Track Tested: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK vs. 7-Speed Manual


2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK vs. 7-Speed Manual

Just a few short years ago the choice between a manual transmission and an automatic transmission was one between a real driver's car and an appliance to get you from A to B.

That line started to blur with single-clutch auto-manuals, which were nearly as obedient as true manuals while still offering the ease of an automatic. Those transmissions have been refined and tweaked with faster shift times, smoother engagement and in some cases, a second clutch to pre-stage the next gear, reducing the shift time even more. Even Porsche now claims that the automatic is faster than the manual on the new 991 911 Carrera S. By a lot.

We've finally got our hands on the seven-speed PDK version of the new 911. How does it stack up against the seven-speed manual? And even if it is faster, are we ready to admit that an automatic — even the advanced PDK — can be in a driver's car?

2012 Porsche 911 7MT 2012 Porsche 911 PDK
0-30 (sec.): 1.9 1.5
0-45 (sec.): 3.0 2.6
0-60 (sec.): 4.6 3.9
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 4.4 3.7
0-75 (sec.): 6.3 5.5
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 12.7 @ 113.2 12.0 @ 116.5
30-0 (ft): 25 25
60-0 (ft): 102 98
Skid pad lateral accel (g): 1.04 1.03
Slalom: 71.3 71.4

2012 Porsche 911 PDK

Vehicle: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK
Odometer: 3,905
Date: 1/31/2012
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $126,750

Specifications:
Drive Type: Rear engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Seven-speed auto-clutch manual
Engine Type: Direct-injected, DOHC, 3.8-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,800/232
Redline (rpm): 7,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 394 @ 7,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 325 @ 5,600
Brake Type (front): 13.4-inch ventilated and cross-drilled carbon-ceramic discs with six-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13-inch ventilated and cross-drilled carbon-ceramic rotors with four-piston fixed calipers
Steering System: Electric-assist, speed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Modified MacPherson strut, coil springs, electrically adjustable dampers, active stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink, coil springs, electrically adjustable dampers, active stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/35ZR20 91Y
Tire Size (rear): 295/30ZR20 101Y
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: P Zero Nero
Tire Type: Summer, asymmetrical
Wheel size: 20-by-8.5 inches front, 20-by-11 inches rear
Wheel material (front/rear): Aluminum alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,332 (38.5% front)

Test Results:

Acceleration:
0-30 (sec): 1.5 (2.2 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 2.6 (3.4 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 3.9 (4.9 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 3.7 (4.5 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 5.5 (6.5 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 12.0 @ 116.5 (12.7 @ 113.3 w/ TC on)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 25
60-0 (ft): 98

Handling:
Slalom (mph): 71.4 (71.0 w/ ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 1.03 (1.03 w/ ESC on)

Sound:
Db @ Idle: 49.2
Db @ Full Throttle: 89.2 (94.2 with sport exhaust button activated)
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 73.2
RPM @ 70 mph: 1,900

Tester's comments:

Acceleration: Press the Sport Plus button, left foot on brake, right foot to the floor in Drive and launch control gets activated, bringing the revs to 6,500 rpm. Then it drops the clutch and the 911 just takes off without any fuss and zero wheelspin, but way quicker than the seven-speed manual. In D or M the PDK shifts for you when at full throttle. In launch control mode, shifts are ultra-quick and abrupt, shifts at redline. Manual shifting is via steering wheel paddles. Blips throttle on downshifts, will hold gears to rev limiter as long as not at full throttle.

Braking: Ultra-short stopping distances and very consistent. Stops are incredibly stable, near zero nosedive and zero wiggle. Firm pedal, no fade. First stop was 102 feet, which was also the longest. Shortest stop was the third at 98 feet.

Slalom: Very precise steering, excellent suspension tuning and good grip from the tires. It flicks around the cones with ease and feels very natural. Changes direction very well. Could get significant oversteer at slalom exit, but controllable. Stability system wasn't intrusive, actually, more helpful than hindering by cutting throttle slightly near the same point I would.

Skid pad: As Walton noted in his test of the seven-speed-manual 911, you steer this car with the throttle around the skid pad more than any car I've ever driven. It's a terrific sensation: car feels so very capable and controllable. And the grip is over 1G. And this is just a "regular" 911.

2012 Porsche 911 7MT

Vehicle: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S
Odometer: 4,593
Date: 11/20/11
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $104,935 (estimated)

Specifications:
Drive Type: Rear engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Seven-speed manual
Engine Type: Direct-injected, DOHC, 3.8-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,800/232
Redline (rpm): 7,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 394 @ 7,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 325 @ 5,600
Brake Type (front): 13.4-inch ventilated and cross-drilled rotors with six-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13-inch ventilated and cross-drilled rotrs with four-piston fixed calipers
Steering System: Electric-assist, speed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Modified MacPherson strut, coil springs, electrically adjustable dampers, active stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink, coil springs, electrically adjustable dampers, active stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/35ZR20 91Y
Tire Size (rear): 295/30ZR20 101Y
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: P Zero Nero
Tire Type: Summer, asymmetrical
Wheel size: 20-by-8.5 inches front, 20-by-11 inches rear
Wheel material (front/rear): Aluminum alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,277 (38.8% front/61.2% rear)

Test Results:

Acceleration:
0-30 (sec): 1.9 (2.2 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.0 (3.3 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 4.6 (5.0 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.4 (4.6 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 6.3 (6.5 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 12.7 @ 113.2 (13.0 @ 111.7 w/ TC on)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 25
60-0 (ft): 102

Handling:
Slalom (mph): 71.3 (70.3 w/ ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 1.04 (1.03 w/ ESC on)

Sound:
Db @ Idle: 47.6
Db @ Full Throttle: 92.8 (93.7 with sport exhaust button activated)
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 68.4
RPM @ 70 mph: 2,100

Tester's comments:

Acceleration: Biggest news here is that the 911 no longer produces its trademark axle-hopping launch. Instead, it merely hazed the rear tires and resisted bogging down the engine once the tires hooked up. Shifter feels a little vague in that I rarely trusted my 2-3 shift, yet it always went in. Tall gearing — needed 3rd for quarter-mile. (All runs in Sport Plus with exhaust open.) Also felt some sort of shift-shock reduction with each upshift that wouldn't allow chirp. Shifts were smooth but slightly delayed.

Braking: Medium-firm pedal with moderate jump-in, but amazing power and effectiveness toward the end of the stop. Very little dive (firm suspension setting), no wiggle, and distances grew shorter with some heat in the brakes. No fade at all.

Slalom: Quick turn-in but a small delay in yaw reaction. Tracks very true to steering input but requires a little patience for the chassis to catch up. Never felt threatening or apt to spin — even with drop-throttle. Had to be prudent with throttle at exit, but it sure feels like there's an LSD back there making sure all the power is used effectively.

Skid pad: One of a handful of cars that oversteers comfortably, confidently, precisely all the way around the circle. Steering weight comes and goes with front grip level, but the graininess/feel is no longer there. I could steer with the throttle all the way around.

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