Of today’s 911s, the Carrera T is the sure-fire future classic
It’s not often I nominate a brand-new car as a future classic. Usually a car’s potential becomes more visible with a little age and a few years off-sale to allow its contribution to be assessed with a little hindsight and its position in the natural order of things to become apparent. But just occasionally, it’s pretty obvious from the go. The Carrera T is one of those cases.
Now, when the talk is of future classics in general and the eligibility or otherwise of a Porsche 911, it would be too easy by far simply to nominate a GT3 RS or some other slice of automotive esoterica from the 911 stable. But that would be a trifle obvious and perhaps a little less interesting as a result. So in fact I’m going to the completely other end of the range and suggesting one of the cheaper models from the current range: the 911 Carrera T.
For those of you not completely au fait with the dizzying number of 911 variants, the T is meant to be the slightly more sporting yet still (relatively) affordable one. This is at stark variance to the mission of the original 911T of the 1960s, which was merely a detuned bottom of the range model with all its good bits removed—fifth gear, antiroll bars, crankshaft counterweights, alloy pistons, internal brake ventilation, and so on—for customers who couldn’t afford the real deal.
The modern 911 Carrera T made its debut in 2017 as a run-out special for the previous, 991 generation of 911 before it was replaced by the current 992 series. That T was pleasant enough but, looks aside, was nothing you could not have created from ticking the right boxes on the options list. However, when Porsche launched the 992, it did so without making a manual gearbox even an option on the base Carrera model. If you wanted three pedals in your footwell, you had to buy a Carrera S. It seemed a strange decision at the time, but now we know why: Porsche was saving up for the Carrera T.
So what we have here is a 911 with the standard Carrera engine and also a seven-speed manual gearbox. That is not all by any means. The specification also adds active-damping sports suspension, sports exhaust, a limited-slip differential, and thin glass while removing a load of sound deadening and the rear seats (which can be optioned back in, free of charge) to make this the lightest 911 this side of a GT3. On the T, four-wheel steering becomes an option (and a highly desirable one too); the system cannot be had on a normal Carrera for any amount of money.
It is entirely true (and perhaps a little cynical) that Porsche deliberately omitted the manual gearbox from the standard Carrera spec from the outset so it could give the T a unique selling proposition, but when the result is a car this good, it’s not hard to find forgiveness.
What’s so great about the T? It’s something that 911 bores like me have banged on about for decades. So often when the subject is the world’s greatest sports car, the best versions are among the simplest and least unaffordable, just nicely specified with a small number of choice upgrades to really bring out the best of the model.
Which is precisely what we have here. You feel the benefits at once. The car is over 500 pounds lighter than certain other 911s, conferring a feel and agility you cannot synthesize. Because the engine is not required to produce much turbo boost, it can flatten out its torque curve over a wider area, so while it might not ultimately kick as hard as some of its stablemates, the engine’s performance potential is easier to access. And there’s less turbo lag too, which means better throttle response. With the sports exhaust, it sounds brilliant too.
But even this does not readily explain why the Carrera T is such a joy to drive. The answer to that lies in another quirk more commonly seen in the 911 than in any other model of car of which I am aware. Somehow this new standard specification, together with the optional four-wheel steering just comes together to create something that gels extraordinarily well, like a chef taking some high-quality but otherwise unremarkable ingredients and combining them in a way and into a form that puts magic on your plate.
For however good it looks on paper, in reality the 911 Carrera T is better still, to the point that it leaves you wondering why on earth you’d spend any more on any other 911 until you reach the realm of the specialist versions like the GT3. The Carrera T really is that good, and as surefire a future classic as you’ll find among the “normal” 911s on sale today.