PORSCHE 911 CARRERA T

HIGGO GETS BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A 911 FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A DECADE TO FIND THAT WHAT WAS GOOD THEN IS EVEN BETTER NOW

WORDS MARK HIGGINS PHOTOS ALEX AFFATT

WE CAN THANK the French for the iconic Porsche 911 model name.

You see at the 1963 Frankfurt Motorshow Porsche whipped the covers off its all-new sports car dubbed the 901, but Peugeot kicked up a stink claiming exclusivity to Ď0í as the middle digit of car model numbers.

So Porsche shrugged its shoulders, renamed it the 911 and started production in 1964.

In a bid to boost flagging sales Porsche introduced the 911 T, (Touring) in 1968. The T was an entry-level, stripped-out back-to-basics car with a less powerful engine than other 911 models, but it was still good enough to taste victory in the Monte Carlo.

Half a century on the badge has been resurrected.

This time it sits on the latest 911 and is named Carrera T and while the latest version is based on the Ďless is moreí philosophy of the original, the current Carrera T is fully loaded with plenty of kit and caboodle; it has cool retro touches, though, like the nylon door-opening loops inside and for weight saving most of the sound deadening has been flung and lightweight glass used on the side and rear windows.

HIGGO GETS BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A 911 FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A DECADE TO FIND THAT WHAT WAS GOOD THEN IS EVEN BETTER NOW

Also keeping the spirit of the original alive are the bold side stripes in a 60s design and a lower ride height than other 911s. Not in keeping with its great grandad are its wide rear flanks and pop-out and adjustable rear wing.

Vital Stats

2019 PORSCHE 911 CARRERA T

BODY 2-door Coupe

ENGINE 3.0lt twin-turbo flat six

POWER & TORQUE 272kW @ 6500rpm 450Nm @ 1750 5000rpm

PERFORMANCE 0-100km/h 4.0 seconds

TOP SPEED 290 km/h

TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic

BRAKES Discs all round

PRICE $238,400

Powering the $238,400 Carrera T is a twin-turbo, three-litre, flat six-cylinder engine with 272 kilowatts max power from a max torque figure of 449Nm delivered between a very usable 1750 rpm and 5000 rpm. Fitted with the optional 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) auto, zero to 100 km/h comes up in 4 seconds and 200 km/h 10.5 seconds later. Top speed is 290 km/h and while itís not the most powerful engine in the 911 line-up it doesnít hesitate in racing to the redline in each cog while filling the surrounds, and cabin, with its throaty, characteristic flat-six exhaust note.

Raising your senses and adrenalin even further are the Sport, Sport+ and individual powertrain modes that increasingly sharpen the Carrera Tís scalpel-like dynamic precision.

Ahead of the engine sits the PDK dual-clutch auto that is the best in the business with rifle fast shifts up and down the seven gears Ė itís the first time I have driven a car of this ilk and not wanted a manual.

But best of all is how manual the PDK auto is in its execution. It kicks down the gears with a throttle blip, even in full in auto mode and wonít upshift unless the next gear is selected, it just bounces off the rev limiter.

On some surfaces the 911 Carrera T can be noisy, but thatís down to the wide and grippy 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero tyres more than anything, unless you have the flat-six twin turbo operating above 5000rpm. Then you block out the tyre noise with the instantly recognisable wail of the turbo engine.

I hadnít driven a 911 for close to a decade and I was quickly falling in love with the Carrera Tís astonishingly high levels of traction, steering, handling, braking and roadholding.

Nail it and characteristically the bum dips, the P-Zeros bite the bitumen, and it fires out of the blocks quicker than Usain Bolt. Stand on the brakes and speed vanishes equally impressively.

But the highest accolades go to its steering and roadholding. Feedback through the alcantara trimmed steering wheel is constant and extensive. You feel every imperfection in the road and unlike the Porsches of old that would pitch you into the scenery if you lifted off mid corner, the 911 Carrera T sticks to the road like paint and corners with incredible stability. Even a deliberate big lift and unexpected mid-corner crater failed to upset its line and composure.

Playing its part in the sensory-overloading driving experience is the superbly sorted suspension and chassis setup. Porsche has been honing this configuration for 55 years and theyíve perfected its dynamic performance in every way. For those looking for a plush ride forget the Carrera T, or any 911. But I have to say the firm ride never became harsh or tiring and it would be an easy car to live with as an everyday driver.

Moreover, for all its electronic wizardry the Porsche 911 Carrera T still gives the driver loads of feedback and a totally unadulterated driving experience that is simply unrivalled.

The driving position is what I remember of the 911, low slung and the snug-fitting electrically adjustable sport seats hold you in place and are extremely comfortable.

Looking you right in the eye is the big circular, analogue tachometer that has been there for the past 55 years. To the left is the speedo with minor instruments flanking the tacho on the other side and all the controls are logically laid out and easy to reach and use.

On board are the usual apps, phone and music streaming Bluetooth, Satnav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, all encased in an easy-to-use central infotainment screen.

Unlike most other modern cars the key fob starts the Porsche and with a dash of almost French quirkiness, the electronic handbrake switch is snuggled under the dash on the right.

I wonder if it was going to be located there on the 901Ö I mean original 911.