I decided it was time to get back into a sports car. I didn’t want a muscle car, or a sports sedan, or a sporty truck or SUV. I didn’t want something over or underpowered. I’ve had those types of cars before and while fun in their own way, are not the experience I want now.
I wanted something fun to drive, and don’t care about blistering Nurburgring lap times or 0-60 in 2.1 seconds. I wanted something that makes every jaunt to the store fun. I wanted a manual, because it is more fun. See the theme here? Fun, fun, fun, with enough practicality and utility to be used as a regular car in 4-seasons.
For perspective, I’ve had a wide spectrum of performance cars, including a couple AP1 S2000s, C5 Z51 and Z06, C6 7L Z06, TT inline 6, TT V6, NA V6, supercharged V8s LSA and LT4 in CTS-Vs, turbo 4s inc a FiST, NA boxer 4 in FR-S, some TDIs and trucks with turbo-diesels (Cummins and Duramax) and NA gas V8s. Each car has certainly had its strengths and weaknesses, some overpowered, some underpowered, some too heavy (none too light), some conflicted in purpose, some razor sharp focused. I like cars (and trucks) that are good at what they do, and their intended purpose. I like cars (and trucks) that have character and personality - that makes them fun and enjoyable to drive.
So I found a Carrera T spec’d very close to how I would order a car. If you aren’t familiar, the T is supposed to be a more driver focused, back to basics interpretation of the 911. The idea is less is more (which in Porsche terms might mean less is more money), and simpler is better. The T is based on the already very good base 991.2 Carrera with a 3.0 twin turbo flat six, making 370HP. It includes a mechanical LSD, shorter final drive, short shifter, standard lightweight Gorilla glass in the back, SporTex seat material, sport exhaust, sport suspension (lowered 20mm), torque vectoring, less sound deadening and a few other tidbits
This car is lightly spec’d, with manual, sport chrono, 18-way seats, T interior package and a few other bits. The Carrera T unlocks some unique options - lightweight bucket seats from the GT cars (~$6000), carbon ceramic brakes (~$9000), and rear wheel steering (~$2000). This car has none of those, and I’m perfectly OK with that. I think part of the T ethos is simplicity and lightly optioned to keep a relatively low price, otherwise it gets too close to other 911 models. To my surprise, I got this car with a significant discount. I had looked at the Carrera T about a year ago when it was announced and there were no discounts, and some markups at the time. Waiting a year made a difference.
This car will be used as my primary driver, with my wife’s SUV serving as the people/stuff hauler. My kids also have cars that can be used for utilitarian purposes if needed. I traded a full-size pickup for the 911. Since I’ll be using this car for routine use in four seasons, and it is winter now, I had the dealer fit the car with Porsche approved Pirelli Sottozero winter tires. Not only does Porsche have approved winter tires, but the dealer makes this super easy by storing the off-season tires to mount in the Spring/Fall when needed. This is a simple thing, but hugely beneficial and a strong deciding factor in choosing this car. Could I get winter tires for a Corvette or Camaro or Mustang? Well, probably, but I’d have to deal with the hassle of storage and transport and/or a different set of wheels and TPMS for winter use. Having manufacturer approved winter tires, in the right sizes, and a dealer that makes swapping them as easy as coming in for an oil change is super convenient. Other manufacturers should take a lesson from Porsche here.
So how does it drive? I’ve driven only two 911s before, a 996 and 991 GT3. There is something unique or different about a 911. The visibility is great. There is a sense of sitting forward, low but upright so you can see in front of the car. The sound from the back, and the characteristic mechanical rasp of the flat six is still there. The turbos in the T mute the exhaust a bit but you gain some turbo and blowoff valve action. You can hear the induction when opening the throttle. Torque is plentiful and early with full torque at 1750rpm. Turbo lag is minimized and really only noticeable if you go look for it (say normal mode in 6th gear at low rpm and step on it). The manual is notchy and slick, except when cold when it’s a bit clunky. The clutch is weighted very nicely. Steering is electric but has lots of feedback, even on winter tires. The gauges are perfect - analog and clear with center tach. The gearing is close and feels right - the car will pull in every gear with the flat torque curve. Even with only 370hp, it feels like more. The car is very quick and feels light.
I admit that 370hp is a low number today, and actually was something I had to overcome considering how much this car cost. I literally could get twice the power for less money in something like a Hellcat. But this car is not about drag times, 0-60 or even lap times. It is about fun and an engaging drive. It’s about the old school enjoyment of good handling, manual shifting, and balance. I love it, and am beginning to understand why the 911 has such a cult following.