The moment anyone mentions the words ‘lightweight’ and ‘911’ in the same sentence it always invokes a special kind of excitement among genuine Porsche aficionados, especially if that nameplate includes a standalone letter ‘T’, as in Porsche 911 Carrera T.
It’s one of the latest additions to the ever-growing number of 911 variants on offer, but unlike the highly-desirable GT versions that also come with stratospheric price tags (that’s if you can even get one), the latest 911 Carrera T means you can get into a properly lightweight 911 without a requirement to downsize.
And just like those coveted 911 ‘T’ generations that came before it, this latest version is increasingly likely to become a must-have addition in the garage of Porsche buyers looking for something a bit more special in the midst of a fast-moving global EV transition that aims to relegate internal-combustion engines to a museum.
Not so quickly, says the powers that be at Porsche, and not when there’s proper lineage behind that ‘T-for-Touring’ letter. It dates back more than five decades when Porsche first introduced its inaugural 911 T in 1968.
Back then it was more a marketing move in a bid to offer Porsche buyers a cheaper way into 911 ownership after the four-pot 912 and 912 E models had done their dash, but as a result it also meant that less expensive materials were used, which in this case meant less weight. But it was only offered until 1973.
Coincidently, the 911 T also marked this tester’s introduction to the Porsche 911 while at school in Los Angeles in the 80’s. Getting to drive one of these as an 18-year-old inspired a lifelong addiction to the model.
In any case, lightweight enthusiasts would have to wait another 44 years before Porsche revived the its purest version in the standard 911 range, when the Carrera T was again launched in the Type 991.2 series for 2017/18 model years.
Indeed, those subscribing to the ‘less is more’ approach when it comes to their choice of 911 aren’t necessarily after additional outright speed either, rather, a craving for more deft handling and seat-of-the-pants feedback that comes from shedding 35kg in the case of the latest Type 992 Carrera T, but for one or two caveats.
In standard guise the new lightweight 911 comes with a seven-speed manual gearbox and no rear seats, except that Porsche Australia has made the rear seats standard fitment, though you can option them out at no cost. If you must, you can have an eight-speed PDK as a no-cost option but you’ll also gain back some of the weight.
If that’s the case, you may be better served with a standard 911 Carrera, which will not only cost you thousands less but also comes with a PDK transmission exclusively.
Thankfully, that’s only the half of Carrera T’s stripped-down formula, because there’s a more tasty weight-saving measures to drool over here – like the reduced insulation, thinner glass and a lightweight battery to boot.
Porsche has also turned-up the wick in the handling department, adding specialised kit such as a mechanical limited-slip diff with torque vectoring, which is also standard on the pricier Carrera S, though the standard Carrera misses out entirely.
Additionally, the ‘T’ picks up the Sport Chrono Package and adaptive dampers as part of its lowered (by 10mm) PASM sports suspension, which is actually optional on the Carrera S but standard on this lightweight version.
It all feels a bit like, ‘everything you need on your 911 and nothing you don’t need’, because also fitted as part of the standard inventory are split-size Titanium Grey wheels from Carrera S, along with a GT steering wheel, sports exhaust and Sports Seats Plus.
I’m actually so happy to have these four-way electric seats with leather bolsters, Sport-Tex fabric inserts, as well as matching Lizard Green speckles and seatbelts instead of an all-leather interior – much more comfortable in the Aussie weather extremes.
I can’t get enough of this Python Green paint either, nor the genuinely tasteful contrasting bits in Agate Grey, including the rear lid grille, door mirrors and top and bottom door trim. It’s actually a similar grey to the T’s Titanium grey wheels, too. The whole package just pops.
Priced from $300,700 plus on-roads, the 911 Carrera T sits smack-bang in the middle of the entry-level Carrera ($279,300) and Carrera S ($318,500).
While the standard specification gives you a seven-speed manual transmission and deletes the 50/50 split-fold rear seats (only for small kids), you still have the eight-speed PDK auto as well as the rear seats for no additional cost, but then you may well as save 20 grand and get the base Carrera which gets exactly the same twin-turbo flat-six powertrain.
Like most press cars our tester was also fitted with some tasty options, some of which I’d call mandatory for the 911 Carrera T like the exterior paint and Lizard Green interior accents
- Special Colour – Python Green: $5700
- Carrera T interior package: $4120
- Contrasting seats, seatbelts in Lizard Green
- Tinted LED Matrix headlights incl. Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus: $1540
- Active parking support: $1640
- 8-speed PDK auto transmission: $NCO
- Active cruise control with Active lane keep: $250
- Adaptive sports seats plus: $5510
- 18-way electric adjustment
- Memory package
- Light design package: $1050
- Rear seats: $NCO
- Porsche logo LED door courtesy lights: $300
Including options, the price of our tester was bumped to $320,810 before on-roads.
Mind, the Porsche 911 Carrera T is not without its rivals. Aston Martin will sell you a manual Vantage Coupe for as little as $278,900, but if you want the eight-speed auto you’ll be up for $299,950 – there are no rear seats though.
