It’s easiest to precis the Carrera T as a 911 Carrera S’s sportiest chassis tune with a less powerful, 380bhp Carrera-spec flat six in the back. But while close to true in a broad-brush sense, that omits plenty of the finer detail that sets this car apart.
To one entry-level 911 Carrera, Porsche adds the 10mm-lowered PASM Sport adaptively damped suspension that is typically only offered as an option from Carrera S trim upwards. It also adds Carrera S 20/21in alloys, an active sports exhaust, a PTV mechanical locking rear differential and Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package (with dynamic engine mounts) as standard. You can add four-wheel steering as an option (as on our test car), but PDCC active anti-roll bars are not offered.
Porsche then fits as standard the seven-speed manual gearbox that it added to the 911 Carrera S not long after the launch of the ‘992’-generation car. That makes the Carrera T the only current 911 yet to combine Porsche’s 380bhp, 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six engine with a three-pedal transmission (although a PDK dual-clutch automatic is available as an option).
Then comes the weight reduction. Instead of the Carrera’s leather seats, the Carrera T gets part Sport-Tex cloth-upholstered front seats as standard but no ‘+2’ back seats in its default spec. It gets lightweight glazing and a lightweight battery, and it is stripped of most of the 992’s sound-deadening insulation.
The 991-generation Carrera T came without its infotainment system as standard, you may remember, and it went even further with cloth loop-style interior door releases. More weight could have been saved in this car by fitting lightweight bucket-style seats as standard (you can add them as an option), along with special lightweight wheels or specially developed passive suspension dampers. But that’s not the case.
As it is, the finished Carrera T has a homologated kerb weight of 1470kg without fuel or a driver on board – that’s only 52kg heavier than a three-pedal 911 GT3, but just 10kg lighter than a like-for-like Carrera S.
Bigger weight savings would no doubt have inflated the car’s price, which, as it is, sits quite neatly and equidistantly between those of a 911 Carrera and Carrera S. Even so, we can’t help thinking that 10kg isn’t much of a result for a derivative that champions lightness so loudly.
The Carrera T’s Agate Grey signature is on much of the fascia trim; you can add Slate Grey seatbelts, seat detailing and carpet stitching at extra cost. But there’s no special short-throw gearlever here. Matt black touches, among them 911 Carrera T-branded sill plates, are pleasingly understated, but there’s little that feels truly different or special from any other 911.
The primary control layout and ergonomic execution is mostly very good. A low, well-supported driving position has all the space even taller drivers should need. The steering column adjusts widely, and pedal placement is slightly offset inboard of the wheel arch but nothing like as much as 911s of decades ago. The manual gearlever is conveniently placed, with important secondary controls near to it. And visibility, by sports car standards at least, is very good in all directions.
Instrumentation, a combination of digital and analogue displays, is typical of Porsche. It puts a generous amount of information close to your eyeline, so there’s little need to dive into the central infotainment screen when driving.
A smaller-circumferenced, ‘GT’ steering wheel is fitted, for the added directness of steering input it brings. It houses, in its lower right quarter, the knob for the selection of Wet, Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual drive modes.
Cargo practicality is impressive for the class, as we’ve come to expect from 911s. The 132-litre ‘frunk’ is large enough for bigger cases, and the space behind the front seats is useful for bulkier items, with lashing points beneath the rear window. Moreover, if you want Porsche to put the back seats back into your particular car, they will – and for no extra cost.
Porsche has renewed the software for the 10.9in PCM touchscreen infotainment system since the 992-generation 911 was launched in 2019, and while the new system has a simplified layout, it also has better networked connectivity through Porsche Connect and offers wireless smartphone mirroring for both Apple and Android phones. There is, however, no wireless device charging just yet.
The factory navigation system is displayed clearly, straightforward to program and easy to follow, with mapping that can be relayed into the instrument binnacle. Voice input of destinations generally works at the first time of asking, and the live traffic re-routing function is very good.
