Porsche says that it will continue to make its iconic sports cars available with manual transmissions so long as there is even one customer that wishes it so, while the likes of the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS will remain naturally-aspirated for as long as possible.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the new 911 GTS, the Australian arm’s head of technical training, Paul Watson, said that the enthusiast will always seek a manual over the brand’s dual-clutch transmission (PDK) and Porsche will always offer it as a result.
“The enthusiast wants the manual because to them it’s more engaging,” Watson said.
“The PDK will always be quicker because it doesn’t make mistakes, it always has the right gear at the right time, it will always do the best job that a transmission can do. Having said that, the manual is never going to go away, we are committed to keeping manual transmissions in our cars”
According to Watson, the Porsche manual transmission in the 911 isn’t just a forgotten option to keep the doors open, it’s as engineered and suited to the vehicle as the PDK, with a seven-speed double plate clutch system that auto-blips on the downshift and offers a locking differential.
Even so, Porsche Australia’s director of public relations, Paul Ellis, says that even though most customers start out by wanting a manual, they end up going with a PDK when it comes to handing over the final order.
“The customer comes in, places the order, says they want the manual gearbox, but when it comes to signing, they say "I’ll take the PDK". Why? Because they know that’s the faster car, the more fuel-efficient car and probably the better car for resale.”
But despite more than 90 per cent of Porsche 911s sold in Australia being equipped with a PDK system, the company will remain committed to the manual gearbox for the foreseeable future.
“Absolutely, as long there is one customer that wants a manual, we will build it.”
As for maintaining its commitment to naturally-aspirated engines, Ellis said that some models in the 911 range simply have to be non-turbo.
"There are some cars in our range that have the uniqueness in being naturally-aspirated, so if that uniqueness fails to exist by going to a turbo, you basically eliminate the variant.
"So for our company, it's very important to keep and preserve the uniqueness of some of our models, so if the uniqueness is determined by the way the engine operates, we will keep it. As far as we can see, the uniqueness in the GT3 is based on having naturally aspirated engines."
This attitude towards naturally-aspirated engines is only shared with Lamborghini in the top-end segment, as Ferrari and even Aston Martin have succumbed to emission requirements. Porsche's move to make its standard Carrera models turbocharged has allowed its group emission average to come down so that it can continue its GT vehicles without compromise.
As for manual gearboxes? Ferrari and Lamborghini have long ago gone in favour of high-tech automatic transitions and even the likes of Mercedes-AMG has ditched the manual transmission. Porsche remains in rare company alongside Aston Martin, as the two last bastions of hope for manual sports car lovers the world over.