REVIEWS
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OVERALL
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The Top Gear car review:

Porsche 911 Carrera T

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Porsche 911 Carrera T is entry-level by name but certainly not by performance

8

OVERALL
VERDICT

For:

Unfiltered driving experience. Iconic 911 design. Performance.

Against:

Might not fizz quite like other higher ranking 911s in the range.

What is it?

The essence of driving nirvana. A rear wheel drive sportscar, preferably with a manual transmission in the middle and an engine with just the right amount of poke to exploit the chassis dynamics, all foiled in a soundtrack that will more than tickle your aural senses. And still be attainable for most part. Arguably, the previous generation Porsche 911 Carrera T (Touring) - the most basic iteration of the Stuttgart sportscar maker - fits this bill to an absolute tee. 


Based on the entry-level 911 Carrera, the T is powered by a 3.0l flat six turbo charged petrol engine with 272 kW and 450 Nm. However, what places it on a pedestal much higher than its brethren is the fact that it has gone under a crash diet of sorts to bring its overall weight down. It has shed 20 kg over a standard 911 Carrera, thanks to thinner rear glass, the dispensing with rear seats and the deletion of the radio and satnav - although you can option these back at no cost. 


There’s a 20mm suspension drop, a mechanical differential, a 7-speed manual or PDK, and a sports exhaust as standard. In essence, all of the right ingredients that make up the concentrated 911 experience. 



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Layout, finish and space

There are leather trimmed seats with cloth inserts, harking back to the original 911 Carrera T of 1967, making this not a cheap downgrade by today’s standards, but rather a bare-bones - and I say that in jest - analogue driving experience for the keen driver to relish. There are door pull straps instead of handles, all in the interest of the lightweight repertoire. As mentioned, there are no rear seats in here.

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What is it like on the road?

With the 911 Carrera T, it is all about driving and we did just that over the few days we had it on test. Take on a school run, it laps that bit up. Go to the grocery store for daily essentials, no problem. Then take it through a snaking road and it obliges to your whims all the while spreading a wide grin on your face. 


Its power outputs on paper are perhaps laughable in the wake of the latest hyper hot hatches as the Merc-AMG A45 S, but in my experience, on paper and on road performance in Porsche parlance means punching well above its weight. This was true one evening when I happened upon the latest BMW M8 Competition Coupe on my way home, which felt, how shall I put it, rather racy. 


There we were, at the traffic light showdown, me in the 911 Carrera T PDK and the other bloke in the M8 Competition. I primed the drive select mode to Sport+, summoned the Launch Control sequence, the light went green and the Red Carrera T you see left the M8 for dead. Much to the amusement of its driver who kept flicking his headlight beams, probably in awe of the Carrera T’s efficient launch off the line. 


Granted, the M8 will be quicker with Launch Control activated, but for that moment, I felt triumphant and not once did I envy the guy in the M8, not once! For me, the 911 Carrera T represents a 911 that one can truly drive on a daily basis instead of keeping it locked in the garage for the odd weekend jaunt. It makes you want to slip behind the wheel and just drive for the sake of driving. 


There are more powerful sportscars on the market, but none offer this sort of unfiltered, driver enjoyment dished up by the Carrera T - especially at the price. There are hot-hatches such as the Merc-AMG A45 S, BMW M2 Competition and the Toyota Supra that you could opt for, but neither feel as special as the 911 Carrera T in my view.


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Running costs and reliability

During our test tenure, we needed to look back at the history of the Carrera T and searched far and wide for an original from the 60s to no avail. Nonetheless, we traced a Carrera L instead, not to prove the performance disparity between the old and new car, but rather just how much bigger the new cars have become. And instead of me harping on about that, just take a look at the pictures for contrast.


Thanks to the owner of this Carrera L you see in the pictures, Tony Vaughn, who has owned the car for more than 30 years now and has not only kept it in good nick, but drives it quite regularly. A Porsche aficionado, he owns a few other Porsches in the garage that he showed me in pictures, but not too keen to share with the public at the moment. 


So after the shoot, we let Tony have a go in the Carrera T and, as expected, he was blown away by the performance of the current Carrera T. “Wow, it really goes like a rocket!” said Tony and when we told him that the car was essentially the “entry-level” into the 911 range simply had him floored at the prospects of what the rest of the range felt like. 


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Final thoughts

That said, the Porsche 911 Carrera T might still represent the previous generation of the 911, but it feels every bit as modern and drives as such. It might not be the most powerful thing out there and is outgunned on paper by a lot of modern sports cars mentioned above, but none of those feel this special and that if little else is why you should consider a demo 911 Carrera T before splurging on the aforementioned cars. 


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