There’s far too much horsepower and speed lust today. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time at the wheel of the 911 GT2 RS and creating a rift in the space-time continuum as I merged onto the Autobahn. Ultimately, this 700-horsepower supercar is excessive in all respects unless it is tracked regularly where it can be truly appreciated.
In the GT2, even if I did drive it hard and fast, I felt like I’d only scarcely tickled the first tenth of its limits. I felt cheated. As I write this, I’m also reflecting upon the McLaren 720S I recently drove in the same way. This might explain why I prefer the 570S. And also, why the Carrera T is a new modern favorite 911 of mine.
Me = Car
I love a car that I feel comfortable pushing near its limits. Too much power, despite Everest-like amounts of grip, overwhelms me and my survival instincts urge me to back off. I admit that this is the result of my own shortcomings as a driver however I don’t mind adding that I can handle myself properly when the opportunity arises. Cars like the Mazda MX-5, Volkswagen Golf R, Chevy Corvette Stingray and many Porsches are engineered to perfection where the available power never really devastates the car’s chassis. So harmonious and neutral is the state of general tune that the levels of confidence, balance and speed are perfectly aligned.
The idea behind all of this is driving pleasure, the art of driving, because driving matters. The 2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T is a car that is fulfilling, not intimidating, yet so fast and satisfying.
Porsche has brought back the “T” for people like you and me who love to drive, who crave the drive. It was back in 1967 that Porsche introduced the first 911 T, a Touring car designed with the sole purpose of conquering the road. With the 2018 Carrera T, the good people from Stuttgart have reconnected with their original and humbler roots. M. Porsche Sr. said many quotable things in his life and perhaps the most pertinent to the “T” is: “A formally harmonious product needs no decoration; it should be elevated through pure form.”
For the Carrera T, Porsche started off with the basic Carrera and the not the “S”. All niceties such as sound-deadening have been removed or reduced in the name of weight savings. Interior door handles are gone, replaced by pull-straps. The optional and necessary carbon fibre seats are not only lighter than the standard units but delete the rear seats as well. All of this is done in the name of keeping the car pure.
The 2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T retails for $116,500, or $12,500 more than the Carrera. Included in the price are Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV), Sport Exhaust and a number of tasteful accents in agate grey. My tester included the carbon seats, rear axle steering, black LED dynamic headlights, alcantara covered steering wheel and shifter, Bose audio and a few other bits such as the shockingly attractive 20” Carrera Sport wheels. The total worked out to $135,850. My Carrera T would feature the seats, which are outrageously comfortable despite having a fixed back, and rear steering. That’s all this car needs.
Power is not everything
Every time I took to the steering wheel, I knew I was in for a treat. The twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-6 cylinder engine develops an easy 370-horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 331 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,700 to 5,000 rpm. This mill is not de-tuned from the S’ 420-horsepower, it’s more like power is created effortlessly. The same goes for acceleration. The car will reach 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and initially, it feels faster than that. Quickly however, the brain’s eye gets accustomed to the speed at which the scenery is moving – it is far from overwhelmed. This is not possible in a GT2 RS. Depending on your experience and skill set, it is conceivable in a GT3.
The 911 Carrera T’s mechanical controls are masterful. The clutch is not only progressive but it cooperative. It forgives the driver for being released a 10th of a second too soon, or too late. It latches onto the flywheel, sending the power to the rear wheels as though all of these components were one. A good launch, a relatively easy task to achieve, is never always this satisfying – think hitting the golf ball just right off the “T”, every single time.
7-speeds, rear steer
While I have nothing but praise for the engine, the transmission and I did not always agree on when a 5-7 or 7-5 shift was appropriate. Unless I repeatedly did something wrong, some gears appeared locked out. Otherwise, the lever’s travel and weight are crafted perfection. And then there are the drive mode. While most will opt for Sport, Sport+ or set Individual to their liking, I had no choice but remain in Normal. In the latter setting, there was no rev-matching programming. I will not have a car do the work for me. I can see why this system exist but I would have loved to feel sharper throttle responses and a more vocal sport exhaust system without the aid.
On the handling front, the combination of PASM, which lowers the car by 10mm, PTV and rear axle steering (an ABSOLUTE must) transformed the Carrera into a Cayman. The 911 T’s 1,440 kg (3,200 lbs.) curb weight reacted as though it was more like 1,200 kg and the engine was in the middle, and not the rear. Steering seemed telepathic, not only cutting the turning circle but creating a level of agility more akin to the 718. Left in Normal, as it were, the 911 would doddle in surprising comfort in town or tear the pavement off the ground when required.
The 2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T displayed all the signature 911 driving characteristics including some very mild understeer and front end lightness when accelerating through a corner. This vital feedback is more often than not filtered and/or non-existent in high-powered performance cars. Because the 911 Carrera is a pure driving tool this type of information lives on. It is heightened in the Carrera T because of the louder cabin, how one reacts when walking up to the car, the decals, the wheels, and in this specific Carrera’s case, the manual gearbox.
Even for the very initiated, the lower-powered Carrera T is more of a Porsche 911 than any Turbo or GT2. It is real. It is genuine. It is pure as it needs no decoration, except for the decals, of course.