2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet: Resistance Movement
December 30, 2013
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