By on July 9, 2013
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I have not had the opportunity to drive the newest iteration of Porsche’s 911 GT3. I probably won’t until somebody I know buys one. But I have driven the 991 Carrera S with the 7-speed manual transmission, and plainly put, it’s a crappy gearbox, the polar opposite of the enjoyable unit in the 997. The shifter feels balky and soft, the clutch is heavy and feels oversprung. It is the furthest thing from enjoyable. Purist tendencies be damned, I would get a PDK 911 in a heartbeat rather than dealing with the awkward, artificial stick shift. Apparently I’m not alone.

Canadian outlet AutoFocus spoke to Andreas Preuninger, the man in charge of the 911 GT3 since day one.  Addressing the inevitable complains about the GT3′s switch to PDK-only, Preuninger politely proclaims what many of us are thinking; the people doing the complaining are never going to drive, much less own one.

Q: Here’s the question you’re getting a lot: Why PDK only and no manual transmission?

A: The PDK that is so discussed so much—‘Why! How can you do this! Holy Manual and skip it overboard’—I say it’s a shut up and drive. 

It’s a crucial period now, people complain, forming strong opinions about something they can’t judge because they didn’t have any opportunity to drive it and judge it realistically. But that will pass as soon as the first journalists come back with their feedback—and I know exactly what this feedback is going to be like. 

I experience it too often. With every new RS: ‘Oh no! This colour scheme; Oh no! These decals; How can they do this; Blah blah bloop.’ And everybody bought it nevertheless and is happy.

What this also leaves out is a stark fact that many do not like to admit. Just because it’s a manual gearbox does not automatically (no pun intended) make it superior to the two-pedal option. There are cars where the automatic is the better choice. Mazda’s Skyactiv cars spring to mind. I fear that Porsche is next on that list.

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27 Comments on ““Shut Up And Drive”, Urges Porsche 991 GT3 Engineer...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “But that will pass as soon as the first journalists come back with their feedback—and I know exactly what this feedback is going to be like.”

    No sh@t. Porsche press releases are templates for the articles and Porsche approves any changes before they’re published. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that Porsche will be dictating positive reviews of their latest automatic transmissions. Andreas Preuninger should shut up and learn how to make a manual transmission.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    “Purist tendencies be damned, I would get a PDK 911 in a heartbeat…”

    Sandbagging on the manual to increase take rate of the rather expensive ($4,000) PDK option? Not a bad strategy to increase transaction price while further emphasizing the value of PDK relative to the 7MT.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    The 991.2 will have the following basic options.

    - An NA 470 hp flat six mated to an 8 speed PDK with shift speeds so fast they occur in the future, ensuring the gear you need is the gear you have. And it actually make you look like an F1 driver, not just sound like one. I mean literally, you get to pick what face the car makes it seem like you have. Oh yeah, it is invisible to cops and cannot get into an accident that harms others, regardless of how stupid you drive it. Oh yeah, it gets 7869 mpg.

    - A 4 speed manual with 8″ between pedals, non defeat TC/SC, seats from an old Subaru and a mis-firing V6 from an old Ford Ranger.

    We will be told how enthusiasts just have to get with the times. Manuals suck, PDK is where the real driving pleasure is at.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    Well, if rich, I’d have no qualms spending my money on something else just out of spite because of this type of attitude. Heck, I do it with BMW’s now and I can fully afford them.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    “What this also leaves out is a stark fact that many do not like to admit. Just because it’s a manual gearbox does not automatically (no pun intended) make it superior to the two-pedal option. ”

    Especially when it is designed to be an inferior option or really not designed at all.

  • avatar
    hp

    Very true, most of the people who demand a manual, never show up at the dealership with money.

    Internet argument, “they don’t know how to drive”
    Real life, a wealthy car enthusiast has more track time than 100 average posters put together

    Internet argument, “he can’t drive stick”
    real life, a wealthy car enthusiast, especially the types that buys sports cars no doubt has had a few manuals in his past, he wants something different. Probably his 2, 3, 4th+ car anyways.

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      Wow, those are some assumptions you made there.

      It is always fun watching people argue for less choice in a car segment that is really about personal satisfaction.

      I own a Boxster S, manual, since new. I’ve driven a PDK version. It is great. There are times when I wish I had it. And there are times when I didn’t. But there is never a time when I wish I didn’t have the choice between an excellent manual and an excellent auto when it came to buy it.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    Derek, Why the SkyActive mazdas specifically? Just to eek the most mileage, or is there something specific to the eco engines which make them less good with a stick?

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      According to one of the slicks, the automatic version of the new Mazda 6 is significantly faster to 60 than the manual, the reason being that two shifts are needed in the manual before hitting 60 and the autobox — however many shifts it requires to hit 60 mph — does them quickly enough to make the car significantly faster in that particular test.

      I believe in the Skyactiv automatic, the torque converter locks up at a very low speed and stays locked, so it feels and works more like a DCT, but without the annoying chatter when creeping at walking speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        Jacob

        The 2.0L engine in Skyactiv Mazdas is not that powerful. Lots of shifting is still required to get any speed out of it. Having driven 2.0L compacts with a manual, I agree that shifting gears all the time just to keep up with a soccer mom van is not always fun. Of course, the automatics make the car even more lethargic. The reviewers on this web site seemed to agree than the Skyactiv auto box works well in CX-5, 3, and 6. I think Skyactiv auto box is really liked because Mazda somehow figured out how to build an auto box that downshifts the instant when you need in real life.

