The Porsche 911 is a great sports car.
Along with the BMW 5 Series, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf, it can lay claim to one of the longest continuously used badges in automotive history, with the 911 in production since the early 1960s. In comparison, something like the Audi R8 is positively a spring chicken, only having made its debut in 2006.
Of course, back then, buying a 911 was a far simpler affair. When the 911 first went on sale in 1964, there was only one bodystyle and one engine option (a hard-top coupe and a 2-litre flat-six engine respectively) on offer to potential customers.
In 2018, however, Porsche now offers the 911 in three bodystyles (hard-top coupe, soft-top Cabriolet and semi-convertible Targa), with four engine options for a total of 24 variants.
And if you thought that was confusing, you haven’t yet gotten to the part where you kit out your new Porsche. There, you’ll have to decide if you want (or not) coloured slats for the air conditioning vents, the Porsche crest embossed on the headrests, body-coloured headlight washer nozzles or a rear windscreen wiper.
Which is why the only proper response to someone asking you which 911 they should get is “how much can you afford?”
Of course, if money wasn’t an object, we’d go straight for the 911 GT3, which we contend is God’s own gift to the automotive world. May he (or she, for that matter) bless you and keep you, Weissach.
Anyway, not everyone has around $750,000 to spend on a sports car, mind-blowing though said sports car might be. But Porsche now offers a new 911 variant, one which it hopes will approximate the GT3 experience, for some $200,000 less.
That new variant is the 911T, and on the surface of things, it seems to fulfil that brief. Like the GT3, it has reduced sound insulation, some windows are made of lightweight glass and the interior door handles are now fabric straps.
You can also choose to leave out the air conditioning and stereo, though if you did that, we’d have to seriously question your ability for rational judgment.
Anyway, local cars come standard with the last two items (phew), which brings the ‘lightweight’ 911T’s total weight to 1,520kg… or just 5kg less than a comparable 911 Carrera.
But what about the drive? Porsche does after all say that the 911T is “made for drivers”.
Again, the spec sheet does its best to impress. Honking great 20-inch alloys from the mid-range Carrera S are standard, as is 10mm lower adaptive suspension, trick rear differential and a sports exhaust. Four-wheel-steering—hitherto only available on range-topping Turbo and GT models—with the promise of greater agility when cornering and greater high speed, straight-line stability is optional.
So on paper, the 911T should look the part, sound the part and go the part—a clear winner over the entry-level 911 Carrera.
The reality, well, is like the 911T’s kerb weight, in that it’s a little hard to perceive. In theory, the torque-vectoring rear differential, uprated suspension and wider rubber should allow the 911T to corner harder than regular 911s, but to test that out you’d need a race track and specialised telemetry equipment.
Its 3-litre turbocharged flat-six engine develops the same 370hp as standard 911 Carreras, with the 0-100km/h dash completed in an identical 4.2 seconds.
Yes, we’re aware this sounds like a slight on the 911T, like do we really need yet another 911 variant, and there certainly is an argument to be made there. Stripped bare of marketing guff, the 911T is essentially a base model 911 Carrera with some choice (read: the enthusiast-oriented bits any right-thinking person should have on their 911 anyway) specced as standard.
Cynicism aside, however, the 911T is brilliant. Then again, so is any other modern 911. The 911 has, for two decades now since the 996-generation car burst onto the scene in 1998, been the holy grail of sports cars. It successfully marries big GT car cruising composure and yet, somehow still remains entertaining when the road gets twisty.
But is it worth the $45,000 Porsche is asking over standard 911s for what is essentially an options pack?
Ordinarily, we’d have to say no, but then worth and value are, like modern 911s, complicated things.
On the value front, the 911T is absolutely worth every penny. Model-specific cues with decals on its flanks and a blacked-out badge on its rear decklid mark its owner out as someone who is a keen driver, and most importantly, one who didn’t cheap out on a base model 911.
ENGINE 2,981cc, 24-valves, flat-six, turbocharged
POWER 370hp at 6,500rpm
TORQUE 450Nm at 1,700-5,000rpm
0-100KM/HR 4.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 291km/hr
TRANSMISSION Seven-speed dual-clutch
FUEL CONSUMPTION 8.5L/100km
VES BAND C1 ($10,000 surcharge)
PRICE S$500,888 (excluding COE, excluding options)