At the end of the day, whether it’s a press car or a personal one, I hand the keys back and say adios, happy to get back into my own car. A few weeks later, a review magically appears here, where I stand in judgement of that car’s virtues and vices. Sometimes you agree with me, and sometimes….you do not. That’s good, it means I’m doing something right. So when someone reached out and said I was wrong about the 911 T – that is really is a great sports car if you try it with a manual, I said prove it.
So here we are.
Now, it’s judgement day. Is the Porsche 911 T really better when you row your own?
The 2019 Porsche 911 T Manual Overview
You probably already know the answer, but I think there are a few things we need to talk about first. This really is a different car than the PDK version.
Aside from a seven-speed manual, this 911 had basic front cloth buckets and a back seat you can actually use. Yes, it’s still minimalist inside, and it’s still expensive, but the manual provides a real reason to choose it over a 4S or whatever other 911 acronym you want to buy.
What’s your alternative? A GT3? You can almost purchase two of these for one of those. Yes, yes – naturally aspirated to this turbo and whatever else we enthusiasts are suppose to shout about from the roof tops. But this 911, ahem, ain’t no slouch.
No need to repeat what’s already been said, so let’s focus on the bits that matter here.
Performance Score: 8. Lucky number 7
Most of this car is very similar to the PDK version, and the engine is still a gem. Selecting the manual means you lose 2 tenths of a second to sixty, which is a small price to pay for the joys of feeling that perfect shifter.
Still, it’s a cheaper 911, so we get the base 370-hp motor, not the 420 from the Carrera S, and for $120,000 bananas, I think I’d like a little more oomph, because that M2 is coming up fast behind you and you don’t need to see that backwards-wearing hat bro again. Or, might as well make it breathe on its own and let us enjoy the aural experience, which here was minus the wonderful AWE pipes from Jayson’s T. I missed them.
Let’s talk about the main difference though. It’s Porsche’s weird seven-speed manual, so you don’t even lose a gear to the PDK. The shifter itself is from the heavens, as good as what’s installed in the 718 GT4. Grabbing the big ball shifter is so satisfying, and the throws so short, I found myself almost double-clutching for the hell of it. Clutch takeup is also perfect. If I were BMW, I’d take this car apart piece by piece and figure out why they can make a manual that’s so good. Oh right, BMW doesn’t care.
Despite the extra gear, the manual still spins a little high in seventh. I get it, the G8X does it too – in order to avoid the dreaded feeling of turbo lag, the gearing is adjusted to keep the engine in caffeine-addiction territory all the time. But I like shifting, no, I love shifting this thing, so please give us a real overdrive gear. And do I pick fifth? Sixth? Fourth, for that turn up ahead?
I think you know it’s good when I’m mentioning a too-short overdrive gear as the only complaint.
Chassis and steering
This 911 T is not the lightest 911 you can buy. It’s 44 pounds heavier because it adds a back seat and subtracts the carbon buckets. But like that 0.2 seconds, you won’t notice it – how could you?
Everything else is identical to the PDK – the over-eager rear end. The perfect steering.
It’s hard for me to fall in love with this car, despite its near telepathic connection. It feels like an in-between 911, which is exactly how it’s priced. However, selecting the manual gives you something you cannot get in any other 911 save for the GT3.
Utility Score: 7. Now I get it
I wrote a piece about the “super street car” recently, and the 911 T is a poster child for the breed. Do we want to go fast and handle well? *nods*. Then I suppose we should make our car as small and light as possible. *Begins to convulse* So why would we need a back seat? *head explodes*
Look, you’re not fooling anyone by deleting the back seats, and in a 911 they are at least somewhat useful, as Matt demonstrates here by putting two baby seats in the car (bravo). When you take those seats out, the space they occupy is still there, meaning you still carry the size penalty.
Order yours this way – keep the back seat. It means the T badge on the rear hatch (actually, there’s nothing there) also stands for True.
Fuel Economy: 6. Worth it
Selecting the manual means you lose 3 miles per gallon, and that’s not an insignificant number the way gas prices are going. But this likely isn’t your only car.
This is the 991 generation of the 911, and that included something called the 911 R. It’s pretty much a GT3 in regular 911 clothes (though the GT3 wasn’t available with a stick in 2016). Anyway, that 911 R makes more power than this T, and weighs about 200 pounds less. Redline is much higher too. Fuel economy is almost identical.
Point here is, Porsche can make a nice naturally aspirated 911 (that shouldn’t cost as much as a house), and their EPA rating as a whole would not go down. I suppose we should be grateful the manual was brought down to plebe level at all.
Speaking of, the manual was about $3,000 cheaper than the PDK. But the secret is out, and I see manuals going for about $8,000 more. You had your chance in 2019.
FEATURES AND COMFORT: 6. I’m old and I don’t care
Aside from the back seat, this 911 comes with something even better – standard bucket seats. As drivers, we touch the steering wheel, shifter, and seat the most. It’s how we interact with the car. So if it’s uncomfortable, you can’t focus on driving fast, or even just driving.
“My body, my choice”, or whatever. Well, it’s my body. I’m 6’1, I like pasta a lot, and I can bench press your house, so no, my thighs of thunder do not like to be squished together in a tiny tub made from thousands of strands of glued together fibers that are as forgiving as an Italian mom when you come home past curfew.
If you like the fixed-back carbon buckets (which are only available on more expensive 911s, the T is special), then by all means, save the 40 odd pounds from your lighter wallet, because the seats were a $5,200 option.
As a final mic drop, the cloth with yellow stitching looks bitchin’. Don’t tell anyone, and they will be none the wiser that these were the free seats.
The 911 T Manual is the best option for a select few
But oddly, I am one of them. That 30-40 age group with small kids. Maybe you have a third car (or this is your third car), but this 911 T can handle lightweight family duty even as a daily.
It’s much, much more raw than an M4, the only other modern German car with a manual and more than two seats. It’s also a better driver’s car than those basic 911s, which I find to be more and more like regular traffic. Even older things like an E46 M3 are approaching the cost of this 911, so if you want a pure driving experience with a manual and a back seat, options are dwindling.
I can’t imagine not being able to take my daughter with me on trips. She loves car rides. So this 911 T passes the family check. But if you don’t have a young family, say it’s just you and your sweetie, then I’d go for a two-seater, or save up and treat yo’self to a GT3.
Anyone else care to disagree?
Thanks to Matt for sharing his beautiful 911 T!
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