Porsche Car­rera T and GT3 Tour­ing

Porsche 911 Car­rera T vs. 911 GT3 Tour­ing

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Contents - Words by Jack Rix

ZUF­FEN­HAUSEN DOES IT AGAIN, STOK­ING YOUR FANBOY DE­SIRE...

There’s a bit of an analoge rev­o­lu­tion go­ing on at Porsche right now. No, not a re­turn to han­drolled pan­els and cross-ply tires, but a recog­ni­tion that plea­sure isn’t nec­es­sar­ily linked to lap times. The Cay­man GT4 was the first to place sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence ahead of raw speed, then the 911R, then the GT3 with an op­tional man­ual gear­box, and now there’s two more old-school-fla­vor

911s to add to that list. We be­gin with the 911 GT3 Tour­ing Pack, es­sen­tially a GT3 with its wing deleted… but there’s a lit­tle more to it than that. For in­stance, did you know the Tour­ing name was first used on the

2.7-liter Car­rera RS from 1973? That’s her­itage, right there. The miss­ing wing is re­placed with a clas­sic pop-up rear deck em­bel­lished with a GT3 Tour­ing badge and a unique lip spoiler on the trail­ing edge.

You can have any gear­box you like, so long as it’s a six-speed man­ual, and it’s all-leather and cloth on the in­side, no racy Al­can­tara or roll cages here. Other than that, it’s as per the GT3, with the same op­tions (ce­ramic brakes, nose lift, LED head­lights, Chrono Pack, au­dio up­grades).

There are no rear seats, but 20-inch cen­ter-lock­ing wheels, a 44mm wider and 25mm lower stance than the base Car­rera and four-wheel steer­ing are all stan­dard. Oh, and a 4.0-liter flat-six touched by the hand of God, with

9,000rpm to play with. The Car­rera T re­sides at the op­po­site end of the 911 spec­trum. The ‘T’ also stands for Tour­ing… al­though that’s prob­a­bly a bit mis­lead­ing. Porsche is ac­tu­ally pitch­ing this one as a light­weight spe­cial—a more driver-fo­cused ver­sion of the bog-stan­dard Car­rera.

The Car­rera’s 365hp 3.0-liter turbo flat-six drives the rear wheels through either a seven-speed PDK or a sev­en­speed man­ual. You should go for the lat­ter for three rea­sons: you get a me­chan­i­cal lim­ited-slip diff (miss­ing on the PDK), it has a shorter fi­naldrive ra­tio from the Car­rera S and a stub­bier gear­lever, and a man­ual just suits what this car’s try­ing to be so much bet­ter.

A sports ex­haust is stan­dard, along with PASM sport sus­pen­sion low­ered by 20mm and thin­ner glass from the GT2 RS for the rear win­dows and rear screen. Sound dead­en­ing has been “largely re­duced” and there are no rear seats and no ra­dio and no sat­nav (al­though you can add those things back in at no extra cost). You also get a Sport Chrono pack and fab­ric door

pulls. To­tal weight sav­ing? 5kg when the extra stan­dard kit is taken into ac­count.

The 0–100kph time drops by a tenth to 4.5sec (4.2sec with the PDK), and top speed is 293kph. This, you quickly re­al­ize, is plenty on tight and twisty moun­tain roads. Most of the time the T felt just as fast as the GT3, thanks to its more flex­i­ble tur­bocharged en­gine. Do not think the ba­sic 911 is some­how a com­pro­mise car for those that can’t af­ford the Car­rera S; it’s ac­tu­ally a sweet spot on pub­lic roads.

Sports ex­haust burp­ing and crack­ing away be­hind you, Sport mode en­gaged, sus­pen­sion in its softer set­ting and pad­dling the man­ual gear­box: this is a joy­ous ex­pe­ri­ence. Next to the GT3, it feels no­tice­ably nar­rower and more dainty… you’re not go­ing as quickly, but the steer­ing is crys­tal clear, the brakes nicely pro­gres­sive and you feel just as in­volved in the process. The down­side? This car is bril­liant be­cause the Car­rera it’s based on is al­ready bril­liant, not through any sin­gle piece of en­gi­neer­ing in­no­va­tion. It’s a bit of a mar­ket­ing-de­part­ment spe­cial.

Same can’t be said about the GT3. Yes, the changes are min­i­mal, but not only does it look cooler than its be­winged brother, it also as­sumes the role of a 911R for the masses. Con­trary to spec­u­la­tion, Porsche GT boss Pre­uninger says the Tour­ing wasn’t de­vised to give 911R spec­u­la­tors sweaty palms—the 911R was the guinea pig that proved there was a thirst for this kind of car; this is the more ‘af­ford­able’ re­sult.

Cling­ing on while this en­gine thrashes the fi­nal 1,000rpm and re­ally opens its pipes is some­thing we should all ex­pe­ri­ence once—like sky­div­ing or the Pam­plona bull run—but it’s the speed you can carry through the cor­ners, the crisp­ness of the steer­ing and how late you can stand on the brakes (de­spite our test car be­ing on steels not ce­ram­ics, for the full retro ef­fect) that stand out.

And a word for the six-speed gear­box (well done, GT de­part­ment, for re­fus­ing to move to seven gears), a pre­ci­sion tool that’s not only sat­is­fy­ing to flick around, but forces you to con­stantly as­sess where you are in the rev range, plan ahead, take part more than with the point-and-shoot PDK.

To name a win­ner here seems ob­tuse. Yes, the GT3 ex­ists on a higher plane, but if you’re un­likely to see a race­track, the softer Car­rera T is al­most as in­volv­ing… and you could buy a hot hatch with the change. Let’s just re­joice that as tech goes into hy­per­drive, mak­ers haven’t for­got­ten sim­ple plea­sures are of­ten the best. Bravo, Porsche, for lead­ing the way.

Car­rera T nav switched for dou­ble-deck Fruit Pastille holder

Badge and 20in wheels—sub­tle clues the GT3 T is the ul­ti­mate sleeper

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