After the launch of the new GT3 and Turbo versions of the Porsche 911 many people here at Jalopnik went mad because there is no manual transmission available anymore. I think that the choice of transmission depends on the character of the car it is installed in.
After reading many many comments that ranged from irony (The new Corolla is the better car because of a manual option) to pure evil (let's split Jalopnik into 2 nations, manual and auto, ChampCar and IRL) I decided to gift you all with my take on this whole question.
I want to start off with something american jalops should keep in mind: Manual is overrated. Like most young germans my car of choice, a beat up Fiat Stilo Multiwagon with massive 133hp under the hood, is a manual. Automatics are just not that common so we do all the work ourselves. And after becoming a routine driver it loses its magic. I am not thinking while changing gears, I just do it and don't notice it anymore. I don't feel like Walter Röhrl when driving on country roads just because I switch from 5th to 4th to overtake a truck. Shifting became something similar to turning on the wipers when it rains - you just do it without loving or hating it.
Imagine how much money on R&D any company spends to optimize the parts that make a car, especially if we are talking about performance cars. Brakes, Tires, Suspension, Engine, Steering, Aero... And after investing millions into details like that they need to address the gearbox. They can either put in a manual and hope that the guy driving it is able to throttle match the engine when on track and to get the most out of the car. So he better be someone with a race license. Or you drop in an automatic gearbox of some sort and let it do the shifting. It is faster, more reliable and easier.
Now back to the character of cars. Every car has soul. Some more than others, but every car is defined in certain ways. A Toyota Camry may not be the happiest or most entertaining car, but it is there when you need to rely on it. Your old Alfa GTV is charming and entertaining, but oh so often it will get on your nerves because it has its allures.
That's why I say that the gearbox needs to fit the cars overall character. Is it more of a fun machine where lap times and entry speeds don't count? Here are a few examples I thought of.
If I now take a look at the 991 GT3 and its new PDK I must say that I truly understand why Porsche did go this way. But still I a manual should be at least an option. This isn’t the RS; it by far isn’t as hardcore. If you really want to have the last bit of performance out of a chassis every Porsche enthusiast would take the GT3 RS and not the more civil GT3. The normal GT3 is a car to enjoy, a car where not every tenth counts, a car that doesn’t feel total wrong when driven slowly around town. Imagine the normal GT3 being someone who likes to jog on Sundays and even sometimes uses the Nike for iPod app while the RS has personalized nutrition plans, 2 apps to analyze running performance and a super slim (and a bit embarrassing) running shirt with a start number.
That’s why I say give the GT3 a manual as an option and drop the PDK into the upcoming GT3 RS and GT2 versions. It fits the cars character.
What are your thoughts on this?