Thanks to the insane popularity and profitability of the Porsche Cayenne and Macan, Porsche has granted us an insane selection of the 911 to suit every single driver’s demands. But! With 24 different models in the U.S., it’s hard to sort out which coupe, Cabriolet, Targa, S or Turbo is the right 911 for you. But now we have the addition of the Carrera T in a crowded lineup.
So how does it fit in? Well, in cutting down the weight and in picking and choosing some of the best equipment across the whole 911 line, it may just be the one you want the most—short of writing a $160,000 check for a GT3.
(Okay, you’re more likely to lease one, but you get what I mean.)
(Full Disclosure: Porsche Austin set me up with this 2018 Carrera T, filled the tank, and told me to blast the roads I know best for hooning around Austin. How nice of them.)
Our own Andrew Collins took a first drive in the Carrera T in California earlier this year, but I had to sample the goods for myself. From the tuner cars, the immaculate restorations, and the GT models, I’ve been lucky to drive plenty of Porsches in varying conditions, so I figure can help sort this purchasing dilemma out for you.
You should thank me for doing all this research.
The Carrera T isn’t a completely new name to Porsche; it first introduced the “Touring” model in the 1960s as a cheaper, lighter option to the better equipped 911. That T was basically a 912 with the powertrain from a 911, while remaining low on equipment.
The 2018 iteration carries out the same purpose. It’s got a bunch of carefully selected features aimed at cutting the carbs, while snagging a few pieces from Porsche’s performance options list to make it more fun. With a starting MSRP of $102,100, the Carrera T is nearly $10,000 more than the base Carrera but a few grand less than the Carrera S.
This particular 911 isn’t about numbers or bragging rights. It’s all about the total package. Porsche gave me the rundown on the Carrera T’s selections. Look at this massive list of upgrades over the basic Carrera:
- Shorter shift knob for the seven-speed manual transmission, the kind you get on the GT3 manual and GT3 Touring
- Tighter rear constant transaxle with a mechanical limited-slip differential and torque vectoring, which you can’t get on the standard Carrera
- Porsche’s sport exhaust system, an optional item on the base Carrera and Carrera S
- An active sport suspension with a 10mm lower ride height
- 20-inch lightweight wheels
- Thinner glass for the rear window and rear side windows; only the GT2 RS and GT3 RS share this feature
- Lightweight door panels with cloth door pulls instead of your typical, overweight handles
- Reduced sound deadening like you find in the 911 GTS, GT3/RS, and GT2 RS for more noise and less weight
Should you want to be more hardcore, you can opt for rear-axle steering and full bucket seats, which are not only much lighter than the standard seats while deleting the rear seats.
My tester had an MSRP of $115,770, loaded with the optional 18-way adaptive front seats, rear axle steering, heated multifunction GT steering wheel, Porsche entry and drive, power steering plus, chrono package with Porsche Track Precision App, Bose surround system, and lane change assist. We’ll get back to the options in a moment.
The 911 Carrera T is powered by the familiar 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-six, which in this form cranks out 370 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. It covers 0-60 in a claimed 4.3 seconds, on its way to a top track speed of 182 MPH.
Rear-wheel drive is the only driveline choice here. All-wheel drive adds unnecessary weight, and that’s a bad thing for this car. Power is driven through the rear wheels via a seven-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed PDK. Thankfully my tester had the three-pedal setup.
Tipping the scales at 3,142 pounds, the Carrera T is only about 40 pounds lighter than the standard Carrera, but is the lightest 911 in the lineup. Keep in mind, the T gets a bunch of items considered optional on the base Carrera added to the list as standard features, so the weight-saving efforts do make a difference.
Any Porsche 911 is going to be enjoyable on a twisty bend. But at this price, a car really should be be solid in every condition. Just a couple minutes outside the horrific Austin traffic, there are a few good routes on which to play. On these roads, the Carrera T performs brilliantly.
The best party trick the Carrera T possesses is the rear axle steering. You get this $2,090 option standard on the GT3, GT3 RS, and GT2 RS, and on the T it’s exceptional. Every one of these should come with this option, in addition to the $280 Power Steering Plus.
I flung this 911 around a variety of corners and sweepers and couldn’t shake it up. Testing going into bends later, jumping on the brakes at stupidly deeper than I should, and forcing a bit more steering angle into the brilliantly weighted three-spoke wheel wouldn’t upset the car.
Don’t complain about the electric assisted power steering. It’s flawless at what it does, bad comments section reputation be damned. When you really pushed the Carrera T through a fast curve, you can feel the limited-slip diff and rear steering dancing perfectly in sync.
