The 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T is as simple as 911s. And not in a “let’s strip all the carpeting” or “replace the door handles with cloth loops” kind of like something with an RS badging. For the T, Porsche simply took a base Carrera, removed some weight, included a handful of performance tweaks as standard equipment, and sent it on its way. Consider it more of a big upgrade than the regular Carrera, which comes in slightly better shape.
Wait, where does the Carrera T fit into the 911 lineup?
The 2023 Porsche 911 comes in seemingly endless flavors, and keeping them all in order can be a little tricky. Put simply, there are the 911 Carrera, Targa and Turbo models, with GT division cars like the 911 GT3 and GT2 RS and offshoots like the Dakar and Sport Classic all roaming in their own more specialized corners.
The Carrera range is the entry point for the 911 and is further broken down into the Carrera, Carrera T, Carrera S and Carrera GTS models, making the new Carrera T one of the most affordable 911s on the market. Prices for the 2023 Carrera T start at $118,050. For reference, a base Carrera starts at $107,550 and doesn’t include or offer some of the Carrera T’s better features. The T is priced below the 911 Carrera S at $124,450.
All Carrera models use 3.0-liter turbo engines, with S and GTS models making more than the base model but not quite as much as the 911 Turbo models. If you see a 4 next to the Carrera badge, it means the car has all-wheel drive.
What makes the Carrera T so special?
That all sounds like a lot, so think of the Carrera T as a Carrera-plus. Improved but not completely changed. As with the base Carrera, the Carrera T’s rear-mounted turbocharged flat-six engine produces 379 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed manual (not available on the base Carrera) is standard; Porsche’s excellent PDK eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is a no-cost option. The Carrera T is only available as a coupé and not with all-wheel drive.
Thanks to the standard sports suspension, the Carrera T is ten millimeters lower than the base vehicle. In addition, Porsche has the extensive Sport Chrono package. In addition to a dash-mounted chronograph, the Sport Chrono Package adds a driving mode dial on the steering wheel, sport-tuned stability control, active powertrain mounts and tire temperature gauges. On vehicles equipped with PDK, the Carrera T also has a launch control function. The mechanical locking differential with torque vectoring from the 911 Carrera S is also included in the T; like the manual gearbox, this is not available at all with the basic 911. Rear-axle steering — also not available on the base 911 — is a $2,090 option. Other standard equipment includes a sports exhaust system and offset 20-inch front and 21-inch wheels from the Carrera S.
But we’re not done yet. To save weight, the Carrera T does not have a rear seat. If you’ve ever stuck your head in the trunk of a 911, you know how little loss that really is. The lack of a rear seat, combined with reduced soundproofing, a smaller battery and thinner glass for the windows, contribute to the Carrera T being the lightest 911 outside of GT cars. There’s a small parcel shelf that can be used for storage, although Porsche offers a free rear seat. Still, we think you should skip it. It’s tiny, and the less between your ears and the Carrera T’s exhaust noise the better.
Driving the Carrera T in its natural element
After an afternoon of canyon roads in the mountains north of downtown Los Angeles, there was a nagging thought: Do you really need more than this? The Carrera T feels nimble and composed, but not fundamentally different from other Carrera models. That’s hardly a bad thing. In general, the 911 is unparalleled in terms of driving dynamics.
The Carrera T’s steering is responsive and offers more feedback than you’ll find on pretty much any other sports car on the road today. While it’s not the smoothest steering we’ve experienced on a sports car, it’s direct and always lets you know what the front tires are up to. Putting the car into a corner is easy, and the adaptive sports suspension keeps the Carrera T planted. The ride is firm, but there’s still enough give to keep your back from breaking. The available rear axle steering can add to high-speed stability and low-speed maneuverability, but you don’t need it to have a good time.
Even if it’s the basic engine, there’s plenty of power under the tailgate, and on the road you don’t feel let down compared to the more powerful 911 models. In fact, the Carrera T might be more driveable around town since you don’t have to be as careful with your right foot. However, you might feel differently on a racetrack, where the extra power makes a real difference.
Step on the gas and the engine just sings. The gearing is a bit high, but the powerband is wide enough that the flat-six feels responsive at any rpm. The seven-speed manual transmission is simple and precise, and Sport mode hits the throttle for rev-matched downshifts. If you’d rather turn off the rev-match, the pedals are well-placed for clean heel-toe downshifts.
Porsche has been building the 911 for decades, and anyone who says the rear engine is in the wrong place has never driven a modern Carrera. The weight balance is great for traction out of corners. Tune in and you can feel the back squat and bend down. The steering, unencumbered by a slug of metal hanging over the front axle, is able to transfer feedback without being overly heavy. There’s no sudden oversteer or weird twitches, just stability and momentum.
There’s plenty of stopping power with a nice, firm pedal that’s easy to modulate. The brakes warmed up during our ride, but we didn’t notice any let-up on the road. Notably, Porsche won’t be offering its carbon-ceramic brakes on the Carrera T, although they’re available on the base Carrera. Apparently, the acceptance rate for the last Carrera T was quite low. Frankly, they’re overkill for anything but heavy track use. Save the money and buy a few sets of good tires.