The Porsche 911 has never really been cheap as a new car, and now, in its current 992 generation, it’s downright prohibitively expensive. The base Carrera starts at $107,550, and while that car is super competent, it doesn’t give you the ability to option things like a manual transmission. Stepping up to the Carrera S costs almost $20,000 more, and that’s before adding any of the good stuff from Porsche’s notorious a la carte options list.
That’s where the Carrera T, a.k.a. the Goldilocks 911, comes in. It was the most affordable trim of the 911 way back in the early long-hood era of the model, and it was re-introduced in 2017 with the 991.2 generation as the lightweight driver’s spec, for people who didn’t see a need for the extra horsepower of the Carrera S. Now it’s back, and friends, it’s better than ever.
For 2023, the 992 Carrera T follows the same formula as the previous version but takes everything up a notch into 911 nirvana. The recipe starts with the base Carrera drivetrain, which offers a very respectable 379 hp and 371 lb-ft of torque. The Carrera T can be had with either a seven-speed manual or an eight-speed PDK and exclusively sends power through a mechanical limited-slip differential to the rear wheels. (Porsche Torque Vectoring is standard too.) For the manual, the shifter is 10mm shorter than the standard Carrera S gear lever and rev-matching can be enabled in all drive modes. This is a good thing because, thanks to the standard Sports Exhaust system, everyone will notice if you bungle a heel-toe.
The drivetrain features alone would be enough to classify the Carrera T as rad, but Porsche didn’t stop there. The chassis is stellar, too, thanks to the inclusion of adaptive suspension and Porsche Active Stability Management Sport, which is normally a no-go on the base Carrera and which lowers the ride height by 10 mm. This allows the T to be reasonably civilized in town and then, with a twist of the drive-mode dial, a total animal in the canyons. Other notable exterior features include the 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels from the Carrera S, shod in Pirelli summer tires. Steel brakes are your only option, and this is totally fine. A carbon-fiber roof is optional.
Inside, things are great, too. Basic sport seats are standard, but the 18-way power units or even the carbon buckets can be fitted, and every Carrera T comes with the rear-seat-delete package included. There are some unique materials inside the T, but overall the interior is basic 992, which is to say very nice, apart from Porsche’s utterly stupid decision to put the driver’s drink just below the shifter. It makes the driver’s cupholder useless on manual-transmission cars. Give us back the 997's cupholders. They were perfect.
The Carrera T will be the lightest 911 you can buy in 2023 at 3,254 lbs – that’s 100 lbs lighter than a Carrera S, so we’re not talking chump change. For further comparison, my 2003 996 Carrera 2 weighs 3,020 lbs and has significantly fewer comfort and safety features. It also makes around 59 fewer hp.
A great deal of that weight savings comes from reduced sound deadening and the move to a lightweight lithium-ion battery as standard. The rear-seat delete helps, too. Without driving a standard Carrera back-to-back, it’s hard to say how much of a noticeable difference this diet makes, but lighter is almost always better.
If you’ve not been fortunate enough to drive most of the current 911 range, the base Carrera’s 64-hp deficit compared to the Carrera S might seem like a huge deal. I am here to tell you definitively that on the road, it’s not. You absolutely won’t miss it. The base Carrera drivetrain is so responsive and geared so well for road use that hitting go-to-jail speeds requires no effort. The Carrera T is a fast car. Full stop. Calling it anything else is just ego.
The car I drove was fitted with the not-available-at-launch carbon bucket seats and a carbon roof, in addition to the seven-speed manual transmission. It didn’t have an overabundance of options, which is perfect, and it was probably the lightest car Porsche brought out for the media drive event.
Our route took us up L.A.’s famous Angeles Crest Highway, which, after recent rainfall and temperature drops, is in less-than-ideal shape for a spirited drive in a fast car. Despite this, the inherently friendly nature of the 992, coupled with the slightly lower output and a good set of tires, let me push the car fairly hard — within reason, of course.
That the 911 is dynamically brilliant shouldn’t be a surprise, but the Carrera T handles with particular ease. Compared to the much more expensive and hardcore GT3 Touring I drove recently, the T is a lot less work. It’s a slower car, which accounts for some of that, but it’s also softer-edged, which makes it more approachable. I was able to wring the car out while also carrying on a casual conversation with my passenger. This isn’t something you can easily do with a more hardcore 911.
After just a morning with the Carrera T, I can tell you definitively that it’s the 911 you should buy if you plan to drive hard. The GTS is amazing but super expensive, and odds are good that you don’t need the power. The Carrera S is great, but it’s a less focused car, and for the extra money, you’re getting a badge and access to lifestyle options more than any noticeable performance improvement. The base Carrera is great, but if you want a three-pedal driving experience, it’s a non-starter.
The 2023 Porsche Carrera T is set to hit dealers in the spring with a base price of $118,050, including a $1,450 delivery charge. Of course, being a Porsche configurator junkie, I’ve already spec’d the perfect car, thus saving you a considerable number of mouse clicks. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.