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RE: Porsche 911 GT3 manual: Review

RE: Porsche 911 GT3 manual: Review

Monday 8th May 2017

Porsche 911 GT3 manual: Review

We'll stop talking about the GT3, promise ... but not until we've called 'manual or PDK'



A decade ago obituaries for manual gearboxes on fast cars were everywhere. Ferrari and Lamborghini both did away with the option of a clutch pedal, Luddite dissent marginalised by dwindling sales of three-pedal versions. The trend has since migrated downwards though, to the point where hot hatches like the Clio Renaultsport are now sold as paddle-only cars.

Porsche has stood firmer than most, it has to be said. But when the first 991 GT3 launched as PDK-only the outrage from some was matched with pragmatism by others, given it would be quicker-shifting, faster-launching and have a direct technical link to the company's paddle-shifted race cars.

But the world has turned and manuals are back in fashion again. Ferrari and Lamborghini are unlikely to ever return but those late manual cars - the very ones the sales execs advised buyers against in the strongest terms - are now trading at a sizeable premium. Aston Martin has put a new seven-speed manual in the Vantage V12 S. And now Porsche's Motorsport division has returned to the fold, offering a six-speed manual in the 991.2 GT3 as a mea culpa over the decision to deny it in the previous car.


Spanish fly
Dan got to fang the new GT3 PDK around Wales but to drive the manual I had to travel a bit further to the international launch at Circuito Guadix in Spain. The hardship.

It also gave chance to revisit discussion of the manual option with Andreas Preuninger. I start, cheekily, by reminding him that at the launch of the previous GT3 the PDK-only decision was pitched as a big improvement, largely on the basis of its faster lap times. "Well it is still faster on track," Preuninger says, "but lap times aren't everything, are they?"

Preuninger stresses his ambition has always been to offer transmission choice - "like whether you take the ceramic brakes" - but limited development resources restricted what was possible. But he admits the PDK-only GT3 displeased some traditional buyers, with the huge popularity of the manual-only Cayman GT4 - and an increase in engineering resources - making the case.

This was initially used in the 911 R, but the plan was always to spread the costs by offering it in the GT3 as well. Preuninger says he doesn't know how many people will opt for the manual - a zero-cost option tick in most territories - but reckons it could be as high as a third of production. "If it's less than 20 per cent then I'm in trouble," he admits.


Old school
Changes over the PDK car are, predictably, minimal. The manual 'box weighing 17kg less than the PDK but lacking launch control and slower off the line. Porsche claims a 3.9-second 0-62mph time versus 3.4 seconds for the doppelkupplung. But it claws some of this deficit back, its 7.6-second 0-100mph time being just 0.3 adrift of the PDK. The need to distribute six ratios further than PDK's seven has seen the manual's gearing spread further, although that's had the side effect of increasing top speed to 198mph by a notional 1mph.

You won't be too shocked to hear that the manual GT3 is a very different prospect from the PDK. Not necessarily better, and certainly not worse, but changed in a way that redefines the character of the car.

You're kept busier, obviously. While the PDK copes well enough in Drive for low-intensity use, and requires little more than a flexed finger at maximum attack, changing gears the old-fashioned way takes fractionally longer. It's a difference that becomes obvious on track. But it's more fun as well.

The shift action feels unsurprisingly similar to the 911 R. It's beautifully weighted, accurate and has the perfect physical spacing meaning you can sense the gear the moment you touch the lever. As with every 911 you can feel the distance separating lever and selector forks so there's not the metal-through-metal sensation that comes from having a gearbox sitting directly beneath your hand.

But the gearbox works as part of a chain, one with the driver in the middle. The clutch is heavy but bites low and progressively enough to allow gentle inputs to yield superior smoothness to the PDK at manoeuvring speeds. The accelerator pedal's instant responses - and the engine's minimal flywheel effect - positively encourage rev-matching, either with just a dose of throttle, or by using the firm brake pedal as the fulcrum for some heel-and-toe work. Yes, there is a god-like electronic blipper that perfectly blends downshifts if the gearbox Sport button is pressed. It's scarily precise, but it definitely feels like cheating.

On quiet Andalusian backroads the manual is the perfect companion, every corner inspiring at least one downshift while straights permit holding a gear to appreciate the fizz of that amazing motor closing on its 9K redline. The engine's appetite for revs also simplifies tight and technical sections, where the gearbox can be left in third or sometimes even second for whole sequences without finding the limiter.


Value call
Moving to the track confirms the manual GT3 isn't quite as quick as the PDK under a full spanking. It's less the extra tenths here and there but rather the lack of tolerance for hesitation or mistakes. Which, for those who take pride in their craft, is exactly the point. PDK delivers a ratio in about as long as it takes for you to frame the thought; in the manual you'll be weighing up the time lost with an upshift against running out of revs just before hitting the brakes or whether that downshift really is necessary when the engine has so much mid-range to lean on.

If lap times and tenths are your goal then pick the PDK. Likewise, if you want to flaunt the Motorsport look in stop-start commuting traffic the temptations are obvious. It's not like the option of a manual makes PDK the wrong choice. But if you crave the involved, tactile experience (not to say challenge) 'true' GT3 fans have traditionally appreciated the manual is definitely the one. Arguably this is what the GT3 has always been about as much as outright pace and why, in my case, I'd have it every time.


PORSCHE 911 GT3 (991.2) manual
Engine
: 3,996cc flat-6
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 500@8,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 339@6,000rpm
0-62mph: 3.9sec
Top speed: 198mph
Weight: 1,488kg EU with 75kg driver
MPG: 21.9 NEDC combined
CO2: 290g/km
Price: £111,802

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Iamnotkloot

Original Poster:

117 posts

72 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Lovely, lovely car. Manual for me.....

gigglebug

659 posts

47 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Will be interesting to see what premium the market sets for the manual cars over the PDK equipped versions when the inevitable speculation begins. I can't see it being a no cost option in any territory then to be honest.

