911 to a t

An­other win­ning it­er­A­tion of the porsche clAs­sic

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - Motoring -

One rea­son car com­pa­nies find it so hard to be con­sis­tently prof­itable is that what suc­ceeds can be mad­den­ingly coun­ter­in­tu­itive. Ex­hibit A is al­ways the Porsche 911 – a sportscar that traces its in­spi­ra­tion to the lowly Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle, has an in­her­ently un­bal­anced lay­out and a de­sign that has barely changed in more than half a cen­tury. Yet it’s the planet’s peren­nial favourite and Porsche comes sec­ond only to Fer­rari in its abil­ity to turn base me­tal into gold.

The 911 comes in umpteen it­er­a­tions and, frankly, some of them stretch credulity in their abil­ity to lever­age the en­thu­si­ast’s fond­ness for nerdy tweaks and styling cues. Those who can af­ford to in­dulge their fan­tasies will find 911s that pro­gres­sively ap­proach race car lev­els of per­for­mance and han­dling. At the pin­na­cle is the GT2 RS, re­viewed re­cently in these pages, which is both bril­liant and ut­terly im­prac­ti­cal as a day-to-day propo­si­tion. It’s also al­most three times the price of an en­try-level 911 at an eye-wa­ter­ing $645k.

So it’s with a mea­sure of scep­ti­cism that I ap­proach every new star in the 911 con­stel­la­tion, won­der­ing which weak­ness in the mo­tor­ing en­thu­si­ast per­son­al­ity it sets out to ex­ploit.

The 911 T lies at the other end of Porsche’s galaxy from the GT2 RS, just one step above the en­try level Car­rera. The “T” stands for Tour­ing and it ref­er­ences a 1968 model that gave Porsche its first Monte Carlo Rally win. It means a car stripped back to es­sen­tials that aims for driv­ing pu­rity.

So in­creased power is not the goal. It fits the base Car­rera en­gine – a 272kW 3.0-litre turbo flat-six – then cuts and dices fa­mil­iar in­gre­di­ents to make the car leaner and in­crease its ap­peal to keen driv­ers. These in­clude low­ered, ac­tive sus­pen­sion, a shorter rear-axle gear ra­tio, me­chan­i­cal dif­fer­en­tial lock and sports ex­haust. It also has the go-fast Sport Chrono Pack­age and a short gear lever.

Weight has been shed by re­mov­ing the rear seats, fit­ting light­weight glass to the side and rear, min­imis­ing sound dead­en­ing and us­ing fab­ric door pulls in­stead of levers. If you pay more, rear-axle steer­ing from more ex­alted 911s is avail­able. Do­ing all this your­self to a stan­dard 911 would cost a lot more than the $18k pre­mium in the price, while some el­e­ments – the weight re­duc­tion, for ex­am­ple – would be im­pos­si­ble. To sig­nal its unique­ness, the 911 T gets mi­nor re­vi­sions to the front spoiler and rear grille, spe­cial wheels and de­cals along its side that spell out its name. The net re­sult of all these changes is a car that sprints to 100km/h one-tenth quicker than a

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