2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T Review: Focus feature

Porsche

Can you feel a 100-pound weight difference in a two-and-a-half-ton sports car? We couldn’t, and we expect that most people don’t have the necessary butt calibration to feel a weight change of three percent.

In any case, with the new Porsche 911 Carrera T, such mass loss is not important. Given that much of the T’s trimming over a base 911 Carrera results from deleting the latter’s tiny rear seats—a 911 amenity that most will not miss—any change in overall weight balance might be more significant. A rear-engine car such as a Porsche 911 can always stand to lose a few pounds in the rear.

The T designation—for “Touring”—launched in 1968. At the time, Porsche saw the model as the basis for a homologated race car in a stock-body touring series. The name has long been known, however, as the stripped-down, poverty-pack 911, a car for people who want all the 911 feel but no unnecessary coddling. That first T was drop-kicked from the 911 lineup in 1973. Nowadays, when the base Carrera starts at just over $100,000, a poverty-pack 911 doesn’t exist. With its relaunch in 2017, the T became something of a connoisseur’s choice. Priced between the base Carrera and the more powerful Carrera S, the car was and remains the lightest 911 Porsche builds.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T green front rear quarter driving action
Porsche

We make light of the Carrera T’s hefty lightness—the model also receives thinner glass and reduced cabin insulation—but at a claimed curb weight of 3254 pounds with the standard seven-speed manual (an eight-speed automatic is a no-cost option), the 379-hp, rear-drive Porsche is indeed pretty light for a modern car. The $118,050 base price is more than $5500 below that of a Carrera S, a car with 64 more horsepower.

Is the T worth the spend over the base Carrera? It’s best to think of the former as an optioned-up base car, since nobody really buys a stripped Carrera anyway. Standard T upgrades include Porsche’s electronically adjustable PASM Sport suspension and Sport Chrono package. The Chrono pack includes driver-selectable performance modes, dynamic engine mounts that help dampen the pendulum effect of that rear engine’s mass in corners, and a dash-top chronograph.

With the T you also get access to some options unavailable on base Carreras, including active rear-wheel steering and that rear-seat delete. (The seats can be optioned back in for free.) On top of that are distinct 20-inch wheels and light exterior changes over the base Carrera, including a lightly revised front fascia.

In the age of 450-hp stock Mustangs, the 379-hp and 331 lb-ft produced by the T’s twin-turbo, 3.0-liter flat-six can seem like a yesterday figure. That’s a clue to intent: This model isn’t for those swayed only by power figures. And working a sports car up a winding road with just enough power will always be more fun than holding one back when it has too much.

The T attacks back roads with organic and naturally weighted steering, a surplus of grip, and a lively throttle pedal that seems connected to the engine by tensioned piano wire. At 178.3 inches long, the current 911 is about the same length as a C7-chassis Corvette (2014–19), a car most people would not consider stubby. That said, the Porsche seems to operate with a complete lack of slack or slop, seemingly smaller once in motion, and so you wear it like a second skin.

No doubt the T’s corner appetite is aided by that $2090 rear-steer option. The rear-steer system was featured on our test car, and it massages rear toe settings in concert with steering and chassis conditions in order to sharpen helm response. Some rear-steer setups can make a car’s back end feel disconcertingly loose and rubbery, but Porsche seems to have worked hard to make its mechanism operate transparently.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T green front driving action
Porsche

Does the car just have focused, immediate turn-in, or is it that rear steering? Or is it both? Hard to say. One thing we won’t say is that the T is a go-kart; Porsche has evolved the 911 over the years into a very sporty grand tourer, striking a pleasant balance that stops well short of feeling darty or hyperkinetic.

It’s fun to tell people you have a seven-speed manual. And it’s always more fun to row a stick than to punch a paddle. But you never feel that the seventh gear is necessary here, as the turbocharger provides so much torque in the basement. Peak torque arrives at a diesel-like 1900 rpm and hangs on through 5000. Top gear isn’t particularly tall, so the engine still pulls nicely there. You may commute in a 911 T for years without ever feeling the need to slap the shifter into seventh gear, but that is not a criticism, only an observation.

Thus, the T is for 911 pilots who aren’t obsessed with numbers. Not that the base 911 (if you can even find one in dealers) is a dull pencil. But as always with Porsche, you can get a little more from having a little less.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T

Price: $118,050 (base)

Highs: Balance and feedback, and a sense of outsmarting the option book to land a sports car that punches above its weight.

Lows: The “cheap” enthusiast 911 that still ain’t cheap. Knowing that we live in an era where a bare-bones European performance icon weighs 3200 pounds. Everyone will ask why you didn’t spend another five grand for the 64 additional ponies of the Carrera S.

Takeaway: Balance and restraint in an age too often lacking both.

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Comments

    One little tidbit missing in the fantastic Carrera T article. Tune, free flowing exhaust and upgraded GTS turbos. 600 HP coupled with a lightweight, two wheel drive platform for way less cost than a Turbo S. Sign me up! Modern day restomod. See you later 1M Singer Porsche.

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