Porsche has 4 types of transmission systems and some Porsche models have dual systems. This means you can switch between automatic and manual.
Let’s have a look at the different Porsche transmission systems and how they differ.
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What Can We Expect From Porsche’s Transmission Systems?
The 4 types of Porsche transmission systems are:
- PDK Automatic
- 2-Speed Transmission
Porsche’s latest manual transmission is a 6 or 7-speed option!
2008 saw PDK series production for the first time. Enter second-generation Porsche 911 Carrera, with an 8-speed PDK transmission and no manual option.
The Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetreibe (PDK) was initially developed in the 1980’s for sport racing. This unique, dual-clutch transmission system (DCT) is standard in most new Porsche models. Except for Porsche Cayenne, which has Tiptronic transmission
PDK allows you to switch from manual to automatic. Tiptronic allows you to switch from automatic to manual.
The new, all-electric, Taycan Turbo and Turbo S have 2-speed transmission (electric engine). Before Taycan electric vehicles (EV’s) only had single-speed transmission.
Which Porsche models are manual?
This is a bit of a trick question.
Way back in 1968, the Sportomatic transmission was introduced and called “automatic”.
But it was still manual.
What it did have, was a vacuum-packed, single-disc dry clutch. And a modified 4-speed gearbox. The flywheel was replaced by a torque converter. It allowed the car’s clutch to be engaged even when the car was stationary.
The Sportomatic paved the way for the PDK, which paved the way for today’s Tiptronic. Early attempts at Tiptronic transmission were riddled with problems. But today this trademarked transmission system is polished and perfected.
From 1980, PDK replaced Sportomatic.
Although PDK is a dual-clutch system, and therefore also a manual transmission, it allowed for smooth, swift gear changes. The development of this system was in the Porsche pipeline for over three decades before it was finally completed for mainstream production.
Today 80% of all Porsches have PDK transmission. But some models, like the new Panameras and Macans, only have PDK Automatic. No longer is the manual option available.
Keep an eye on our article which explains about Are Porsches Expensive To Repair? Cold Facts
The new Panameras have 8-speed PDK transmissions.
Porsches with manual transmission include:
- New 911 Speedster (manual only)
- 718 Caymans
- 718 Boxsters
- 718 Spyders
- 911 Targas
- 911 Carreras
The 2012 911 Turbo is among the last Turbo manuals around. This means collectors will be on the lookout for these older models. There were just over 85 made.
Technically, with forced induction, most non-GT3’s can still be considered manual. But in reality, the Turbos will only be available with PDK.
Porsche has brought out PDK only models, like the GT3, circa 2013. And the new Carrera and Carrera 4S, also PDK only.
But to keep all their fans happy, they then brought out the 911 Speedster as a manual only option, and it is an open secret that the new generation 992 GT3 and GT3 RS is returning with a fully aspirated engine.
Which Porsche models are automatic?
Thanks to the custom configurations Porsche offers, you can choose a manual with a PDK option. But now there are fewer models to choose from.
The following Porsches only have PDK and manual is no longer an option:
- 911 Turbo
- 911 Turbo S
- 911 GT3 RS
- 911 Carreras
Back in 2013, Porsche announced that their GT3’s would go fully automatic. Many were skeptical.
At the time, Andreas Preuniger, the man in charge of Porsche GT, said,
“The new 911 GT3 is superior in so many ways. And offers a more intimate driving experience. With technology and advancements, the rpm is 9000 and it has 475hp. Gear shifts take place at less than 100 milliseconds.”
He added that with the new PDK, which was 7-speed, (with 7 being the fastest) you engage more than you would with any manual.
Porsche has reworked their automatic transmission to a point where the driving experience, often lost with automatics, has returned and superseded that of a manual.
But fast forward to the present (2019) and they have changed their tune, or should we say transmission.
And for those who refuse to believe that PDK is the way forward, the GT3 can be custom built with the dynamic 6-speed manual transmission. And it shaves 17kg off the weight.
Are the Porsche 911 manual or automatic?
It seems Porsche can’t make up their mind either.
All Porsche enthusiasts agree that the Classic 911 is both legendary and evolutionary. But they can’t agree on whether they want to embrace the automatic transmission or stick with the manual.
And so it is quite natural for Porsche to have produced 911’s that have manual and automatic transmissions.
There was much panic in Porsche circles as manual slowly phased into manual with PDK option and then finally, as we saw with the GT3, the PDK was the only option. But with the 8-speed PDK system installed in 911’s, like the new Carreras, Porsche aficionados will be smiling.
The new Carrera no longer has a manual option, but the new PDK offers a driving experience that promises to engage the driver as much, if not more, as before.