As standard, the Carrera T gets an eight-speaker, 150W sound system, although our test car had the optional Bose surround- sound audio set-up (£1152), which had plenty of power and good all-round reproduction quality – even if a noisy Carrera T is hardly the ideal mobile listening room.
Given that some current 911s have close to 650bhp, the Carrera T’s 380bhp seems like a manageable amount – and it feels that way even when you’re seeking optimal standing starts in persistent rain. The 305-section rear tyres certainly produce plenty of traction in the wet, aided by the 911’s famously rearward weight distribution. And the car feels quick even when you can’t quite use all of its reserves through first and second gears.
Porsche’s Wet mode was introduced with the current 911. It does more than simply prime the electronic traction and stability aids for more proactive intervention; it also changes active cooling, active aero, automatic gearbox and torque vectoring settings where applicable.
In practice – in the manual, rear-drive Carrera T, at least – the effect felt quite subtle. It’s no launch-control-like traction management system: even with all the electronics active, it’ll let the drive wheels spin up and flail through standing water if you use too much power on take-off. Even so, Wet mode did seem to optimise our standing starts. Our fastest 4.8sec and 4.9sec 0-60mph runs were recorded with it active and weren’t oceans wide of the 4.3sec mark that Porsche claims for the car in optimal conditions.
What is, by the standards of turbocharged performance engines at least, a pretty crisp, progressive and free-revving power delivery from the car’s flat six helped our cause a lot, as did Porsche’s characteristically long-feeling gear ratios. The engine’s boost needs a split second to build when you first flex your foot, but instead of erupting forth, it spreads usefully thrusty performance across a wide band of revs and keeps working hard beyond 7000rpm.
So while the Carrera T may ‘only’ produce 332lb ft, it feels quite fast when accelerating in gear – and then it just keeps on pulling. In fourth gear, in the wet, 50-70mph took just 3.4sec (Chevrolet Corvette C8, in the dry, 3.1sec) and yet the Porsche will romp on to almost 140mph in that same ratio before it needs another one (Corvette max speed in fourth 117mph).
There is a clear sense of deep-founded strength of performance and satisfying flexibility to this powertrain, and that is quite the compliment for what is the 911’s engine at its least powerful. It’s hard-working, responsive and fast-revving and doesn’t feel in any way unfit for or beneath this car.
It’s also well matched to a manual gearbox of well-chosen ratios, with a shortish, medium-heavy and meaty-feeling shift action that quickly becomes intuitive. The five-plane, seven-gear factor amounts to no over-complication in normal driving, because you learn only to use seventh for relaxed motorway cruising. That aside, you simply enjoy the gearbox as you would any well-tuned, enticing six-speeder.
Wet weather wasn’t a significant obstacle to the Carrera T carrying serious speed around the Millbrook Hill Route and producing enough grip to sweep around its variously bumpy and adverse-cambered corners with lots of precision and stability. Here, where the Cup tyres of a 911 GT3 or similar might have floundered, the Carrera T’s regular P Zeros cut through standing water easily, and it was ready to be driven hard.
The four-wheel steering system did a great job of stabilising the car on turn-in and keeping it from rolling into throttle-off oversteer as 911s are so typically liable to do; as did Porsche’s Wet mode stability controls.
When you want to go fast, both are a boon. But when you want the chassis to cut loose and to have some fun with the electronics deactivated, the net result can be a car that needs to be driven particularly hard in order to become animated, and it doesn’t always seem as natural and progressive on the limit as it might.
There is a surprisingly uncompromising sporting character about the Carrera T that won’t be expected by those who have misread this car as some halfway-house compromise of a Carrera and Carrera S. Even if you’re fairly well versed in the model’s mechanical constitution, you may be anticipating a sports car that rides, handles and generally conducts itself like a 911 Carrera S of a just-so optional specification.
And yet this car’s particular combination of suspension and powertrain settings and of wheel and tyre, allied to its lack of isolation measures, makes it somehow seem not only slightly firmer and shorter-riding than a typical 911 but also notably rawer, coarser and noisier over mixed surfaces. Yes, it is grippier, more stable and a touch more direct in its dynamic demeanour, and not unlikeable for it, but it is perhaps not the richer, more analogue-feeling, old-school 911 experience that some might have wished for.
