There is a lot of criticism around progressive technology in the sports car segment. The manual transmission is one of the last foot-holds traditionalists can lay claim to, and few manufacturers have supported DIY gear changes like Porsche. This is why the debut of Porsche's 911 (991) GT3 has rattled the cages of die hard manual advocates and other supporters of the brands loyalty to their preferred gearbox.
Emotion vs. Engineering
There is no denying three pedals and six gears (sometimes seven) provides emotional excitement that paddles can never replicate. However, emotion and progress don't always sleep in the same bed.
Porsche has always seemed to support the "people" in the automotive community — maybe its their roots in Volkswagen — and their demand for super cars with manual transmissions. The truth is, competition and engineering have reached critical mass and the demand for paddles has driven Porsche to progress.
The GT3 has always been on the outskirts of supercar-dom — a little rough around the edges and punishing in the wrong hands. The PDK will allow the GT3 to compete with the pedestal manufacturers of Italy and aide in advancing the GT3's table manners.
This transmission is really, really good. After driving an early offering in a 997.2, it left me contemplating the necessity of a traditional manual — a thought not often visited.
Shifts are delivered in milliseconds, and in typical Porsche fashion, there is a seemingly endless array of settings that will guarantee you are not left wanting.
According to Porsche, engineers reworked the PDK for the GT3 to get shifts 50% quicker (50% of milliseconds can't be much right?) and allowed for an aggressive gear setting for the formerly pedestrian 7th gear.
Like it or not, PDK is here to stay. Porsche will continue to innovate and adapt to compete with sports and super car manufacturers worldwide. However, time will tell if faster shifts are worth losing the connection enthusiasts have come to associate with the manual transmission. But one thing is clear: if manufacturers want to stay competitive, not everyone is going to be happy.
Photo Credit: Porsche AG