It’s OK to be a little confused by the dizzying array of Porsches to wear the 911 badge. The rear-engined sports car first appeared in 1963 and has been in production ever since. Considering that the 1,000,000th 911 came off the production line in May, perhaps this approach of catering to a wide variety of tastes with a single car makes sense; right now there are 23 different 911 variants available in the company’s lineup, and the latest of these is the 911 T.
It’s a name revived from history. The first 911T appeared in 1968, fitting into the middle of the range with bigger brakes and wider wheels taken from some of the racier cars but with what today seems like a very meager 110-horsepower engine. Fast-forward 50 years, and the new 2018 911T also fills a particular niche.
“It’s a purist enthusiast car that is appreciated for as much, I think, of what it has as what it doesn’t have,” explains Porsche North America’s COO Joe Lawrence.
There are no huge wings or carbon fiber vents like the Turbo S or GT2 RS. It wasn’t designed with outright lap times in mind or to homologate a racing car like the GT3. And it’s not weighed down with all-wheel drive or a convertible top.
“If you just look at this year, we’ve had the GT3, we’ve had the Touring package on the GT3, we’ve had the GT2 RS, we’ve had the Turbo S exclusive. These are all just awesome, mind-blowing, fast cars, also very exclusive and relatively expensive, as they should be,” Lawrence explained. “The neat thing about the Carrera T is that we’re looking more at the other end of the range and saying, ‘Hey, let’s do something fun and exciting for the purest enthusiast, maybe for the Porsche Club of America person that’s striving for that.'”
Porsche has been down this road before, stripping out the gizmos to create a more driver-focused 911 with last year’s 911R. That car took the track-spec 911 GT3 and reworked it for more road-appropriate fun. But it was only built in limited numbers, and it rapidly began changing hands for double its already considerable $185,000 sticker price. Think of the 911T like a 911R for the masses—assuming a $102,100 car can be described as such.
It’s about 10 percent more expensive than the base 911 Carrera, and it uses the same 370hp (272kW), direct-injection, turbocharged, 3.0L flat-six engine. But it gets a few goodies you can’t get on a regular 911, like thinner side and rear windows, for example. In the interest of weight saving, Porsche has also chucked out a load of sound deadening, and neither back seats nor an infotainment system are fitted by default (although they are both no-cost options). It even ditches the interior door handles in favor of plastic pull-loops, just like previous lightweight 911s.
While the engine is bog-standard 911, the suspension gets a little reworking. There are adaptive dampers—known here as Porsche Active Suspension Management—and the suspension is 20mm lower than usual. The rear axle ratio is shortened, so it’s a little faster off the line than the regular 911, and, if you want the rear-wheel steering system from the GT3, that’s available with the tick of a box (and some dollars, of course). Porsche has even shortened the gear lever for faster shifts. Yup, you read that right—the 911T is most definitely available with three pedals. (A PDK gearbox is available as a $3,730 option.)
Like Porsche said, this is a purist’s car.
Listing image by Jonathan Gitlin