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/ask-the-best-and-brightest-when-are-two-pedals-better-than-three/

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          We actually have a pre-skyactiv current gen 3, and while not having driven a skyactiv one, the 5-speed auto in ours is far and away the best auto transmission I’ve driven, though my experience is almost entirely 10 year old Porsches and Audis.

          Any intentional slip before full lockup is imperceptible. In full auto mode, it just knows when I want power, and always seems to be in the right gear. In manu-matic mode, it is one of the most responsive of the tiptronic-style gearboxes I’ve ever used.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The best automatic transmission I’ve driven is in a 2004 Acura TSX. The same basic transmission, now calibrated for the enemy’s new CAFE standards, is mediocre in a 2012 Honda CR-V. There’s a right way to select ratios and shift points, and there’s a way that produces big numbers on the EPA’s dyno cycle. The ZF 8-speed in the 2012 Audi A6 I drive is generally better than the 2012 CR-V’s 5-speed, but pathetic compared to the pre-CAFE-revision 2004 Acura TSX’s mechanically-similar 5-speed. This is what being forced to pay an idiot tax feels like.

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        By significantly you mean what? 0.5 second? Are you racing the clock or others that often? And does your acceleration efforts only include sprints from 0-60? My only real acceleration efforts involve going from say 25 to 70 to merge.

        That said, if you enjoy the auto and it is a good one great. Get it. I like good autos and I am glad they are becoming a fully viable choice with no loss in performance. But outright speed was and never should be a deciding factor in a street car.

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        Is that it? I don’t have a problem with that. It’s far better to let the engineers put the shift points where they think they belong, rather than stretching out 2nd gear just to make the 0-60 time look good.

        Does it feel worse than the automatic? That’s what matters.

  • avatar
    ant

    I test drove a Skyactive mazda3 with a stick….. Thought it was pretty dang nice.

    The auto shifted real nice too.

  • avatar

    The manual is kind of different than decals though.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    How does that go again? Oh yeah, “A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work”…or something like that.

    But to apply it here, I’d aay, “A bad manual transmission is still better than a good PDK” (or any other flappy paddle automatic that pretends to be a manual). No thanks, I’ll never a sporty car unless it has a clutch pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      White Shadow – - -

      I fully agree. You made my day. For this enthusiast, there are NO conditions in which any style of autobox is superior to a manual. No way. No How. No Where. It’s a philosophical and emotional thing. Once you have digested all operations and benefits that a manual offers, an “auto” feels like listening to Mozart on a cheap radio, as opposed to playing first violin in the orchestra. Yes, the difference is that dramatic.

      To provide a parody to that Porsche engineer: “Shut Up and Drive you Own Manual”. And if it’s a bit heavy, imprecise, and rough, it’s your fault. Straighten out the problem. Shouldn’t be too difficult: you guys are Porsche, for Gods’ sake. (Unless, of course, you are creating an artificial incentive to get the expensive PDK….)

      Here are some comments from others on this issue, some favorable and some not, but none hostile – -
      1) http://www.caranddriver.com/features/a-tale-of-two-porsche-seven-speeds-manual-and-pdk-tech-dept
      2) http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2012-porsche-911-carrera-instrumented-test-review
      3) http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/track-tests/track-tested-2012-porsche-911-carrera-s-pdk-vs-7-speed-manual.html
      4) http://www.autoblog.com/2011/09/05/2012-porsche-911-gets-shifty-with-7-speed-manual-gearbox/
      5) http://teamspeed.com/forums/991-997-996/71311-first-drive-porsche-911-cabriolet-7-speed-manual.html

      ————————-

  • avatar
    nvdw

    I find the ‘OMG NO MANUAL’ hate-o-rade quite tiring to be honest, especially in the case of the 911 GT3.

    Why shouldn’t it have a double clutch gearbox? It is meant to be a street-legal rendition of a track-ready 911. If Porsche intends to supply these race cars with PDKs, then according to logic, the GT3 would have it too. The 997 GT3 RSR features a paddle-shift gearbox. No clutch or gear stick either. They don’t have aircon or satnav either. These were ‘delete options’ on the 997 GT3 RS. How many owners of these supposed ‘spartan’ cars, the ‘purists’, actually deleted these options?

    A bad manual transmission is just that: a bad manual transmission. In the case of the 991 you’d have to use seven gears as well. What’s next? A ‘stacked’ eight speed like you find on semis of old? Give me a break. It’s a sports car, not a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Cubista

      This. There is a difference between an “enthusiast” car and a car that is designed with the goal of highest possible performance; an “enthusiast” car is made for people who enjoy the act of driving in a manner with which they feel the most connected with the car and the road. A performance car is made for someone who wants to go as fast as modern engineering will allow them to go.

      At this point in time, the two are mutually exclusive.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I know for a fact that when it comes to Acura TSX, automatic is most definitely, without shadow of a doubt, a less enjoyable option than the manual. Just drove my mom’s E46 325i with auto and that’s the right way to shift and spread 5 gears.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Too bad Porsche’s marketing department is pushing PDK hard while ignoring those interested in the man machine interface. PDK owners will no doubt feel the pain at re-sale time. That’s good company for all those lonely M3′s with SMG transmissions collecting dust at the used car lots.


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