2018, the letter T was revived and applied to the 911, and other models shortly thereafter.

The new 992 Carrera T, follows the same formula as the previous generation and other T variants across Porsche’s wide spread of offerings. It combines the base-model engine with a host of handling-focused chassis options tailored to driving enthusiasts. In order to drive traffic to the T section on the order form, Porsche has rather intelligently removed certain options from the standard Carrera, which even at its most basic, costs $106,100. In order to get them back, one must choose the T.

For instance, you can no longer get a 7-speed manual transmission with the Carrera. Same goes for the limited-slip differential, rear-steering, and the PASM sport suspension. You can’t get optional lightweight glass, rear seat delete, or carbon bucket seats, either. While even the most basic 911 Carrera is certainly a nice, sporty car when compared against the spectrum of all cars in production, in a 992 you’d have to spend the extra $17,000 for the Carrera S just to have access to these sporty features - forget them coming standard.

I loved the previous, 991.2 generation Carrera T. It felt lively, energetic, and special compared to the standard Carrera model, and was my second-favorite variant following the epically fizzy GT3 Touring. It was a shockingly good value as well, considering the level of engagement and fun. That experience set me up for high expectations with this generation’s version, despite the fact that I have openly preferred every variant of the older car to what’s being sold now. To me, all 992s have finally gotten too big, wide, and too complicated.

Driver-oriented setups typically involve weight reduction, which the Carrera T accomplishes with a standard manual transmission, saving 84 lbs, deleting the rear seat, using thinner window glass, and removing some sound deadening. With the manual and no rear seats, it’s 128 lbs lighter than the base Carrera at the curb, which is good. One could go further with optional carbon bucket seats (for $5,900) or the optional carbon roof (for $3,800). Conversely, with 18-way power seats, extended leather, and no-cost PDK or rear-seat, you could get 90% of the way back to the weight of a Carrera. So the T, itself, may or may not mean much, depending on how you choose to build your own personal car.

This Carrera T starts at $116,000, roughly splitting the difference between the Carrera and Carrera S, and $12,000 more than the last-generation car - a big jump, but consistent across the model range.

My tester, splashed with Python green ($3,270) and loaded up with both functional and cosmetic options, would go out the door for $147,000 - an eye-watering number for a 911 with the lowest of seven possible power output levels. Suffice to say, I would make different decisions in order to maximize value, but one can’t blame the Porsche press office for including a ridiculous amount of options on their demonstrators. It’s what they do.

The numbers aren’t particularly impressive for something so expensive: Porsche says the 379-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter six will push the T to sixty in 4.1 seconds with a manual, or 3.8 with the PDK, en route to a top speed of 181 mph. For less money, you can go way quicker in a Corvette Z06, if you can get one. Our manual-equipped test car got the power down well but otherwise delivered a rather unimpressive launch, again, for a very expensive car. In the real world, a four-second sixty run is still very quick.

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But up on the mountain, the Carrera T really begins to shine, where the numbers don’t matter nearly as much as engagement and feel. At the low end of 3,200 lbs and change, 379 HP with 331 lb/ft across a very wide 4,500 RPM power band is usable and effective, shoving the car out of third and fourth-gear corners with a pace that surprises and delights. Cars like the BMW M4 and Shelby GT350 make substantially more power, but lug around hundreds of extra pounds over the Carrera T. It reminds you multiple times per mile that power is important, but power to weight is more important. While the Carrera T’s dynamics breaks no new ground, the particular blend of manual transmission, a medium amount of power, and reduced mass is a joy to throw around the canyon. It has just as much real-world pace as a car with twice the power and several hundred pounds of extra ballast. Plus, less weight means you don’t need an expensive set of pie-pan ceramic brakes to haul it down. Porsche’s standard steel offerings are more than sufficient in this application.

If you were to equip one of these with the 8-speed PDK at no cost, something I would not recommend, you would also be privy to PTV Plus, an active torque vectoring system integrated into the gearbox, also unavailable with the base car. The manuals have a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential that manages power perfectly well. All but the absolute most aggressive driving is below the limits where 331 lb/ft can break the traction offered by 305/21” rear PZeros.

One thing I would recommend is rear steer. I have liked it in every single 911 in which it’s been equipped, which, in the case of press demonstrator cars, is all of them. It reduces the turning radius by a foot, which is actually quite practical for parking maneuvers, or in the case of content creators, making u-turns for videography. It also adds high-speed stability with a hint of “crab walk” to simulate a lengthened chassis at higher speeds.

The perfect Carrera T is one so equipped as to still come in at under the cost of a well-equipped Carrera S. If, like in this press car, you went ham on the options, you can end up building a car that makes no sense. If you optioned in the good performance options like rear-steer, Power Steering Plus, and the extended range fuel tank, you’re in at under the base price of a Carrera S. Then, if you add in a couple good extras, you would easily be able to keep the final price under $125,000, which is where the real value is. Spending $3800 for a carbon roof or $5900 for carbon bucket seats on a Carrera T, while nice to have the option, makes no practical sense. Neither does PDK, fancy colors, extended leathers, or optional lighting packages. The T is a recipe best served simple, where value is at a maximum.

In fact, the biggest argument against the Carrera T is the Boxster / Cayman GTS 4.0. if you’re not going to have the back seat in a 911, you don’t need such a big car. And the Boxster and Cayman GTS, even loaded up with luxury options, will still be cheaper than even a base Carrera T. The power-to-weight is better, the six-speed shifter is better than the 911’s seven-speed, and there’s the song of a naturally aspirated engine, to boot. Speaking of boots, the Boxster and Cayman have two of them, making them more usable for road-tripping than a 911.

If that is off menu, if you simply must have a new 911, the Carrera T is the most cost-effective way to get the sporty bits you want at a price you can swallow.

I previously said the last-generation T was my favorite 911 but for the GT3 Touring. This time around, I’ll have to settle for it simply being my favorite 911 if you can’t afford a better one.

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