Thursday, January 21, 2021
Features The Only Question When Getting A New Porsche 911: 7M or PDK?

The Only Question When Getting A New Porsche 911: 7M or PDK?

If one of these transmissions was not up to Porsche standards, we would not be having this debate


  • The question is never “should you buy a 911?”

  • The PDK is arguably the best automated manual gearbox in the world.

  • Porsche’s manual gearbox is arguably the best in the world.


There was a time, not that long ago, when high-performance sports cars and supercars were automatically delivered with three pedals and a shifter that traveled through an “H” pattern gate. Today, more than 95% of all modern super- and hyper-cars are all equipped with automatic transmissions. The same can be said for most sports cars including the 992 Porsche 911.

2021 Porsche 911 Carrera S
2021 Porsche 911 Carrera S.
World Copyright: Olivier Delorme

Well, that was the case with the 992 when it was first introduced. Eventually, a 7-speed manual transmission was made available and so today, as a shopper or enthusiast, you have the option of paddle shifters or a gated shifter. In fact, with the potential exception of the new BMW M3 and M4, and Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwing, for the moment, the 911 is the only true premium sports car that offers the owner a choice.

Volkswagen was actually the first automaker to fit a dual-clutch transmission in a mass-produced automobile. Granted, VW did not sell hundreds of thousands of the MK4 Golf R32 but it started something. Perhaps more importantly, although Porsche wasn’t the first to use the dual-clutch transmission, they were the first to develop it for racing applications. This begins to paint a picture – the Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) has decades of development behind it.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Porsche manual transmissions have also been honed on the racetrack which brings us to today and the question at hand: Manual or automatic?

There’s a quick answer to the question. If you want to go as fast as possible, at all times, get the PDK. With eight forward gears, the PDK not only delivers lightning-fast shift without interrupting power flow but thanks to its 7th and 8th gear overdrive ratios, the car is actually more efficient.

Wondering how much faster? Here’s a hint. The 911 Carrera with the PDK reaches 100 km/h from a standstill in 4.2 seconds. This is exact same sprint time as the Carrera S with the manual transmission (which includes the Sport Chrono package). By contrast, a Carrera, which is down 64 horsepower and 59 lb.-ft. of torque, with the Sport Chrono kit, covers the launch in only 4 seconds.

2021 Porsche 911 Carrera S
2021 Porsche 911 Carrera S.
World Copyright: Olivier Delorme

Thanks to the paddle shifters and various drive modes, the PDK is still extremely involving. The shifts, as quick and seamless as they are, are extremely satisfying. The transmission’s response to pulling back on either paddle, for an up- or downshift, is immediate and delivers a sense of involvement. It is incredible.

Driving a manual-transmission-equipped car has nearly become a dying art form. And like for creating any type of art, the right tools are needed to fashion the finest piece of said art. The Porsche 911’s pedals (same for a 718) are positioned in such a way that the driver swears they were tailor-positioned to match his or her foot length and width. Yes, practicing the heel and toe-dance to rev-match on a downshift has never been more intuitive than in this car – the 718 Spyder isn’t bad either.

Porsche 718 Boxster T | Photo: Porsche

The whole of the sequence of motions required to shift gears in this car is perfectly in tune with our human anatomy –  it simply feels right, and good. Shifter throws require minimal effort, depressing the clutch immediately becomes second-nature and the choreography writes itself as you drive off in the most iconic sports car ever built.

The final answer is that there is no wrong decision to be made. For what they are, both provide the driver with the finest driving experience. But, and this can spark a debate, true passion-filled drivers who desire to connect as deeply as possible with their 911 will always select the row-your-own-gears transmission.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Manual Review: This Is The Way To Go

Another possible consideration is future value. As manual gearbox cars remain rare and will continue to be, their potential resale value could be stronger, once more, for true passionate fans of the make and the 911.

The new 992 Porsche 911 is an exquisite piece of engineering, as is expected from Porsche, and is a unique and rewarding driving experience no matter the version.

2021 Porsche 911 Carrera S
2021 Porsche 911 Carrera S.
World Copyright: Olivier Delorme

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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