You’ve just sat down to read my first official 911 review on this site. “Ahh, yes, finally, the ultimate of German cars! Automatic Soul Score of 10!”, is perhaps your internal dialogue. After all, the 718 and Turbo GT are both perfect scorers, surely this 911 T will blow up the board. But let me start this review with a warning: I give no free passes because of the badge on the back. This 911 is going to have to work very hard to impress me.
The 2019 Porsche 911 T Overview
“Umm, it’s Porsch-uhhh”, they tell me, in their high and mighty tone of voice. Fine. I suppose if someone called it an UUMMM 3, we Bimmer faithful would poke fun too.
Then there are the versions. 997. 991. 991.2. Plus the variants on those generations. Carrera. 4S. Turbo. GT3. It’s as if Xzibit himself heard “You like versions!”. But they all mean something different, and this example is a 911 T, or “Touring”. It’s a name from 911s of yore, and it stands for lightweight.
By now you know that every modern 911 aside from the GT3 is turbocharged, and the T brings with it a 370-hp twin-turbocharged flat-six, the adaptive suspension (PASM Sport in serious German tone) from the Carrera GTS, a Sport Exhaust system with black tips, a shorter 3.59:1 final-drive ratio, a lighter version of the 911’s Sport Chrono package, lighter glass in the rear window, and the removal of almost any luxury in the cabin.
That’s a lot of stuff added, and a lot taken out. Does it make for a better 911?
Performance Score: 9. Porsche Pull
It’s difficult to not have fun in this car. The T is well-balanced, fast (but not FAST), and sounds terrific. yet with so many flavors available, this 911 finds itself in a spot in the lineup where it’s doing everything well but nothing spectacularly.
This is a deceptively fast car. While down a significant amount of power from BMW’s S58 (over 100 horses), this 911 is as fast as an M4 Competition in a straight line thanks to Porsche’s weight management on the T.
The 3.0 liter flat-six has torque available from just off the line at 1,700 RPM, but maximum power is at a lofty 6,500, so it loves to rev. Porsche knew what they were doing when they tuned this engine. There’s a bit of a drop off in the tach’s mid-range, but it’s not anything that will spoil your fun. You want to wring it out each time. Be that person that blows everyone away from a red light. It’s fine, the color and sound mean they already assume you’re that guy.
And nothing sounds like the Porsche (uhhh) flat-six in a 911, not even in the 718. But to really let it sing, you must add an exhaust, as this owner did (AWE, same as the M3). It’s worth it, because revving this motor out to redline stirs your soul. The turbos even give a fun whistle.
Still, adding turbos means something is missing: the GT3’s engine.
They can put this transmission in anything (they pretty much do), and it’ll work brilliantly. Porsche makes the best manuals on the market, so it’s hard to pass up the admittedly odd seven speed option, but this PDK brings smiles in a different way. Place the 911 T in “Sport” mode and pull back on the column-mounted paddles for a satisfying brap and instant gear change.
I wish I knew how they do it. Imagine being inside a Rolex wrist watch, with all its finally-tunes gears, and the idea starts to form. Some cars, like the SL from last week, don’t make you feel like part of the experience, but this 911 does.
Steering and Chassis
Permit an anecdote here. Upon arriving at Pocono Raceway of my very first HPDE event in my then new E92, my instructor asked if I had considered any other cars. When I told him a 911 4S (used), he shook his head and told me I made the right choice. The M3 has the engine in the correct spot, or at least, a better one.
To combat all the facts that physics is dying to make for you, Porsche fits modern 911s with many systems to ensure you remain nose-first down the road. The adjustable suspension here is much firmer than in a basic 911, providing a more raw (and sometimes rough) experience. It’s not a car you would want to daily every day unless you like your hair pulled.
I’d be afraid to turn off the traction control completely – it’s excellent in that it allows you to get the rear end a bit loose. But the front end gets lighter and the rear eager to take over on some stretches of road (think big dips or off-camber turns). I could never get entirely comfortable.
This is the lightest 911 you could buy in 2019, coming in at 3,290 pounds. The T gives you lighter rear glass, no back seats, less sound insulation, even door pulls instead of handles to keep the weight down, and it’s nice to be inside such a modern machine that is so responsive and dynamic.
Again typical of Porsche, the steering is perfect. What can be said that I have not mentioned already? Put it in this or a 5,000-pound super truck, and it feels weighted and responsive regardless. If I were BMW, I would buy a few of these and stash them in Munich to dissect for study.
Because of the rear-engine chassis set up, you get 13-inch vented and cross-drilled brakes all around. Like any modern braking system in a sports car, they work well, with no discernible fade. But the pedal feel is the differentiator. It’s responsive the instant you press down, without any dead spots as you push harder. The 911 T needs brakes like this to give you confidence because the capability is there to really do some damage.