From buttons just below the shifter to adjust the suspension and exhaust noise, and the drive mode selector knob on the steering wheel, there are plenty of ways to tweak the setup of your Carrera T.
I prefer the exhaust in its sportier setting, making louder screams when the revs climb, and popping off wonderful crackles when you roll off throttle. When it comes to the suspension adjustments, I prefer the car in its standard mode, even though the sport chassis mode gives you tighter response in the corners.
If you don’t want to mess with the console buttons, the steering wheel’s knob—first featured on the Porsche 918—is an easy way to swap between settings. Leave it on the “0" for normal, turn one click clockwise to the “S” for sport to engage the exhaust mode’s fun setting and quicken the throttle response, and one more click to “S+” for sport plus, which adds on the suspension’s stiffest setting. There’s also an “I” for the individual mode, which allows the driver can customize settings to their liking.
Porsche’s PCM now integrates Apple CarPlay, so that I can throw Spotify into the audio system, respond to texts by speech, and get the option between my iPhone’s maps or the 911's navigation system. Not bad.
A good many 911 owners have this as their only car, or at least their primary one rather than some weekend toy. As such it has to be livable in every condition. The active suspension lowers the ride 10mm, and gives the car a stiffer default setting, but the overall composure is fantastic.
You’ll feel more feedback over each and every single bump or crack in the road. If you pull into a slightly steep driveway at home or work, you’re going to want to tick the option box for the $2,590 front axle lift system. Inside, the thinner rear windows and door panels, while continuing the weight-saving efforts, let me hear a bit more of the car and the road, which is a great part of the experience.
It’s composed in any condition, and really excels when you want to give it some heavier exercise. I can’t praise the rear steering enough, as it really gives the handling another level of grip while putting a big smile on my face.
The 3.0-liter turbo engine is surprisingly responsive, with a flatter torque curve than the 991.1’s naturally aspirated flat-6, providing linear response from any RPM. The Carrera T’s sport exhaust makes up for any notes the turbochargers soften up. Even when in the normal exhaust mode, the exhaust’s dual center tips are throaty.
Non-GT 911s get a seven-speed manual that took some getting used to. I’d go to downshift from sixth to fifth, and would accidentally hit third. Fortunately the engine has a flexible range, and the gear ratios are super close, so I wasn’t in any fear of popping the engine. I love how the gears match up to the turbocharged engine’s power band. Seventh gear is keeps the RPMs really low when you’re cruising on the highway, saving gas and decibels. I wish it had a dogleg setup, partially because it would allow wider shifter spacing, but mainly because dogleg shifters are cool as hell. (I do realize you can’t trust most American manual drivers to get them right, though, even on a car like this.)
Styling details for the Carrera T add a subtle grey stripe along the bottom of the doors, and grey caps on the side view mirrors, engine grill louvers, and wheel finishes.
If you’re really comparing this level of performance to a GT3, you aren’t going to come away disappointed. It doesn’t have the incredible 500 HP of the GT3, with its naturally aspirated, 9,000 RPM redline 4.0-liter six, or the thundering 580 HP of the Turbo S, but it’s great nonetheless. The 370 horses you get in the Carrera T are more than productive, and the turbos give you the response you’ll crave.
The car I tested had the standard steel brakes, which are still some of the best in the business, but I love Porsche’s ceramic discs. They give you more stopping power, exhibit zero fade when you’re on the track or enjoying a twisty road, and in the case of the Carrera T drop nine pounds of unsprung weight per corner. With a car that’s focused on shaving pounds everywhere, the PCCBs should just be standard.
Optional 18-way adaptive seats offer superb comfort, are some of the best you can buy, and have a great texture, but I want to shave every bit of weight from the car possible. For me, I’d either stick to the basic four-way cloth seats that come standard, or spend $5,200 to get the carbon bucket seats which also delete the rear seats. Besides the back seats only accommodate the tiniest of children I’ll never have.
Most buyers looking at the Carrera T have probably owned a 996 or 997. For them, any 991.1, or even the base 991.2 would be a nice upgrade, and the Carrera T is a great move.
Yes, the GT3 Touring is one you might look at on paper as a great car if you want a lightweight, fast 911 which has a manual transmission, and drops the big rear wing.
The thing is that the GT3 will cost nearly $160,000, and likely more if you go wild on the options sheet. I’ve looked at the variety of ways to set up my perfect Carrera T, and it came out to $123,060. Can you really tell me that you wouldn’t be happy pocketing $40,000 by going with the Carrera T?
I’d take the T, and wouldn’t have to think twice.