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2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T profile

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T First Drive: It's Not Always About Horsepower

All fun, no fuss

  • The Carrera T is a simplified, performance-oriented 911.
  • Sport suspension and rear-seat delete are standard features.
  • Power comes from the base 911 Carrera's 3.0-liter engine.

The 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T is just about as simple as 911s get. And not in a "let's strip all the carpeting out" or "replace the door handles with fabric loops" sort of way like something with an RS badge. 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. Rather than a major upgrade, think of it as the regular Carrera getting in slightly better shape.

2023 porsche 911 carrera t rear

Wait, so where does the Carrera T fit in the 911 lineup?

The 2023 Porsche 911 comes in a seemingly endless amount of flavors, and it can be a little complicated to keep them all straight. In simplified terms, there are 911 Carrera, Targa and Turbo models, with the GT-division cars like the 911 GT3 and GT2 RS, and offshoots like the Dakar and Sport Classic, all off in their own more specialized corners.

The Carrera lineup is the entry point to the 911 and is further broken up into Carrera, Carrera T, Carrera S and Carrera GTS models, making the new Carrera T one of the least expensive 911s available. Pricing for the 2023 Carrera T starts at $118,050. For reference, a base Carrera starts at $107,550 and doesn't include or even offer some of the Carrera T's better features. The T's price slots it below the $124,450 911 Carrera S.

2023 porsche 911 carrera t wheel

All Carrera models use 3.0-liter turbocharged 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 that car has all-wheel drive.

What makes the Carrera T special?

That all sounds like a lot, so think of the Carrera T as a Carrera-plus. Enhanced but not wholly changed. Like the base Carrera, the Carrera T's rear-mounted turbocharged flat-six engine makes 379 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed manual transmission (unavailable 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 coupe and is not available with all-wheel drive.

2023 porsche 911 carrera t profile

The Carrera T sits 10 millimeters lower than the base car thanks to its standard sport suspension. Porsche also includes the wide-ranging Sport Chrono package. In addition to a neat chronograph mounted on the dash, the Sport Chrono package adds a drive mode dial to the steering wheel, a sport-tuned stability control setting, active driveline mounts and tire temperature readouts. On PDK-equipped cars, the Carrera T also has a launch control feature. The mechanical limited-slip differential with torque vectoring from the 911 Carrera S is also included on the T; like the manual transmission, this can't be had at all on the base 911. Rear-axle steering — again unavailable on the base 911 — is a $2,090 option. Other standard features include a sport exhaust system and staggered 20-inch front and 21-inch wheels from the Carrera S.

2023 porsche 911 carrera t rear seat

But we're not done. In order to save weight, the Carrera T doesn't come with a rear seat. If you've ever poked your head in the back of a 911, you'll know just how little of a loss this really is. The lack of a rear seat, combined with reduced sound deadening, a smaller battery and thinner glass for the windows, helps make the Carrera T the lightest 911 outside of the GT cars. There's a small parcel shelf that can be used for storage, though Porsche does offer a rear seat at no cost. Still, we think you should skip it. It's tiny, and the less between your ears and the Carrera T's exhaust note, the better.

2023 porsche 911 carrera t front interior

Driving the Carrera T in its natural element

After an afternoon on canyon roads in the mountains north of downtown Los Angeles, there was one persistent thought: Do you really need anything more than this? The Carrera T feels nimble and composed but not fundamentally different from other Carrera models. That's hardly a bad thing. The 911 in general has few equals when it comes to driving dynamics.

The Carrera T's steering is responsive and offers more feedback than you'll find on just about any other sports car on the road today. While it's not the most supple steering we've felt on a sports car, it's direct and always lets you know what the front tires are up to. It's easy to place the car in a corner, and the adaptive sport suspension keeps the Carrera T planted. The ride is firm, but there's still enough compliance that your back won't break. The available rear-axle steering can help high-speed stability and low-speed maneuverability, but you don't need it to have a good time.

Even though this is the base engine, there's plenty of power under the rear lid, and on the street you don't feel like you're at a deficiency compared to the more potent 911 models. In fact, the Carrera T might be more drivable around town since you don't have to be so careful with your right foot. You might feel differently on a racetrack, however, where the extra power will make a real difference.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T interior detail

Nail the gas and the engine just sings. The gearing is a bit tall, but the powerband is so wide that the flat-six feels responsive at any rev. The seven-speed manual is easy and precise, and Sport mode will blip the throttle for rev-matched downshifts. If you prefer to turn off the rev matching, the pedals are well placed for clean heel-toe downshifts.

Porsche has been building the 911 for decades, and anyone who says that the rear-mounted engine is in the wrong place has never been behind the wheel of a modern Carrera. The weight balance is great for traction out of corners. Power on and you can feel the rear squat and hunch down. The steering, unburdened by a lump of metal over the front axle, can translate feedback without being overly heavy. There's no snap oversteer or odd twitchiness, just stability and verve.

There's plenty of braking power, with a nice, firm pedal that's easy to modulate. The brakes got warm on our drive, but we didn't experience any fade on the street. Notably, Porsche will not offer its carbon-ceramic brakes on the Carrera T, though they are available on the base Carrera. The take rate on the last Carrera T was apparently quite low. Honestly, they're overkill for anything but heavy track duty. Save the cash and buy a few sets of good tires.

2023 porsche 911 carrera t rear

Edmunds says

The last 911 Carrera T proved so successful that Porsche has applied the same formula to other models like the Macan T and 718 Cayman and Boxster T. The Carrera T isn't the fastest or most powerful 911 on sale, but it offers a stripped-down and pure 911 experience at a much easier to swallow price than some more powerful models.