Despite all of this wonderful feel, I can’t help but think about that GT4. Because it wasn’t turbocharged and thus slower (and had the engine in the right place), it felt like a better overall experience. You had to push that thing to make it go, and it lets you savor more. The manual transmission helped to slow things down as well.
This 911 T is no slouch in the drive experience, being much more engaging than say, a Corvette. But you pay for it in refinement and finish, and though it costs significantly more, a GT3 driving by may just cause you to say “I wish…”
Utility: 4. Room for two
Back seats are another 911 tradition, which means that even when Porsche takes them out, there’s still, you know, room for them.
You can throw stuff back there, but I lament the loss of them because it means your kids can’t come with. What’s the point? Might as well make it a true two-seater without the penalty of weight. That means we’re back on the 718. Or get a regular Carrera and let everyone enjoy.
Elsewhere you have a frunk which can hold more than the SL’s rear trunk, so it’ll hold your racing helmet (or groceries if you’re one of those cool dads). Sit inside and be comfortable, although these carbon buckets are hard core to get in and out of. As always, try before you buy. Do they work though, because this 911 T can pull some serious Gs and the bolsters hold you in place.
Perhaps the automotive world is simply telling me I need to lose 20 pounds.
Fuel economy: 7. PD oK
A minor benefit of choosing the PDK is the +1 MPG rating, up to 26 combined. It’ll likely be more because you won’t ALWAYS be in attack mode with the PDK, whereas the manual encourages you to blip and rev.
Let’s also take a moment to make an observation. We’re so worried about saving gas and economy, yet cars get heavier all the time. An i4 is nearly 2,000 pounds heavier than this 911 T despite being roughly the same size. You want to save the world? Well then, your car can’t be as quiet because sound deadening is heavy.
Perhaps car companies should worry more about optimizing chassis and cutting weight instead of lazily using the same platform for cars that should have nothing in common aside from badging. /rant.
FEATURES AND COMFORT: 4. Poor man’s rich Porsche
Cars are costumes. In owning an M3, I’m letting you know I’m ’bout dat motorsport life. I could bust out a 10-second quarter mile at any moment, be prepared. Really, it’s to be cool. Did I fool you all this time?
This 911 T takes it further by deleting a lot of content. Despite what the big magazines and auto makers tell you, I do not think removing door handles and arm rests makes a car faster (or better). But they do make you cooler to the dudes at Cars and Coffee.
At least Porsche left the arm rest this time.
Any Porsche is a bit minimal inside, with its serious all black interior and squared off layout, but the T takes it further. As you lower your butt inside, you first notice a broad dashboard with many real dials (and one digital one). This looks remarkably like older versions, and the lack of fancy can be good or bad, depending on your expectations.
You do get power windows and a small infotainment system, but there isn’t much padding or softness to anything you touch. Are these the doors off a Corolla? Look, I get it, light weight, rawness, emotion. And if you plan on tracking a 911, this is definitely the one you want. But that base Macan had the same fit and finish for half the price, and I don’t see a “light weight” label on that spec sheet.
“Ah, Mike, you’re complaining about a car being loud?!” Fair enough, but not every 911 sound is a pleasing one. I do not need to hear the cacophony of rocks hitting the underbelly.
For this reduction, Porsche charges…more? Of course they do, it’s Porsche. BMW and Mercedes do the same thing, because you’re buying cool, and cool is expensive. But man, can it be just a bit quieter in here?
I must confess to this: I have no idea what 911 I’m looking at from just the outside. Perhaps that’s the point – no two are alike.
This 911 T brings with it some beautiful Lava Orange paint that really does change color in different lighting conditions. You also get door decals that are your only clue as to the unique nature of this 911, especially if you choose to debadge yours. Black exhaust tips are another touch, and thankfully AWE lets you keep them. Of course you get a spoiler that pops up at speed, though I do love a good whale tail (not the thong kind).
The overall effect is fine – if you like how a 991 911 looks, you’ll like this 911. If not, the T does nothing to convince you otherwise. Only “in-the-know” people can tell the difference.
The Porsche 911 T is the perfect track day tool, but not the perfect 911
Context is so important. Can you imagine if BMW came out with a car like this? We’d be going nuts. “Old BMW is back!” Alas, this is a Porsche.
And there is a lot to like here. Few cars allow you to experience driving in such an unfiltered way, especially in a modern machine. But I can’t shake that blind date feeling. You know – “They’re perfect for you!”, but after five minutes you can tell there’s just something missing.
Well, everyone, including the media, tells me I’m supposed to love this 911. Isn’t it what we all want? Just look at it! But I don’t know if you need to spend nearly $130,000 to get what the T is trying to push. Now that this 991 is a few years old, picking one up used makes more sense. Porsche does make a 2023 with a similar formula, and I can’t help but feel like they are cutting the pie too thin.
Get the T because you’ve always wanted a 911 and you plan on tracking or leaving it as a weekend toy. Just close your eyes as you walk by the GT4 at the dealership.
Thanks to Jayson for sharing his beautiful 911!
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