Porsche 911 Carrera T: Why It’s the Driver’s 911 | Edmunds


[MUSIC PLAYING] ALISTAIR WEAVER: Let me
take you back to 1973. The Vietnam War is ending. The Watergate scandal
is gathering pace. The world’s first
cell phone call is being made in New York City. And Porsche is selling
this, the 911T. Back then, the T was
the entry level 911, complete with a
2.4 liter engine, developing 140 horsepower. Now, in modern terms, that’s
roughly equivalent of a Honda Fit. Quick, this is not,
but there’s a reason it’s for sale for $149,000. You can feel the gearbox
mesh from cog to cog. The steering is unassisted. The engine sings
sweetly behind my ears. This is an entirely different
experience to the complication and electronics of today. This is automotive vinyl. And just as vinyl has staged a
Renaissance, so has the 911T. Billed as the
driver’s choice, it seeks to fuse the spirits
of the early 911’s with the sophistication
of today, and a price tag that’s
just north of $100,000. So is this a better,
more emotive version of what is already Edmunds’
favorite sports car, or just a poor pastiche of an icon? We’ll find out on
Road and Track. Choosing a modern 911 is a
bit like picking a pizza. There are over 20 different
ones to choose from, all working from the same base. The T takes a standard
Carrera, the Margarita, if you like, and adds
a few choice toppings. The rear window glass is
thinner to save weight. The 20-inch wheels are pinched
from the Carrera S, their sport suspension, a limited slip
differential, a sports exhaust, and of course, some
go faster stripes. Our car also has these optional
carbon fiber seats, which I detest for three reasons. One, they cost $5,200, and
I’d rather have a nice watch. Two, choosing than
means depriving yourself of the rear seats,
which for me, at least, have always been a key
part of the 911’s appeal. And thirdly, you look
like an absolute numpty getting in and out. [GRUNTS] [MUSIC PLAYING] This car really grew out of the
success of the special edition 911R, a car that proved to
Porsche that its customers are willing to sacrifice absolute
speed for driving pleasure. I remember being on a
press event for the 911 and talking to Walter Rohrl,
the German double world rally champion turned ace
Porsche test driver. I asked him whether there was a
place for a driver-focused 911 in the mainstream
range, and he gave me this kind of knowing look,
and well, here we are For a man who built
his reputation in the crazy, super-powered
[INAUDIBLE] era of rallying back in the 1980s, it’s
ironic that Rohrl has always been an opponent of
the horsepower war. He reckons anything more than
350 horsepower on a road car is, frankly, unnecessary. And you know what? I think he’s got a point. This T takes a standard
engine from a Carrera. So it’s a 3-liter
with small turbos developing, 370 horsepower,
and 331 pounds feet of torque. Now, when you think
that the Ford Mustang GT has 460 horsepower, that
doesn’t sound like a lot. But only the most
tedious bar bore would describe this
car as underpowered. On the road, it just feels
beautifully considered. As you might have
noticed, our test car has a PDK flappy paddle
gearbox, a $3,700 option. It might make sense
in city traffic, but it undermines the Carrera
T’s purity of purpose. Me, I’ll stick with the stick. [ENGINE ROARS] This engine doesn’t sound as
good as the old air-cooled 911s that died in the late 1990s,
nor did it sound quite as good as the naturally
aspirated engine in the previous generation 911. But to say that somehow it’s
lacking in sonorous appeal is, frankly, a nonsense. And it’s helped in
this car by the sports exhaust and the
thinner rear glass, and the loss of sound deadening. So it’s all a lot more
immediate, a lot more emotive. I mean, it just sounds like
nothing else on the road. [ENGINE ROARS] This car has standard
sport suspension, which lowers the whole thing by
0.39 of an inch or about that. What I like about it is it
offers some flexibility. So you can use this switch
on the steering wheel to pull the throttle and
gearbox into multi-mode, then you can use another button
here to detune the damping, and give yourself a
bit of compliance, which on a road like
this, is what you need. If you have [INAUDIBLE]
that’s too stiff, you’re going to feel like
the car is going to pitch you off the road at any moment. This is wonderfully
compliant, and that helps add to that kind of
fluency that has always been a 911 trademark. Rivals like the Jaguar F-type
and the Mercedes AMG GT have more power, and a kind of
brutish front engine appeal, but they lack the subtlety,
the nuance of the 911. It really is a
experience like no other, and that’s why it’s been
around for as long as it has. Even the steering,
which was criticized on early versions of
this generation 911 for its electric assistance,
