2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T Review and Test Drive

The purist's sports car in its purest form.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T in Python Green parked on dirt.Mark Takahashi


I am slicing through the curves that meander across the mountains above Malibu, California. The Python Green 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T bounds from bend to bend, never missing a step and encouraging me to hit the pedals more fervently. I've got the window down, my sunglasses on, and for the briefest of moments, I am Steve McQueen.

Of course, reality creeps back in, reminding me that I am indeed not anywhere as cool as the king of cool and that the iconic sports car has been loaned to me by Porsche, not driven out of my own multi-car garage tucked behind one of the multi-million-dollar estates in the region.

Still, driving the 911 Carrera T is like taking a trip back in time. It uses the formula established when it debuted in 1963, from the classic styling elements and retro interior to the horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine mounted at the rear of the vehicle. New for 2023, the Carrera T is one of the most engaging and affordable versions of Porsche's legendary sports car — relative to the rest of the 911 stable, that is.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T in Python Green parked beside a winding road.Mark Takahashi

At the 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T's Price, You Pay More, Get Less, but Are Happy

The current eighth-generation 911 — often called the 992 by Porschephiles, per the model's internal code — debuted for the 2020 model year. It comes in coupe, Cabriolet (convertible), and Targa (semi-convertible) body styles and offers so many distinct variants that you'll need more than just your fingers and toes to count them.

In 2023, in addition to the Carrera T, the lineup expands to include the 911 Sport Classic, the off-road-capable 911 Dakar, and the top-performing 911 GT3 RS. Prices range from around $116,000 for the entry-level Carrera coupe to almost $245,000 for the GT3 RS.

The Porsche 911 Carrera T has a starting price around $127,000 and represents a distillation of the 911's spirit down to its essential properties. It tips the scales at 3,254 pounds — 100 pounds lighter than the base Carrera — thanks to lightweight glass, reduced sound insulation, and removal of the rear seats (which can be added back in as a no-cost option).

My test car wore a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $130,160, including the $1,450 destination charge to ship it from Porsche's factory in Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart, Germany, to your dealership. Porsche provided the car for this 911 Carrera review, which I conducted in Southern California.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T interior, dashboard, and front seat bottoms.Mark Takahashi

The Past as Present: Porsche 911 Design

Put this current 911 next to the original 1963 model, and it's easy to see how the design has evolved while retaining its trademark cues. Highlights include round headlights bleeding into fenders that protrude slightly higher than the hood; the graceful arc tracing from the windshield, over the top, and tapering toward the tail; the ovoid rear windows accentuating those shapes; and how the roof, side haunches, and tail merge in a fluid compound curve that sensually bends light and shadow.

The 911's exterior styling pays homage to its past without being beholden to it, and the same can be said about its interior, which in the test car conveyed a serious, down-to-business look. The horizontal dashboard with the instrument binnacle bulging above is directly linked to the 992's predecessors, as is the analog tachometer mounted dead center among the gauges. Bringing the car firmly back into this millennium are two configurable digital displays on either side of the tachometer and an infotainment touchscreen blended into the dash.

Materials quality throughout the cabin is excellent and certainly meets expectations for a six-figure sports car. At the same time, surfaces don't feel precious or fragile, instead exhibiting a satisfying heft and sense of durability.

 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T interior and front seats.Mark Takahashi

Comfortable for Sprints or Marathons

In keeping with the 911 Carrera T model's stripped-down mission, the standard sport seats offer manual adjustments. However, they're so well shaped you likely won't miss power adjustments to achieve your preferred position. The Sport-Tex synthetic leather is convincing enough to be mistaken for genuine hides, and the material breathes well when exerting yourself behind the wheel. There's ample lateral support from the side bolsters when cornering, yet they're not confining.

It's rare to experience seats this comfortable over long distances yet firm enough to transmit essential cornering information. Credit also goes to the adaptive sports suspension that softens for touring compliance or stiffens for sharper handling.

The Carrera T's reduced sound insulation and thinner glass make the cabin noticeably louder than most other 911s, but not in a bad way. I thoroughly enjoyed the engine's song and the exhaust note, especially at higher revs. This is one of those cars where you'd want to roll down the windows to hear the roar echoing off canyon walls.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T rear interior area with deleted seats.Mark Takahashi

Practicality Takes a Literal Back Seat

Porsche removes the Carrera T's rear seats to reduce weight, and considering how small they are, I didn't miss them. In fact, omitting the back seats makes loading luggage much easier because you don't have to worry about scuffing the upholstery.

A pair of large suitcases will fit back there with minimal jostling if you have the muscle to load them. That's helpful because the trunk under the hood (or the frunk) can only hold 4.6 cubic-feet of cargo, which likely won't accommodate many carry-on bags, let alone larger items.

 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T infotainment system.Mark Takahashi

Porsche Communication Management Is a Taste of Analog in a Digital Age

One of the few nods to modern technology is the standard Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system with Porsche Connect services, Navigation Plus, and Voice Pilot voice recognition technology.

The 10.9-inch touchscreen seems small, and its placement is a bit of a reach for shorter drivers. The on-screen buttons are also diminutive and can be challenging to use when driving. Fortunately, PCM's menus are logically arranged, and it's easy to quickly find what you're looking for when using the quick access buttons on the screen's left side.

Porsche's Voice Pilot system understands natural speech, which is a big improvement over the past system's clunky voice prompts and commands. You activate it by simply saying, "Hey, Porsche," or pushing the talk button on the steering wheel, and while the technology is accurate, it does take a while to execute your command.

