Resistance Movement - 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet Long-Term Road Test
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2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet Long-Term Road Test

2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet: Resistance Movement

December 30, 2013

2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet

I admit, I sorta mock other publications when they occasionally sound the alarm for the endangered manual transmission. "Save the Manuals," they exclaim, with a cute graphic and some melancholy rumination about the slow death of the three-pedal box. Mercedes and Google will have us in autonomous cars within 10 years. These quaint protests are sweeping the tide with a broom.

They have a point, of course. I'm even willing to sign on to a national referendum that requires certain automakers to offer specific models with a manual in perpetuity. If our country is indeed headed toward socialism, as many breathless, agitated minds believe, than I say this is an acceptable use of government power. The GT500, Corvette, M3/M4, and Miata, for example, should always offer ways for your right hand and left foot to collaborate.

But if we are in fact on the MT deathwatch, then Porsche's PDK is a fine solution. The paddles are great in heavy traffic. Grabbing a solid metal flap with a few fingertips is sometimes all the effort you're willing to muster when lurching along at 10 mph. But when the road is open, I prefer the shifter. For its function, the 911's stalk feels superb, a short, taut upward flick of the palm or downward finger-snap, met with nice, weighted resistance. I can imagine Porsche engineers obsessing over the damping force, one that you rarely find in almost any automatic with manual control. Most move with a hollow, empty click with indistinct range of motion.

Not the 911's. Jefferson would have approved, I'm certain.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor


Comments

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Automatics really are more convenient, especially if you deal with heavy traffic regularly. For me however, those inconveniences help me cope when life is too boring. Nothing like a stall to bring you out of a daze (along with a muttered word and a red face). Clutch action and perfect, well timed shifts to remind you that you control the machine. It makes you think, makes you feel. You need to wake up, analyze the traffic so that the car isn't caught flat footed if you need to accelerate. Its one thing to have conveniences so that you have more time for the things that you enjoy, but taking away from the things you enjoy for the sake of convenience isn't going to happen, not for me at least.

  • rakekniven rakekniven Posts:

    The PDK is a fantastic transmission, but the shifter is backwards. It should be pull to upshift and push to downshift. Porsche finally fixed it on the GT3, but all of their other cars still have it wrong.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    I think if you're looking for lurch-free operation in stop-and-go traffic, any of the dual-clutch automated manuals are not the way to go. I've driven the PDK and the DSG, which are the best of their type, and they're no match for a well-driven manual or a torque-converter automatic in these driving conditions.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    @fordson1 thanks. I keep reading about the lurching and that would drive me nuts.

  • dloop dloop Posts:

    My, my. What has the world come to. A so-called auto enthusiast longing for an automatic transmission. Shame, shame, shame! If I want a comfortable commute I will drive my F150! A 911 can't touch it for commuting comfort or safety, but by golly when the road beckons and I want spirited driving, whatever I am driving (even if it is a Chevette, Trabant, Yugo or a Marathon) it had better have a stick!

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    You're welcome, noburgers. The only other car in the LT fleet that might be worse than this one in that sense is the CLA250. There is a post from back on the 19th decrying this very tendency on the part of its dual-clutch automanual. You know, I took a look at some of the back posts for this Carrera, and Jkav back in February said wow - the PDK does this heavy traffic stuff just great...but then on May 13 he finally 'fesses up and admits it's kinda herky-jerky. Magrath said in April that when he had been driving it in stop-and-go for awhile (midtown Manhattan), the tranny heated up and got really bad, and they had to cool it off for awhile before it got better. Automanuals like this are great for 90% of all conditions, but not heavy stop-and-go.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    I wonder what it is about a DCT that makes it rough at slower speeds. I would say that it seems to be a hard, fast shift in combination with the driver changing his acceleration, or even deceleration, that results in this situation. Appropriate programing seems to help, as does better execution; but as you mentioned, fordson1, even the best of examples seem to suffer from this characteristic. I need to see if I can find some light reading on the subject.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    quadricycle, think about how you use a clutch and throttle in normal driving...when moving up and down through the gears, you disengage while dropping throttle, re-engage while picking up throttle. That's easy for the computer brain to do in a DCT. Matching revs while downshifting is even pretty easy for it to do. Now think about how you use a clutch and throttle when you're in stop-and-go...much more dancing around on the pedals, and much more of the SMOOTH operation of shifter, clutch and throttle depend upon you knowing ahead of time...by a few seconds...what you want to do or need to do next. The DCT will never have that ability. You are decelerating gently from 10 mph to 3 mph to avoid following too closely, and you see that you will have to accelerate again to 7 mph after that to maintain your station in traffic. With the DCT, it thinks you are coming to a stop, and as you hit 3 mph, it disengages, and then as you go to accelerate again, it has to re-engage again. Rev...slip...then at 7 mph, it shifts into second, but then you are slowing down again, so now it bogs and has to downshift...etc. You would just keep it in first, clutch engaged, throughout, because you can see what's going on.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    That's a good explanation, thank you. It sounds like using manual mode or increasing following distances should help to smooth out the shifts in heavy traffic. Of course, those in more densely populated areas than I may not look so kindly on leaving a large space in front of them while crawling along their commute.

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