In short, this is a rather purposeful sports car whose ability to grip a well-surfaced road or track and keep its driver riveted by the speed and energy with which it covers the ground is considerable. On track – and even in the wet – it has adhesion, body control and cornering stability of the sort that a Porsche GT-department creation of only a few model generations ago would have struggled to live with.
On uneven roads, like other PASM Sport-configured 992s we have tested, it does feel a little short on general dexterity in its body control. The car threatens to run out of suspension travel over bumps of bigger amplitudes, and it occasionally crashes over sharper edges. But it is always compelling to drive, if not always as perfectly settled or supple as it might be.
Our test car had Porsche’s optional four-wheel steering system fitted, which undoubtedly added an extra layer of higher-speed cornering stability and low-speed agility to the Carrera T’s dynamic armoury, and we might suppose that a standard car could have felt a little more natural and dynamically expressive without it. But that one system couldn’t and wouldn’t have a transformational influence on a chassis that, at its heart, really just wants to be driven hard in order to show how serious a sports car a ‘regular’-series 911 can be.
Porsche 911s remain relatively noisy-riding sports cars, even those latest models that some say have become overly cosseting. It’s the result of a heavily loaded rear axle shod with wide tyres and which must be firmly sprung and located.
Take away the 992’s sound-deadening insulation and back seats, and the Carrera T transmits quite a lot of noise. You wouldn’t feel inclined to wear earplugs, but a greater level of background coarseness than other 911s would exhibit is clear – as are, perhaps even clearer still, the thumps and bumps of the axles as they deal with sharp-edged intrusions.
There is little of the plushness of other 992s apparent here. The car’s motorway gait is generally fairly settled and comfortable, though, and there is more progressive damper response from the adaptive suspension on country roads if you use their firmer setting. Leave them ‘soft’ and you can find the ride feels a little under-controlled and is seldom any more comfortable.
This is the type of discretionary purchase about which it’s hard to complain when inflation bites. But even among its peers, the 911 has suffered relatively starkly of late.
Compared with the price of our original road test car, a 992 Carrera S PDK is some 18% more expensive now than in 2019. Audi R8 prices have crept up by a similar margin over the same period, but a Jaguar F-Type R has only suffered 10% inflation, as has a BMW M4 Competition, while a McLaren GT’s price is up by only 3%.
So when a new Carrera T appears with a near-£108,000 asking price, some of us have a right to raise an eyebrow. Porsche enjoys a strong reputation, of course, so it can hike prices knowing that strong residual values mean its customers won’t feel the worst of it.
And yet how many other volume sports car brands could charge six figures for a sub-400bhp sports car and be so confident of selling them? The Carrera T’s standard equipment smacks a little of that same ‘confidence’, although the suspension and powertrain upgrade the car gets sweetens the deal a bit.
If this is the performance value champion of the 911 range, the truth is – at face-value list price, at least – it may not look like it. But it is still a sports car that will return better than 35mpg at a cruise and has a 400-mile-plus tank range and abundant useful carrying space.
We’ve yet to find a 992-generation Porsche 911 that couldn’t serve as a benchmark for the full-sized sports car class in so many important ways. With the Porsche 911 Carrera T, so the story continues.
This new, extra-sporty 911 may have only an entry-level engine, but it has all the real-world pace, flexibility and combustive appeal that a top-level driver’s car really needs. And thanks to its excellent manual gearbox, it can involve its driver in ways that so many paddle-shift rivals simply can’t.
The car’s dynamic composure and purposeful handling allow it to carry remarkable speed. But if you expected it to be a cut-price 911 S/T, with more tactile feel, analogue character and accessible handling than a Carrera S, you will come away disappointed.
The greater comfort and dynamic versatility of a standard Carrera S, or even of a base Carrera, will probably mark the Carrera T out as a slightly peripheral player to most 911 buyers. But those who want a fast 911 without the typical fast-911 price tag ought to respond to its directness very keenly indeed.