CAPE TOWN – Lashing rain is transforming roads into rivers and snow is cloaking the mountain peaks. If Porsche required nature to add a little drama to a launch event, they're surely not disappointed. My left palm rests on the metal, manual gear lever linked to seven forward ratios. Clutch in, select first, revs up and clutch out. The six-cylinder snarl followed by a thump in the back confirms that this new 911 Carrera T, which promises to provide undiluted driving thrills, is ready to face the squall.
What's in the name?
The moniker dates back to 1968 when the original 911 T won several rallies, including the Monte Carlo event with British driver Vic Elford behind the wheel. The formula was simple: reduce mass, shorten the gearing and improve traction. This purist approach has been carried over to the modern version. The construction method, which includes the addition of lightweight side and rear windows, shaves some 20 kg off the weight of the standard Carrera before the optional deletion of rear seats and infotainment system. Furthermore, the final-drive ratio has been shortened in the manual car to make the most of the 272 kW (similar to Carrera spec) delivered to the rear axle with a limited-slip differential.
The driving experience
I select sport mode to activate the rev-matching feature while keeping the suspension setting in comfort in a bid to maximise grip on a soaking wet Franschhoek Pass. Even in these treacherous conditions, the “T” allows the driver to mine its dynamic abilities without too many skipped heartbeats. The joy of manual shifting brings a smile to my face, although be warned that selecting the seventh (overdrive) cog on your first attempt isn't easy as a slight dog-leg action is required.
The brilliant six-cylinder, turbo engine has no discernible lag and provides decent shove from low engine speeds. That's not to say it does not love spinning to over 7 000 r/min, with its classic racing soundtrack (chiefly courtesy of the sports exhaust) entering the cabin with minimum sound-deadening, especially when the rear pews have been deleted. Get carried away and the rear end breaks traction in a smooth and progressive fashion, requiring only a slight steering correction with stability control intervention before the onslaught can continue.
From the outside, the “Touring” is easily discernible by its new front spoiler, grey sport design mirrors, centrally mounted black-finished exhaust tips, "Carrera T" decals and those 20-inch Carrera S wheels. The PASM sports suspension lowers the car by 20 mm, but overall the look is intentionally understated.
Inside, further weight-saving is evident; for example, straps replace the door handles. The sports seats with Sport-Tex fabric are a nod to the past, while the seating position (as with all 911s) is brilliant, with the car appearing tiny from behind the steering wheel. This makes it easy to place on the road and not at all intimidating to drive, even in peak traffic. Saying that, with only 1 425 kg to propel, the car feels faster than its "entry-level" 911 status might suggest, with a claimed zero to 100 km/h time of 4,5 seconds (or 4,2 with PDK transmission).
Why you should buy it
A key to the attractiveness of this model is its pricing as most special versions of the 911 are prohibitively expensive. Think of the “T” as an affordable 911 R and you wouldn't be far off. It offers a pure and exhilarating driving experience at R1 536 000 and may just be a good investment as well. Go for the manual version and rear seat delete option to maximise the purist effect – you can thank us later.
Author: Nicol Louw