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2018 Porsche 991 911 Carrera T

For a long time the 911 Carrera feels like a car you settle for. Between 8 different variations and the unsubtle powertrain tier, those Carreras sitting at the top of the Porsche website appear plebian in contrast to the more distinct models further down the line. The Turbo, GT3, and GT2 RS each possess a definitive purpose in the 911 family. All except for the GTS now that the GT3 comes with a manual. The Carrera has neither the power nor prestige to match the more expensive 911s, so we can say its purpose is to just be the cheapest 911 you can buy because you couldn't find another $40,000 to play in the big league.

With the 911 Carrera T, Porsche is putting the 911 at a new low. Not in power or cost, mind you. It's simply the lightest Carrera currently offered today. To do so, Porsche took out the door handles and replaced them with fabric loops. The three rear windows are now made from lighter glass. There's less sound insulation in the cabin. A 6-speed manual is standard. The central touchscreen has been removed in European models. And it's only offered in rear-wheel drive.

In its most simple configuration the 911 Carrera T curb weight settles at 3,142 lbs (1425 kg). 11 lbs shy of the base 911 Carrera. If you row your own gears zero-to-60 mph takes 4.3 seconds before achieving a 182 mph top speed. Optioning the Carrera T with PDK adds 44 lbs but drops the zero-to-60 mph launch to 4.0 seconds (With Sport Chrono pack) and reduces top speed to a mere 180 mph. Normal Carrera models accelerate to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds though PDK acceleration is unchanged. Power originates from a twin turbo 3.0-liter flat-six engine generating 370-horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque.

Porsche includes several previously optional features for the Carrera T package including black colored front spoiler lip, Sport Exhaust, and 20-inch Carrera S wheels bearing 245/35 ZR20 with 305/30 ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires. Spectators can recognize a Carrera T by the Agate Grey colored stripe on the side in addition to grey colored side mirrors, rear model designation, and rear engine grille. Exclusive upgrades for the lightened Carrera are shorter gear lever with red contrast stitching, 0.39-inch ride height drop, rear locking differential, and shorter final drive ratio. Like the Carrera S, rear-wheel-steering is an available extra.

Interior improvements add a GT Sport steering wheel as standard. Porsche is offering the Carrera T with 18-way Adaptive Sport or full bucket seats. Opting for the full-buckets removes the back seats entirely, preventing the possibility of unfortunate adults getting their knees crushed. European customers can opt to put the navigation unit back in at zero cost.

Base price for the Carrera T starts at $102,100 with U.S. deliveries expected by March 2018. Its pricing places it $3,000 under the Carrera S and $4,000 over the Carrera 4. We say the improvements are nice but not enough to recover its value-per-dollar. Porsche's attempt to straddle the 6-figure introduction with performance and purity falls short at both. If serious speed is what you're after, the 640 hp Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with Z07 package trounces the Carrera T in every athletic measure. If you're looking for a fun driving experience, the Jaguar F-Type R churns out an insatiable sound from its 5.0-liter V-8. And if you want something in between, save up the money and get a 911 GT3. Then you'll know you made the right choice instead of settling for less.

T stands for Touring.