Given that some current 911s have close to 650bhp, the Carrera T’s 380bhp seems like a manageable amount – and it feels that way even when you’re seeking optimal standing starts in persistent rain. The 305-section rear tyres certainly produce plenty of traction in the wet, aided by the 911’s famously rearward weight distribution. And the car feels quick even when you can’t quite use all of its reserves through first and second gears.
Porsche’s Wet mode was introduced with the current 911. It does more than simply prime the electronic traction and stability aids for more proactive intervention; it also changes active cooling, active aero, automatic gearbox and torque vectoring settings where applicable.
In practice – in the manual, rear-drive Carrera T, at least – the effect felt quite subtle. It’s no launch-control-like traction management system: even with all the electronics active, it’ll let the drive wheels spin up and flail through standing water if you use too much power on take-off. Even so, Wet mode did seem to optimise our standing starts. Our fastest 4.8sec and 4.9sec 0-60mph runs were recorded with it active and weren’t oceans wide of the 4.3sec mark that Porsche claims for the car in optimal conditions.
What is, by the standards of turbocharged performance engines at least, a pretty crisp, progressive and free-revving power delivery from the car’s flat six helped our cause a lot, as did Porsche’s characteristically long-feeling gear ratios. The engine’s boost needs a split second to build when you first flex your foot, but instead of erupting forth, it spreads usefully thrusty performance across a wide band of revs and keeps working hard beyond 7000rpm.
So while the Carrera T may ‘only’ produce 332lb ft, it feels quite fast when accelerating in gear – and then it just keeps on pulling. In fourth gear, in the wet, 50-70mph took just 3.4sec (Chevrolet Corvette C8, in the dry, 3.1sec) and yet the Porsche will romp on to almost 140mph in that same ratio before it needs another one (Corvette max speed in fourth 117mph).
There is a clear sense of deep-founded strength of performance and satisfying flexibility to this powertrain, and that is quite the compliment for what is the 911’s engine at its least powerful. It’s hard-working, responsive and fast-revving and doesn’t feel in any way unfit for or beneath this car.
It’s also well matched to a manual gearbox of well-chosen ratios, with a shortish, medium-heavy and meaty-feeling shift action that quickly becomes intuitive. The five-plane, seven-gear factor amounts to no over-complication in normal driving, because you learn only to use seventh for relaxed motorway cruising. That aside, you simply enjoy the gearbox as you would any well-tuned, enticing six-speeder.
Wet weather wasn’t a significant obstacle to the Carrera T carrying serious speed around the Millbrook Hill Route and producing enough grip to sweep around its variously bumpy and adverse-cambered corners with lots of precision and stability. Here, where the Cup tyres of a 911 GT3 or similar might have floundered, the Carrera T’s regular P Zeros cut through standing water easily, and it was ready to be driven hard.
The four-wheel steering system did a great job of stabilising the car on turn-in and keeping it from rolling into throttle-off oversteer as 911s are so typically liable to do; as did Porsche’s Wet mode stability controls.
When you want to go fast, both are a boon. But when you want the chassis to cut loose and to have some fun with the electronics deactivated, the net result can be a car that needs to be driven particularly hard in order to become animated, and it doesn’t always seem as natural and progressive on the limit as it might.
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