Seven-Speed Manual Porsches: They're Not Just Part Of Your Ecstasy Flashback Anymore

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
seven speed manual porsches they re not just part of your ecstasy flashback anymore

When Nissan introduced a six-speed manual transmission for its Sentra SE-R, Chiat did a really cute ad campaign called Master Of The Sixth Speed to trumpet the fact. For many years, a “6” on the gearshift was the sign of a serious performance car (or the serious diesel pickup which towed it.) The original mass-market six-speeders were all serious business: the Viper, the autocross-conquering L98 Corvette, and, of course, the Porsche 964. The Viper would have been fine with four forward gears, as would the ‘Vette, but the relatively peaky 3.6 non-Varioram Porker did benefit from having the shorter spaces between ratios.

Now that base Hyundai Accents and Kia Rios offer their owners a chance to become “masters of the sixth speed”, however, Porsche has decided to up the ante.

Our friends at AutoGuide report that the next-generation Porsche 911 is likely to have a seven-speed manual transmission as an alternative to the orthodontist’s-choice seven-speed PDK. Although the article doesn’t mention it, I would expect this transmission to be provided by Aisin. That’s right: since the disgraceful introduction of the “996” fourteen years ago, most variants of the 911 have used a Toyota transmission. Porsche’s own “G50” transmission, as seen in latter variants of the Carrera 3.2, the 964, and 993, was a famously robust unit that is still much in demand by makers of mid-engined kit cars. The Aisin “G96”, however, is a much weaker item and is known for a cavalcade of issues that would no doubt annoy more 911 and Boxster owners if their engines didn’t prophylactically self-destruct before the G96’s problems could become fully apparent. Don’t expect the addition of a seventh gearset in the same rather cramped housing to improve matters.

With any luck, Porsche will have some sort of ingenious system to prevent inadvertent “money shifts” across the middle of the gear range. American customers won’t accept first gear being in the “racing position” down and off to the left, as in the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16, so third and fifth are likely to be floating in the middle of the pattern between first and seventh. Perhaps applying the infamous “skip-shift” mechanism to prevent selecting gears which are absolutely inappropriate would address the issue.

Also on the agenda for the next 911: a “longer wheelbase for stability”. Maybe they can put it on the Touareg, I mean, Cayenne, I mean, Panamera platform?

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  • 63649 63649 on Jun 01, 2011

    So 7th gear in the Porsche is probably there to allow for better gas mileage when cruising and a better top speed while keeping the lower gears shorter to make them better for the street. It's almost like an overdrive on a 4speed automatic or the 6th gear on a ZO6. Am I on track with this?

  • M 1 M 1 on Jun 02, 2011

    "The Viper would have been fine with four forward gears" Maybe if you only road-race it. And only maybe -- on the long back straight at Sebring I'm often winding out 4th and thinking about 5th before I remember just how much speed I need to dispense with before entering the tooth-loosening hell that is the mile-wide hairpin going into the front straight. In the real world, I slip my Viper into 6th at about 65 MPH and can cruise all day at highway speeds turning less than 1500 RPM and enjoying approx 28 MPG. (One night [in a dream] I drove two solid hours through west Texas at 125 MPH... never cracking 2500 RPM and still managing 24 MPG.) Yes Virginia, more gears = gooder.

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