BMW has the M850i xDrive Coupe from $298,900, which is both more powerful and quicker in the 0-100km/h sprint, while Jaguar has the final edition of its F-Type in P575 R Coupe at $278,373 – again with more power and more off-the-blocks pace than the 911 Carrera T.
It doesn’t matter which Porsche 911 you end up buying, there’s something joyously familiar when hop into any version of this iconic sports car. It always looks and feels the same as the last one but with minor updates.
Interestingly, most buyers in Australia are opting to have the rear seats in their Carrera T (I get that if you’ve got kids), as well as the PDK transmission for greater liveability as a daily driver – the same spec as our test car.
The low-set seat position and perfectly designed, smaller-rimmed GT steering wheel make the driving position feel completely immersive, if not tailored to you alone after just a few minor adjustments.
The standard Sports Seats Plus are the same design as the optional 18-way versions, minus the additional powered adjustment. In either guise, these are truly brilliant pews for their ability to provide comfort, grip and bolster in equal measure.
The Sport-Tex cloth inserts are a must for me instead of the full leather trim you get in the Carrera S, especially with the Lizard Green speckles in the fabric and contrast stitching on the leather bolsters.
Same goes for the Lizard Green seat belts, anything else just wouldn’t do given this particular exterior paint.
For the 911 Porsche has continued to stick with its traditional five-dial configuration, albeit with a mixture of digital and analogue faces – namely the central tachometer, which is an actual physical binnacle.
It’s all so driver focused with the conveniently placed drive-mode selector on the steering wheel, while the stubby little gear selector becomes more intuitive each time you jump in another 911 variant.
The really special thing though, is you still have to turn the fixed key fob to start the car which is just a brilliant piece of design, and a wonderful nod to the 59 years of consecutive 911 heritage.
While there aren’t many shortcut buttons in the 911, the latest version of its 10.9-inch infotainment touchscreen is simply superb for its quick response and bulletproof wireless smartphone connection.
Overall functionality is excellent with physical AC controls, as well as those for audio volume together with buttons for suspension damping, exhaust, and a standalone Manual button for those with a need to heighten the drama with the PDK gearbox.
Open storage compartments up front for keys, wallets and phones are non-existent forward of the drive selector, but you do have a single cupholder in the centre console, just in front of a good-size storage bin that also houses a couple of USB-C charging ports.
There’s a second cupholder for the front passenger that’s effectively hidden until required.
Otherwise, space in the Carrera T is simply excellent, as it is any other non-GT 911. It’s one of many advantages of this iconic sports car, and why Porsche can’t make enough of them despite some fairly hefty price bumps over the last few years.
Up front in the ‘frunk’ there’s 132 litres available and easily enough to swallow a couple of large soft bags or a decent size cabin bag. If you option the rear seats back in, the seatbacks fold dead flat, thus creating a useful bench space. Plus, there are clothing hooks on the seatbacks and door pockets for bottled water etc.
Shoehorned into the rear of the 911 Carrera T is the same 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six from the standard 911 Carrera with PDK, making 283kW of power at 6500rpm, and 450Nm of torque from 1950rpm to 5000rpm.
In standard guise with its seven-speed manual transmission, it can go from zero to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. But with the no-cost optional eight-speed PDK, its sprint time is reduced to 4.0 seconds flat.
Top speed is 291km/h using 98 RON fuel, while the fuel tank itself is at the front of the car on the driver’s side and holds a total of 64 litres.
Claimed fuel consumption for the Carrera T manual on the combined cycle is 9.9L/100km, while the quick-shifting PDK returns 10.8L/100km. Given its lightweight performance resolve it’s not easy to drive the Carrera T in a sedate manner, so expect to return a figure closer to 14.0L/100km.
There’s something to be said for the old-school practice of turning a key to start that glorious flat-six engine in the 911 Carrera T, even if it it’s the entry-level Carrera.
Twin turbochargers notwithstanding, it still sounds like the very essence of motorsport as the 3.0-litre powertrain fires up with a proper race-level bark.
It’s intoxicating from this moment on. It’s also at this point you’ve also pretty much decided you’ve simply got to have a 911 in the garage – this exact car and colour no less, but with a couple of key changes, whatever the cost.
I’m also deeply respectful of the 911’s engineering or any other high-end sports car, and generally like to take the time to configure the digital instrument display to include a set of gauges, just so I can watch the oil temperature rise before putting the car into gear.
You’ll also want to try out the various drive modes on offer with the T, but unless you’re tiptoeing along in the peak-hour crawl you best dial up Sport, which is still entirely liveable in traffic but at least you’ll get to hear more of those delicious flat-six decibels along the way.
However, it’s Sport Plus that provides the greatest acoustic reward. Even though all the major mechanical controls are set to their sharpest state, including throttle response and quicker cog swaps, it’s still tolerable enough for the daily drive.