If it is all about the speed, then adding the Sport Chrono package will shave an extra 0.2 seconds off your 0-100km/h time, bringing it from 4.2 seconds down to 4.
The 911 Speedster comes with a manual transmission, but what a manual it is!
The table below compares the 911 Speedster, the 911 Carrera 4 and the 911 GT3
|Specs||911 Speedster||911 Carrera 4||911 GT3|
|Transmission||Manual||PDK||Manual (PDK option)|
|Power (kW)||375 kW||283 kW||368 kW|
|Power (PS)||510 hp||385 hp||500 hp|
|Acceleration 0-100km/h||4.0 s||4.2 s (4s with Sports Chrono package)||3.9 s|
|Emissions CO2 comb.||317 g/km||210 g/km||290 g/km|
|Fuel consumption||13.8 l/km||9.2 l/km||12.9 l/km|
|Top Speed||310 km/h||291 km/h||320 km/h|
Is the Tiptronic transmission reliable?
Yes, Tiptronic transmission is not only reliable but it also solves the problem many Americans seem to have with manual driving. With Tiptronic, a torque converter replaces the clutch. But you still have an option to flip over to manual, albeit sans clutch.
The Tiptronic transmission is problem-free. You get 12 years of hassle-free transmission. Eventually, you’ll need to change the ATF (automatic transmission fluid) and the filter but only after 108 000miles, if not longer.
Why do most Americans prefer automatic transmissions?
The PDK Automatic system works on the same principle as standard DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) but it’s comprised of two gearboxes and two (concentric) driveshafts. It has “hydraulic actuated wet-clutch packs”. These lubricate the system, decrease wear and tear and prevent overheating.
PDK systems have 8 gears. Previous models only had seven. The sixth gear remains the fastest, but the seventh allows for better fuel consumption. By adding the eighth gear, Porsche provides that extra edge and ease of handling.
When compared to manual, the PDK system is all about improving acceleration times and faster, smoother gear changes.
The PDK system accommodates the US market because speed and performance get enhanced. And they still have the option to switch to manual.
For everyday driving, PDK is lighter on gas, smoother and quieter. And as one man so eloquently put it, “I can drive in manual and my wife can use PDK, happy wife, happy life”. Archaic, but there you have it.
But even though Americans, in general, prefer automatic, when it comes to Porsche purists, you cannot convince them that PDK trumps manual. But over 80% of all Porsches are now PDK. This is, in part, to meet strict emissions regulations. PDK lowers fuel consumption. And the power, speed, and performance are enhanced with the PDK system.
What is the difference between automatic and manual transmission?
The most basic difference is that with a manual transmission the driver uses a stick and a clutch pedal to shift the gears.
Automatic transmission relieves the driver of this task. Shifting gears is done with hydraulics, or electronically. Instead of the shift stick and clutch, the gear change is done with the aid of two mounted paddles or a set of buttons on the steering (dual-clutch).
With a manual, when the clutch is engaged, the power to the transmission is momentarily cut off to prevent damaging transmission.
But in the dual-clutch system, this process is altered. Gears can be changed without taking your foot off the accelerator. Gear changes take place faster and enable higher acceleration.
Manual systems may be preferred for sentimental reasons. And no doubt, for a specific type of driving experience, the manual cannot be duplicated.
But with automatic transmission, you get a smoother ride. A faster ride. A more fuel-efficient ride.
Purists and petrolheads alike get a certain thrill from the roar of powerful, internal combustion engines. But it is a small sacrifice to make in terms of, well, everything!
Speed, torque, horsepower, rangeability, fuel consumption, maintenance, ease of handling. These all keep improving. With every adaptation or new technology that they master, Porsche continues to innovate.
Bear in mind though, the Porsche manual transmission system is pretty spectacular.
Porsche created the modern cone system in manual transmissions (1952 – Porsche 356). And, although not first, the Porsche 911 (2012), was fitted with a 7-speed manual transmission. It was, however, a first among cars of the same class.
Today Porsche offers a PDK option, in almost all models previously fitted with a manual. Manual transmission classics, like the 718 Carrera and the 718 Boxster, can also be installed with the Sport Chrono package, which adds torque and speed.
Tiptronic transmission (Cayennes) is the third option and brings new dimensions to driving.
Advantages of automatic transmissions include:
- Seamless gear shifting – added ease
- Faster gear changes – improved acceleration
- Better fuel consumption – more economical
- Less maintenance – depending on the model
Porsche continues to beat its own records. They have options to suit Americans, who may prefer automatic transmissions and purists who prefer manual.
You cannot argue with the facts. Power, performance and the overall experience of driving a Porsche remains top class (and mind-blowing). They cater to all preferences and, in doing so, continue to push boundaries that keep Porsche fanatics coming back for more.