2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive review: the way forward for a classic

The scene in the rearview mirror of the 2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T is remarkably clear. It’s all high-definition vineyards and crystal-clear coastline, for as long as I dare look back.

Why it’s so clear: Engineers fitted thinner rear and side windows that are not only 6 pounds lighter, but also skip a defroster and the unforgivable clutter of those thin hot wires.

The road winds through Napa Valley, and it’s one of its good days (Editor's note: Are there bad days in Napa?), when the trees and rows of chardonnay grapes individually glint, fresh from a morning mist. The ribbon of road disappears into itself in a never-ending series of turns that vault California Highway 128 into its own destination. It’s not just another road.

I couldn’t care less.

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The Carrera T is about the road ahead, and not what’s behind.

If the Porsche 911 is the everyday supercar, the 911 T is the occasional supercar—as in, each time behind the wheel is an occasion.

The configurator build is saved, labeled conveniently “In case of lottery win, buy everything in this file.” Code PK2LJRI9.

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive

Winning hand

At $112,990, it’s hardly a deal. I’ve stacked my “purist” Porsche spec deck with all aces: slick top, badge delete, gray Carrera Sport wheels, and also sport buckets borrowed from the GT2 RS that are reassuring and restricting like a weighted blanket during a thunderstorm.

The vestigial rear seats from the Carrera are gone in my dreams, replaced with a vestigial shelf in the Carrera T that’ll get used less than the radio.

About that radio: It had to stay, but not by Porsche’s diktat. In some parts the world, the 911 Carrera T can shed radio sound, but in the States it’s a must from the factory: rearview cameras are standard.

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The Carrera T name traces its roots back to 1968, but my modern indulgence is Porsche’s PDK 7-speed automatic that’s preternaturally quick and smooth. It’s partly how the 2018 911 Carrera T charges up to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds (4.3 with the 7-speed manual) and blitzes a quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds (12.7 with the manual).

Admittedly, the PDK skips the 911 T’s notable differences from some 911s. The Carrera T #GiveAShift edition gets a shorter constant transaxle ratio (not final drive), a mechanically locking rear differential, and Porsche Torque Vectoring taken from the Carrera S, while the PDK makes do with the same automatic from the Carrera.

I don’t mind at all.

The PDK dashes through all seven of its ratios like a greatest hits album and goes back again at your whim. Can we hear third gear again?

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive

2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T first drive

The 7-speed manual isn’t much different than the PDK—even with identical ratios—but a has a slightly shorter final drive. We didn’t sample a manual-equipped Carrera T, but we imagine it’s just like the PDK but burns more calories.

Dialing the Porsche PDK sport selector knob to Sport+ and pushing the center button for maximum attack has all the subtlety of pole dancing in church with just as much entertainment.

The sounds that fill the two-seat cabin are raw, visceral, and immediate thanks to less sound-deadening material in the Carrera T.

All told, the Carrera T weighs 11 pounds less than the standard Carrera. That’s a measly 0.3 percent lighter, mathed from the Carrera’s T 3,142-pound mass, but with 6 pounds less glass and presumably 5 pounds cut from sound-deadening, it’s a scalpel taken to the 911’s clothing in all the right places. Imagination can finish my analogy for me, I presume.

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