There’s a separate loud button for the exhaust, but it still belts out less than if the car is in Sports Plus. You’ve also got the option of customising individual settings which is handy if you want to ramp up everything but the dampers, best you leave those in Comfort for the commute.
Nevertheless, even if you’ve selected the least aggressive drive mode and do have cause to boot the boot in, the exhaust valves open up and engine response is immediately improved as if you were in Sport. It’s good to know.
And forget about so-called ‘turbo lag’, it doesn’t exist across the 911 range. Somehow the engineers in Stuttgart have completely and utterly purged the flat-six of any such annoyance that might afflict lesser performance makes and models – that alone is a constant source of delight driving any 911, especially the ‘T’.
Although it employs the base Carrera engine, I can tell you straight up, it’s quicker than you might expect or indeed what the factory claims suggest, especially if you choose the PDK transmission as fitted to this tester.
It’s half-a-second quicker to 100km/h than the manual and feels every bit as much, if not more, under full noise.
But that’s only half of the Carrera T’s formula. Give it on it proper beans out of a corner and you can feel those lightweight measures at play. The chassis feels more precise and the noise more intense – everything is in sync.
The brakes are stupendous with perfect pedal feel and serious stopping power. Even if you brake late, it won’t affect the 911’s inherently sharp turn-in.
If there’s a compromise for this extra-level of agility and sharper responses, it would be the T’s less compromising ride. It’s definitely less cushioning over more aggressive bumps and edges. But it’s also what you expect, I’d argue.
911 T highlights:
- Sport Chrono Package
- Sports exhaust with tailpipe tips in gloss-black stainless steel
- Porsche Torque Vectoring with mechanically-locking rear differential
- PASM active dampers with sport suspension (lowered by 10mm)
- 20-inch front/21-inch rear forged alloy Carrera S wheels in Titanium Grey
- 245/45 front, 305/30 rear Goodyear tyres
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Tyre sealant kit and air compressor kit
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- Auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors
- LED Matrix headlights with Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus
- Auto headlights and wipers
- Dual-zone climate control
- Lightweight noise-insulated glass
- 4-way electric Sports seats Plus
- Sport-Tex inserts
- Embroidered ‘911’ in black on headrests
- Front seat heating
- Keyless entry and go
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Surround-view camera
- Standard 2+2 rear seats for Australia – $NCO to remove them
- Heated GT Sport steering wheel in black leather
- Door sill guards in brushed aluminium with ‘911 Carrera T’ designation
- 7.0-inch digital driver’s display with analogue tachometer
- 10.9-inch touchscreen infotainment display with satellite navigation and voice control
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Digital radio (DAB+)
- Bose sound system
Solid paints: $NCO
- Guards Red
- Racing Yellow
Metallic paint: $NCO
- Jet Black Metallic
- Gentian Blue Metallic
- GT Silver Metallic
Special colours: $5700
- Ruby Star Neo
- Shark Blue
- Carmine Red
- Ice Grey Metallic
Porsche also offers Paint-to-sample for $20,380, which adds a further 110 colours to your 911 T selection, though, at a fairly hefty premium. Sadly and inexplicably, Python Green is no longer available, so for me it would be Shark Blue.
Like most high-end sports car manufacturers, Porsche doesn’t crash test its 911 sports car range (they’re too damn expensive), so there’s no ANCAP safety rating.
Nevertheless, the 911 Carrera T is equipped with the following safety equipment:
- Front, front side, side curtain airbags
- Porsche WET mode
- Adaptive Cruise Control ($NCO)
- Lane change assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Surround-view camera
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Tyre temperature display
- LED Matrix headlights incl. Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus
The Porsche Carrera T is covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty; with service intervals of 12 months/15,000km (whichever comes first).
Service costs vary from dealer to dealer, but standard service costs can be as little as $699 for a basic visit, up to $2800 for a major interval – but best to check with your dealer.
As a former 911 Carrera S owner, I found the Porsche dealers to be outstanding and cheaper than the independents when you factored in free loan cars and other benefits.
At $300,000 plus on-roads, it’s difficult to label this Porsche as a lightweight 911 for the masses – but I’d argue strongly that it still offers brilliant bang for buck.
The weight-saving measures alone are tantalising enough to lure those 911 aficionados who crave something a bit more special than a stock Carrera or even a Carrera S, without the need to spend a small fortune on a GT car. That’s even if you can get a hold of one.
The T’s inherently lightweight focus – predicated upon the standard-issue manual transmission and delete box for the rear seats – should be irresistibly appealing to those buying a 911 for its sheer drivability alone. But there’s also the visceral experience it offers to those who like to have a bit more of a crack when conditions permit.
If it were me, I’d want my Carrera T exactly as our tester was presented; in that perfect Python Green paint with Sport-Tex seats and Lizard Green seat belts. But, I’d opt for the seven-speed manual over the eight-speed PDK, and I’d definitely ditch the rear seats in the interests of greater weight reduction
Finally, if you can live with a slightly less compliant suspension setup and a bit more noise in the cabin, then the 911 Carrera T is definitely a Porsche to lust after.
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