has been honed over time. So it now offers a
superb combination of a feel and waiting. Porsche, more than
any other mark, is great at just subtly
evolving its cars, just refining them
over time, just adding those little nuances
that, taken together, make a huge difference
to the experience. Our car has the optional
rear axle steering, which cost $2090. In simple terms, what it does
is to encourage the rear wheels to steer, and in doing
so, make the wheelbase feel shorter than
it actually is, and that enhances the car’s
agility on twisting roads like this. I’m not a big fan of going deep
into Porsche’s option range, but this is one that
I would add to my car. As a road car, I can’t think
of another sports car that has this depth of
ability, and is better suited to everyday driving
on roads like these. I’m really worried
that this review is starting to sound like a
eulogy, but this car really is that good. Now, part of the
appeal of the 911 has always been its
ability to take you to the shops on a
Friday, then let you dabble in some racetrack
shenanigans on a Saturday. So I think it’s
about time we leave the beauty of Mulholland
Drive in Malibu, and head to the
Edmunds test track. [MUSIC PLAYING] Now our test team have
just crunched the numbers and sent me over
the acceleration figures for this car. Now, Porsche claims a Carrera
T with a PDK gearbox to 0 to 60 in four seconds dead. Our test team, 3.6 seconds. That’s extraordinary. That’s just 2/10 of a second
slower than a Carrera S, and it’s not far behind over
the quarter mile either– 11.8 seconds versus
11.4 for the S. So don’t tell me this
car needs more power. Let’s hit the track. [MUSIC PLAYING] Now, Porsche doesn’t
claim that the Carrera T is a circuit special. T stands for touring, not track. It’s not as hardcore as a
motor sport derived GT3 or GT2, but don’t think for a moment
that it’s not fun out here. In some ways, less is more. To get the best out
of a GT3 or a GT2, you need loads of talent
and loads of commitment, but this car, it’s so
much more accessible. You don’t have to
have divine talent to start to have some fun with
this car and start to play with its limits, really
start to feel it move around. There’s less air or less
grip than you’d get in a GT3, so ultimately, it
will be slower. But you know what? That’s not what having
fun is all about. It’s not all about lap time. It’s about how the
car makes you feel. A little lift into this
corner, turn it back on the power, hard on the
brakes, turning a little as we brake. Couldn’t do that
in an early 911. Turn in, feed the throttle,
feel the under steer power out to counter that. It’s just fabulous. Give a little into the
corner here, sacrifice a bit to get the power on the exit. Breaking now and turn in. Little bit of brakes
on the turning, it just helps the nose in. [MUSIC PLAYING] Our test track also has a low
friction handling circuit, which simulates driving on ice. So here we go onto
this low-grip surface. Now, this is kind
of a bit of fun, but it also gives
you a real sense of where the car’s basic
handling balance is. I mean, can you imagine
doing this in an old 911? You’re basically just
steering it on the throttle. Flick it one way at
left, get the weight distribution going, a
little bit of power, try and get the pendulum going. [GIGGLES] I’m getting paid for this. Just tease the throttle,
work the steering, flick it back the other way. Porsche have done
such an incredible job over the years of
basically honing what is a physical imperfection. If you were designing
a sports car today, there’s no way that you
would hang the engine out behind the rear axle. [MUSIC PLAYING] Even though it’s a turbo
engine, the throttle response is pretty good, which allows
you to play with it like this. It’s hard work. We’ve been debating in
the Edmunds office which of these we’d buy if we
found $100,000 hiding under the mattress. It’s a fun sport,
but to be honest, it’s not really the point. These plastic air-cooled 911s
are an investment piece, a toy, an alternative to a boat or
maybe even an oil painting. They’re not really a car in
a traditional sense, this is. The 911T is about Porsche
rediscovering its roots. Yes, they sell more SUVs
and sports cars these days, but it’s still with 911
that defines Porsche, and it’s variants like
the T that define the 911. If you’ve got oodles of cash
and you’re a track day warrior, then buy a GT3 and
don’t regret it, but if you want a fun, fast,
surprisingly practical road car, then buy the Carrera
T. It’s not only the best all-around 911 on
sale today, it’s also the world’s finest sports car. [MUSIC PLAYING] For more information on the
Porsche 911T, head to Edmunds. And for more videos
like this, be sure to subscribe to
our YouTube channel.

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