Last week's 2017 Geneva motor show debut of the updated 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 signalled availability of a manual gearbox to the enthusiast-focussed model for the first time since the 997.2 GT3. Now though, it seems, despite the reintroduction of a manual option, buyers are still favouring Porsche's self-shifting PDK transmission.
Available for order in Australia since its 2017 Geneva motor show unveiling, the 991.2 Porsche 911 GT3 is offered with either a standard seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission or an alternative six-speed manual – the latter being unavailable since the first-generation 991 GT3 succeeded the second-generation 997 GT3 in 2013.
Speaking to CarAdvice, Porsche Cars Australia public relations and motorsport director Paul Ellis said, although there had been widespread interest in the return of a manual gearbox to the iconic GT3 911 variant, initial customer response seems to be somewhat at odds with some expectations.
“We’re holding a considerable number of expressions of interest [for the new GT3], and by that I mean, money-down expressions of interest,” Ellis said.
“Customers have sort of bemoaned the fact that there was no manual available with the previous  GT3, and now that there is one available [on the 991.2 GT3], they’re still ordering the PDK – because it is a faster car.
“There will certainly be take-up on manual, but probably not as big as everyone thought because those that were hardcore manual drivers, they’ve had the opportunity to drive PDK in that sort of high-performance context. They’ve become convinced of the merits of PDK, and have placed that above their sporadic desire to drive a manual gearbox every now and then.”
With final production numbers yet to be confirmed (or made public) by Porsche, Ellis says the 991.2 911 GT3 will not be a ‘limited edition’ model – unlike the manual-only 911 R revealed at the 2016 Geneva motor show, limited to 991 units.
“We will not have any trouble selling whatever is allocated to us, I don’t think,” Ellis said.
“This is a series production car, albeit, it may not run the full model life of the second-generation 991. But it will have a meaningful production period.”
And while Porsche Cars Australia may not quite have enough numbers to confirm any potential trend in buyer preference, Ellis says early indicators suggest automatics will still outsell manuals.
“[There’s] a lot of interest generally overall, and not people necessarily saying I have to have a manual or I have to have a PDK, they’re just saying I want a GT3. But some of the anecdotal evidence from discussions with dealers is that people they thought might lean towards a manual, are probably going to lean towards a PDK.”
Could this have something to do with the fact that all 25 examples of the 911 R, allocated to Australia, were snapped up in no time?
“It’s hard to tell,” Ellis said, “Because even if they had of built the 911 R with ‘paddle power’, it still would have sold – so you can’t really draw a conclusion from that.
“But it did sell out. The Cayman GT4 was manual only and that exceeded expectations [too], so you’d have to say that there’s strong and healthy demand, not just in Australia but globally, for manual Porsche performance cars.”
Priced at $404,700 (before on-road costs), the 1370kg Porsche 911 R is powered by a 4.0-litre flat-six engine that develops 368kW of power at 8250rpm and 460Nm of torque at 6250rpm. Also propelled by a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six, the new 991.2 911 GT3 starts at $327,100 (before on-road costs) and outputs an identical 368kW of power at 8250rpm, with its 460Nm of torque peaking at 6000rpm.
The lightest road-going version of the current 911, the 911 R claims 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 323km/h. Tipping the scales at 1413kg in manual guise and 1430kg in PDK trim, the 991.2 911 GT3 claims 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds (3.4s PDK) and a top speed of 320km/h (318km/h PDK).
The first 2018 Porsche 911 GT3s are due to arrive in Australia from the fourth quarter of 2017.