In the world of fast shifting transmissions most consider Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK transmission to be the best on the market. This may no longer be the case, at least in terms of quick shifting, as Chevrolet claims that their tests show the new 10-Speed Hydo-Matic transmission used in the Camaro ZL1 offers faster shifts.
Just how much quicker does it change gears over its German rival? Upshifting from 1st to 2nd gear is 36 percent faster and 2nd to 3rd and 3rd to 4th are 27 and 26 percent faster.
The PDK transmission is quite possibly the best dual clutch semi-automatic transmission available. But, is it really any better than a traditional manual transmission?
From a speed of shifting stand point the PDK can change gears faster than any human is capable of. However, the manual is a lighter unit giving it a slight advantage in cornering.
Beyond this many enthusiasts prefer the manual because it adds drama to the driving experience. Having said this, more people opt for the PDK transmission when buying a new Porsche.
So which is the better option for a new Porsche? This video from Fifth Gear puts the transmissions to the test. It features two almost identical Porsche Caymans, with the only difference being that one is equipped with PDK and the other has a manual transmission.
They then test the two cars in a drag race and on the track. Will the faster shifting PDK be dominant or is it actually quicker to row your own in some cases?
This video is an oldie but goodie from Jay Leno’s garage. In it Jay takes a look at the then new PDK transmission in a Porsche 911 (997) Carrera Cabriolet. There is some footage of Jay, along with his mechanic, taking apart a PDK transmission to see just how the manual automatic transmission works.
The video then features Jay putting the 911 through its paces both in the city and on some nice back roads. He gets to show off the launch control and attempts to show just how fast the transmission can shift. While Leno says he would prefer a traditional manual transmission he says if you have to get an automatic (or manual automatic) get Porsche’s dual clutch transmission.
Also, remember this is an older video (the car is a 2009), so when there is talk about wishing there was a 7-speed manual available that was before the new 991 variant of the 911 came out and started to offer that. I wonder if this video gave Porsche the idea.
The manual transmission’s days look like they may be numbered. Even Porsche, that for a long time stood by the manual transmission as the transmission of choice for their driver’s cars, decided to only use their PDK transmission for the new Porsche 911 (991) GT3. While the reworked transmission looks like it will provide great performance, it just doesn’t give the driver the same kind of connection with the car.
For years the manual transmission was saved from being scrapped because automatic transmissions were always slow. However, now a days the dual clutch transmissions available in high performance car outperforms the manual transmissions by quite a bit. One has to wonder if you will even be able to buy a new car with a manual transmission within the next ten years.
Don’t get me wrong transmissions like Porsche’s PDK transmission are great and the cars perform great. Having said this, when I’ve driven a Porsche with the PDK transmission I didn’t feel connected the same way as I did with the manual transmission. The PDK transmission is a technical marvel and if your drive on the track you have to go with one, but if you just want a fun drive in your Porsche, I think a manual transmission is more fun.
In the above video I have filmed myself driving home from work with the camera on the shifter. The video has been edited to just show all of the shifts as I was driving. I also added some music to it which I think makes it a bit more entertaining. The video is to celebrate one of my favorite things about driving a sports car, the shifting and the experience you get from it.
So, will the manual transmission make a comeback or is the release of the new Porsche 911 GT3 with only the PDK transmission the beginning of the end? Either way, we can also enjoy a manual transmission in a classic sports car.
UPDATE: The video above was meant to be more tongue in cheek, so don’t expect for it to be informative for the topic.
There appears to be some debate over the last few days throughout the internet as to if the new 991 based Porsche 911 GT3 will only be available with a PDK transmission. There also appears to be a lot of evidence that it will be the only option for those looking at buying the new GT3. According to August Achleitner (the 911′s product chief) the next version of the 911 GT3 will only be available (you can read more about that here), so it will either have a traditional manual transmission or the PDK transmission if August is correct.
Part of what is sparking the debate is a September of 2011 interview with Porshce CEO Matthias Muller where he stated that the next GT3 will not have a PDK transmission (you can read the full interview here). However, over a year of development it appears may have changed his mind as over at rennlist.com pictures and information have surfaced about the next GT3 that appear to show a PDK transmission. You can read more about the next Porsche 911 GT3 and see all the pictures here.
Beyond the probably PDK transmission, the new GT3 appears to have a red-line of around 10K RPMs! The PDK transmission is reported to be completely different which should give it added performance benefits to the existing PDK transmission. Couple that high revving ability with the 450hp engine and it should make for a great performing 911.
Let us know in the comments what your thoughts are on a PDK transmission on the new Porsche 911 GT3.