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2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T: The Purist's Base Model

CLIFFORD ATIYEH

Although the standard, 370-hp Porsche 911 Carrera occupies the lowest slot in the lineup, we maintain that such a 911 is all the sports car anyone really needs. The entry-level 911 has always punched above its weight—the current PDK models have hit 60 mph in as little as 3.4 seconds (!) in our testing—and now, Porsche has created a relatively inexpensive special edition for purists who aren’t seeking excessive horsepower. Give a warm welcome to the 2018 911 Carrera T.

At $103,150, the Carrera T shares the standard Carrera’s twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter flat-six with 370 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque that is paired to a seven-speed manual transmission or, for $3730 more, a PDK dual-clutch automatic. Although it wears special door decals and has some other specific visuals, one has to look deeper to see most of the changes.

The T stands for Touring, although here Porsche took the opposite approach of its luxury-leaning 911 GT3 Touring. In the Carrera T, pull straps replace the inside door handles, the glass used for the rear and rear-quarter windows is thinner, sound insulation is reduced, and, in Europe, there’s a big black hole in the dash. There, Porsche will ship the Carrera T without a stereo or infotainment system, but in the United States—where backup cameras will soon be mandatory—the car won’t be as barren. Like the original 1968 Carrera T, the new model’s claim to fame is being the lightest 911 in the Carrera lineup, and with a claimed curb weight of 3142 pounds, it’s lighter than a base Carrera by 11 pounds. (We’re curious to find out just how light the car will be on our scales; a sparsely optioned 2017 911 Carrera manual we tested weighed 3229 pounds, while a 2016 GT3 RS came in at 3155.)

Perhaps the Carrera T’s shortened gear shifter—topped with a red shift pattern—shaves a few ounces. Porsche claims the reduced weight and shorter final drive ratio (3.59:1 versus 3.44:1 in the manual Carrera) cut 0.1 second off the manual T’s zero-to-60-mph time; with the PDK, there’s no improvement in acceleration. The manual’s top speed, at 182 mph, is 2 mph quicker than the automatic’s. Based on our tests of the 911, we expect the manual T will hit 60 in under four seconds and the PDK version to be even quicker than that.

A sport suspension that’s lowered by 0.4 inch and a mechanically locking rear differential come standard, and rear-wheel steering is optional. Those chassis upgrades are available only on the T—and the Carrera S—not on other base 911s. Best of all, the crackling, spitting sport exhaust comes standard with electrically actuated baffles and tubing that pipes genuine intake noise into the cabin.

Dotting I’s and E’s

Inside, the Carrera’s optional four-way power Sport Seats Plus (with new Carrera T-specific cloth inserts) and smaller-diameter GT Sport steering wheel are standard. Buyers also can upgrade to thinner, carbon-fiber bucket seats, available for the first time outside the GT3 and GT2 RS; the $5200 option also deletes the rear seats. The contrast stitching and embroidered 911 badging seen here is another T-exclusive option, at $2410. Outside, the 20-inch Carrera S wheels, SportDesign mirrors, modified front lip spoiler, engine hatch louvers, and badging all are grayed out. The Carrera’s 16-color palette is down to just nine, although Porsche has a habit of taking special requests.

The first Carrera T models will reach U.S. dealers in March. Although $11,000 more than a Carrera, the T costs $3000 less than a Carrera S and brings some exclusive equipment. Fight the temptation to add too many options, and the Carrera T could be the best value among all 911s.