While the best soundtrack comes from the 911 Carrera T's engine and exhaust, the base audio system performs well enough. This model's lack of sound insulation might keep you from thoroughly enjoying the Bose or Burmester premium audio options, but they're typically a great addition to other 911 models.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T interior, steering wheel.Mark Takahashi

2023 Porsche 911 T Safety Features Are Few and Far Between

At its core, the Porsche 911 is a driver's car. That means there are fewer technological kinks in the links between the driver, the vehicle, and, ultimately, the road. The most entertaining part of the 911 is how it slices through turns, not how it attempts to correct your driving.

As for safety features and driver assists, the only standard items are forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, placing responsibility for everything else in the driver's hands and feet.

That's not to say the 911 is outright lacking safety features. You just have to pay extra for them. For example, my test car came with an optional blind-spot monitoring system (Lane Change Assist), but outward visibility is good enough that you don't need it.

Other options absent from the test car included lane-keeping assist, a traffic sign recognition system, a surround-view camera, a semi-autonomous parking-assist system, and a night vision system. You can also equip a Porsche 911 with InnoDrive, which installs adaptive cruise control and a lane-centering-assist system.

With my lightly optioned 911 Carrera T's lack of safety tech, I can't comment on how those absent features work. However, during the many miles I logged in various conditions, I never experienced any false alarms or glitches from the features it did have.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T in Python Green parked on dirt, rear view.Mark Takahashi

The Beating Heart of Every Porsche 911

Buried beneath the 911 Carrera T's rear bodywork is the same turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that powers the base 911 Carrera. It produces 379 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque and mates to a standard seven-speed manual transmission or an available eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Both drive the rear wheels through a mechanical limited-slip differential.

In addition to the weight-saving measures, the Carrera T also adds an adaptive sport suspension, a Sport Chrono package, and a sport exhaust system.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T interior, manual shift knob, and lever.Mark Takahashi

Experiencing the Elemental Porsche 911 Sports Car

Fortunately, Porsche sent me a Carrera T with a manual transmission. Even though it may not be as quick or as fuel-efficient as the automatic option, it's the perfect way to experience this elemental sports car. The mechanical interface between driver and machine is exquisite, from the perfectly weighted clutch pedal with an intuitive friction zone to the short-throw shifter that had me changing gears just for the thrill of it.

Despite using the base 911 engine, there's more than enough power in a Carrera T to get my blood pumping. On a sinuous ribbon of pavement, the brakes proved consistent and reassuring. They're also easy to modulate as you trail them toward apexes, simultaneously rowing down through the gears. The automatic rev-matching feature allows drivers to toss the shifter into a lower gear and dump the clutch with no lurches or lockups from the rear wheels.

I prefer doing the heel-toe throttle blips myself, and Porsche makes it easy to disable the rev matching with a few button pushes. The pedals are optimally placed for this antiquated dance step, with just enough purchase for my foot to get on the brakes hard while deftly rolling my ankle to send the revs spiking. This level of driver engagement makes the Porsche 911 Carrera T (and any manual-transmission Porsche) special.

Getting back into the power after clipping an apex, it's easy to feed in the right amount of acceleration. In addition, the steering is appropriately quick, and even though there's not much feedback for the driver, the response and precision make it easy to place the car exactly where you intend.

2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T in Python Green parked beside a winding road.Mark Takahashi

The suspension is well-tuned for spirited driving, especially in the Sport driving mode, which firms up the dampers. At the same time, there's enough compliance to roll past mid-corner bumps without fear of spinning out.

Coming down out of the Malibu canyons and back to reality, there's also enough suspension compliance to make for a comfortable ride on the highway or city streets. In the softest suspension setting, the Carrera T feels only marginally stiffer than the base Carrera, making it suitable for use as a daily driver.

While I'm enamored with the louder engine and exhaust noises, I can see how it could be tiresome on a long road trip. A smartly optioned base 911 Carrera with more sound deadening could deliver a similar drive experience with more comfort. Personally, I love the louder volume of the Carrera T's mechanical symphony, and the ringing ears at the end of the day are just a reminder of the fun I had.

Another reminder is the fuel consumption. The EPA estimates a 911 Carrera T with the manual transmission can return 17/25/20 mpg in city/highway/combined driving, but that's only if you drive with extraordinary restraint.

As you can tell from the drive impressions, I lack such restraint, and that resulted in an unsurprisingly low result of around 10.2 mpg when ripping up the pavement and 19.5 mpg when on my best behavior on the highways.

 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T in Python Green parked beside a road, side view.Mark Takahashi

In a Class of One, for Now

There aren't many direct competitors for the 911 Carrera T — or the 911 in general.

The Chevrolet Corvette will save you quite a bit of money, but it doesn't have the polish and build quality of the Porsche. BMW offers the larger and more comfortable 8 Series and M8 coupe, but they're not as viscerally rewarding to drive. The Jaguar F-Type is an attractive V8-powered beast, but it trails regarding technology and overall performance. Mercedes-Benz has a revival of its brawny AMG GT on the way for 2024, and it has the potential to appeal to Porsche customers.

Nevertheless, the 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T is pure magic for those who want to feel like they're one with a vehicle. It's one of those cars that encourages you to take the long way home and give it one last parting glance before walking away. Sure, the Carrera T is rougher than some other 911 models, but there's still plenty of refinement and comfort for everyday use. Best of all, it is an unmitigated blast to drive.

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Mark Takahashi
There's no such thing as a perfect car, but I'm convinced that there is a perfect car for you. That's why I've spent the last two decades reviewing every type of vehicle I could get my hands on. From economy hatchbacks to high-performance sports cars and pickup trucks to family SUVs, I've driven them all. I aim to deliver the most comprehensive evaluation possible so you can see for yourself which vehicle is likely to be the best fit for your life and budget.