Edited by gigglebug on Monday 8th May 12:10

British Beef

1,042 posts

90 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all

I do wonder what this will do to the astronomical 911 R values?

I would take a manual GT3 any day of the week, well done Porsche for listening to customers.

Now it they will just build a few more of these things so that everyone with enough wedge can buy one, I will still not be able to afford one!

alexrogers92

44 posts

19 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
'PorschetonHeads'

hondansx

3,029 posts

150 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Still not warming to the Gen 2 looks, but love that colour and i'm curious to see how the PDK / Manual split goes. I'm thinking way higher than 20%!
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Cold

3,535 posts

15 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
alexrogers92 said:
'PorschetonHeads'
Porsche Matters.

tvrolet

3,194 posts

207 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
It might look quite good once they put the top-coat on and cover the primer...

Dan Trent

1,807 posts

93 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Cold said:
alexrogers92 said:
'PorschetonHeads'
Porsche Matters.
Here we go... biglaugh

Dan

Chris Stott

3,790 posts

122 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Manual, no clubsport, folding buckets, and the rumored 'touring pack' (wing delete), in a sensible colour, with silver wheels.

Perfect R stand in.

gigglebug

659 posts

47 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
I think the one thing for me that Porsche have definitely done over the years is improve the interior design. Although I still love the look of the 996 C4S I had I never thought the interior was in any shape or form an attractive or a special place to be which might be excusable on a track orientated version where the aesthetics wouldn't really matter but was a bit disappointing for a relatively high cost premium product designed for road use. I do now think that the 991 is both stunning to look at on the outside and both nicely resolved and quality looking on the inside too which it should have always been.

This GT3 looks the nuts to me. If I was lucky enough to be given the choice I'd probably still plump for the manual but to be honest with my ability I dare say I'd be both quicker and better with the PDK.

Edited by gigglebug on Monday 8th May 12:20

Dave Hedgehog

9,780 posts

129 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
utterly lovely

i even like the colour

now to win the euro millions 5 times so i can bribe my way onto the list

99dndd

510 posts

14 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
That looks gorgeous and I'd have the manual every time.

However, those who have reached the stage of life where they can afford this will probably prefer the nature of the PDK.

I can see where these manufacturers are coming from. Most people who can't afford to buy new want a manual, those who can want an auto.

Digga

22,950 posts

208 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
British Beef said:
I do wonder what this will do to the astronomical 911 R values?
As well as 991.1 GT3 / GT3RS prices.

Dan Trent said:
Cold said:
alexrogers92 said:
'PorschetonHeads'
Porsche Matters.
Here we go... biglaugh

Dan
The latest version of one of the most hyped and anticipated sports/track cars of our time and Pistonheads are supposed to def it? Obviously. rolleyes

Jam12321

143 posts

35 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Looks pretty decent from the outside, bet its an awesome steer like the last one i drove. Interior looks standard Porsche, bland and boring with a cheap looking clock stuck on the dash as an afterthought and buttons that look like they came out of any VAG hatch.


gigglebug

659 posts

47 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Digga said:
British Beef said:
I do wonder what this will do to the astronomical 911 R values?
As well as 991.1 GT3 / GT3RS prices.

One of the most hyped and anticipated sports/track cars of our time and Pistonheads are supposed to def it? Obviously. rolleyes
I can't see that it will effect 991.1 versions that much, well no more than usual anyway, as the PDK version will just naturally fall in line with these. I expect the manual version will rocket off in the distance though and meet the 991R in the middle at some point. I expect anyone who has paid 300K plus for an R and was hoping to make money in it at some point is watching with interest but then you would have thought that many would have seen this coming?


gigglebug

659 posts

47 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Jam12321 said:
Looks pretty decent from the outside, bet its an awesome steer like the last one i drove. Interior looks standard Porsche, bland and boring with a cheap looking clock stuck on the dash as an afterthought and buttons that look like they came out of any VAG hatch.
It's still a world away from a 996 version though don't ya think?

Chris Stott

3,790 posts

122 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
gigglebug said:
Digga said:
British Beef said:
I do wonder what this will do to the astronomical 911 R values?
As well as 991.1 GT3 / GT3RS prices.

One of the most hyped and anticipated sports/track cars of our time and Pistonheads are supposed to def it? Obviously. rolleyes
I can't see that it will effect 991.1 versions that much, well no more than usual anyway, as the PDK version will just naturally fall in line with these. I expect the manual version will rocket off in the distance though and meet the 991R in the middle at some point. I expect anyone who has paid 300K plus for an R and was hoping to make money in it at some point is watching with interest but then you would have thought that many would have seen this coming?
Agreed.

You only have to look where 996 GT3 and 997.1 &.2 GT3 prices are to see there's nowhere for 991.1's to fall to.

A top condition 996 GT3 is approaching £100k, and gen 2 997's are >£100k, so 991 GT3's will almost certainly remain c.£130k.

Jam12321

143 posts

35 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
gigglebug said:
It's still a world away from a 996 version though don't ya think?
An improvement without doubt!!

If i was to sit down in one without knowing the car at all, i really would struggle to believe its a 100K car! That clock.....

Cold

3,535 posts

15 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Dan Trent said:
Here we go... biglaugh

Dan
Are you suggesting that some are constantly talking about the same thing over and again and you're finding it a touch repetitive?

Adz The Rat

8,873 posts

134 months

Monday 8th May 2017
quotequote all
Something about prospectors and people on the list who don't deserve one.....

I can't afford one but they shouldn't make them blah blah blah

laugh