SINGAPORE (Dec 3): If you have two bored children in a car, it is sometimes fun to play the “sports car game”. You get anything from one to 10 points if you are the first to see a sports car. One point is for a car such as an Audi TT or a Porsche 911. And 10 points is for an Audi R8, Lamborghini, MacLaren or Ferrari. So, why do my sons give only one point for a Porsche 911? The reason is there are just so many on Singapore’s roads, you would have 100 points and win in no time. This iconic car has been around for more than five decades and there are more than 20 variants currently available.
Yes, you read that correctly. That’s a lot of different Porsche 911s on our roads, including the Carrera, Targa, Turbo and GT3. The latest addition to the impressive range is the Carrera T, which I had at my disposal for 24 hours recently. I am a huge admirer of the classic 911 design and find it amazing that the same car has been around since the 1960s, albeit with some significant facelifts along the way.
This new 911 Carrera T (the T stands for Touring) slots between the basic Carrera and the Carrera S in the current line-up. The T editions are very popular and represent the sports car in its purest, most dynamic form. For example, this version comes with thinner glass for the windscreen and windows to make the car lighter, and strips of fabric instead of door handles. I am not quite sure how much weight you save by getting rid of the door handles, but the fabric strips are novel, if nothing else.
The stripped-down Carrera T is now 20kg lighter, but you may not notice that, especially if you are on the heavy side yourself. One thing you may notice, however, is the noise. The noise reduction insulation has also been minimised to save weight and this means you can now hear a lot more. This includes the car’s throaty growl when you fire up the ignition. This can be enhanced by just pushing a button. But it is not just the car’s noise that is louder; the surrounding environment also feels louder.
Porsche’s T editions are very popular and represent the sports car in its purest, most dynamic form. This version comes with thinner glass for the windscreen and windows and strips of fabric instead of door handles.
One of my strongest memories of the test drive was the frequent sound of loose tarmac being spat out by the car’s wheel arches. They just don’t make roads like they used to. But it did highlight the raw power and speed of this new model. A sports chassis comes as standard issue, which lowers the car by 20mm. While again this may not be noticeable, what you will definitely appreciate is the transmission. The seven-speed gearbox is a dream to drive and shifts up and down with ease.
In the back of the car (remember, 911s have the engine in the boot, not the front) sits a 3.0-litre turbocharged engine. It roars into life immediately and this raw power never really leaves you while driving. The test-drive conditions were wet and slippery, but the handling was immaculate and I always felt in complete control, even when the speed hit 100kph. The car will reach this speed in just over four seconds. Thanks to chunky, 20in tyres, you always feel firmly planted and stable on the road at any speed.
My test-drive model was bright yellow and came with a retractable spoiler at the back, which I kept permanently up. I wanted the whole experience to look, feel and sound sporty. When you see so many Porsche 911s on the road, the danger is you become a little blasé about them, taking them for granted and not really appreciating their sports car status. But when you get behind the wheel, you are quickly reminded this is a high-performance sports car that demands respect. At the same time, there is absolutely no compromise when it comes to comfort and luxury. After all, this is a car that costs more than half a million bucks and you would want more than just a sporty drive for your money.
And you definitely get it. While straps instead of door handles hardly shout out premium and luxury, there are plenty of plush features and touches. Take the matching yellow stitching across the dashboard and leather seats, for example. The touchscreen is very easy to use and looks very expensive. The sound system rocks your core, much like the sound of the engine behind you. In fact, the whole cabin has a cosy-yet-premium feel about it, with high-end materials wherever the eye can see.
When you have more than 20 variants of the 911 to choose from, each new one must offer something not available in all the others. The only way for me to find that “something” is to slowly make my way through the whole range. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
Porsche 911 Carrera T
$500,888 excluding COE
Engine: 2,981cc, six-cylinder, turbocharged
Fuel consumption: 8.5l/100km
0 to 100kph: 4.2 seconds
Top speed: 291kph
Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast.
This article appeared in Issue 859 (Dec 3) of The Edge Singapore.