911 to a t
Another winning iterAtion of the porsche clAssic
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