All motor, all manual
Porsche makes the extremely desirable GT3 even more so—by making you work.
Arguably, Porsche makes the best double-clutch transmissions in the world.
Its PDK system (Porsche Doppelkupplung) is better and consistently more accurate than any human driver could hope it to be.
The PDK system is also an increasingly important part of the safety, traction, efficiency, and vehicle dynamics systems that control modern cars.
It is insanely good at what it does, and makes any driver look better at the helm than most of the best drivers from a few decades ago.
So how does it make sense that one of the most eagerly-awaited 911s uses Porsche’s most powerful non-turbocharged engine as a base—and then adds a manual instead?
True Stuttgart cognoscenti jumped at the chance to have this combination of all-motor power and palm-stirring shifter.
The Porsche 911 GT3 line has always been heavily skewed towards performance. Appropriate, since it takes its name from the GT3 racing class.
So cars like this would benefit most from the slick PDK shifters. Yet the collectors want the manual and are willing to pay for it. Plus they get to have the car without the huge wing on the rear, the one designed to keep you on the ground if you go too fast.
How does this all make sense?
We had just spent a day running the Uber-hot 911 GT3 RS model on the Grand Prix circuit at Nurburgring (thats for another article), and had an extra day to play.
The GT3 RS is pure PDK. It has to be with what you are able to do with the car.
Our chariot of choice for driving around German wine country, though, was the GT3 Touring Package.
This car got more attention than the 911 GT2 RS at the last Frankfurt Motor Show. It ticks all the enthusiast boxes—massively powerful motor, manual six-speed gearbox, nice leather interior, no rear wing.
And as grateful as we are for that big rear wing when we try and keep speed going on fast racetrack corners, the first thing we said when we saw the wingless GT3 Touring Package was… wow, now that’s a pretty car.
The pretty car was a sedate grey (a far cry from the Lizard Green and Bright Yellow of the RS we were ripping around with the day before), and yes, it did have a little rear wing—a variable rear spoiler, similar to that on the 911 Carrera.
The motor, though, is pure GT3. Four liters of normally-aspirated goodness that also does duty in the 911 RSR and 911 GT3 Cup race cars.
Here, it produces 500 horsepower and 460 Nm of torque. It can reach a hundred kilometers an hour from a standing start in 3.9 seconds if you get your shifts right. Which takes practice.
Touring Package. Yeah, right.
The name Touring Package is actually somewhat historic, as almost everything is with Porsche.
It was first used for an equipment variant of the 911 Carrera RS in 1973, so it has pretty much been associated with serious speed from day one.
The modern Touring Package uses a nice and subdued leather and cloth combination for the seats, and actual door handles.
In the RS you get alcantara, carbon fiber, and fabric door pulls. Other than that, you can pretty much spec up the car as you wish.
How does it run? First of all, the manual transmission is wonderful, but you need to know that this is not the transmission you’ve known and loved from generations ago.
You don’t feel solid metal-to-metal clicks and clunks. And you better remember how to make smooth gear shifts, or you will curse yourself.
Having said that, it is an awesome feeling to run this engine up to its 9,000 rpm redline while shifting by hand. You do feel more connected to the car, no question.
Honestly, though, you would be faster with the paddles of the PDK. So, it comes down to what you want.
I love the romantic idea of manual shifters and clutch pedals. I also remember having to master sequential gearshifts with paddles on purpose-built racecars—and there is true romance there as well.
The PDKs are kind of in the middle somewhere, so is this manual shifter. The difference is that the PDK is truly at the very top.
What else? The Touring Package GT3 is a very pleasant Grand Tourer. It is seriously quick around corners, and extremely stable on long curves and straights.
Rear axle steering helps at speeds normal or insane. And yes, its a manual but Porsche still has systems that help you play.
Gear ratios are chosen to match what is basically a race engine, but one that still allows it to be usable on the road.
You get blips when you downshift. You can still activate “Sport” mode to allow faster synchronization.
So yes, this is a purist car, but purist in the modern sense—purity but with Porsche Motorsports heritage behind it.
Want something even more purist? Something that truly grabbed us by complete surprise? Stay tuned.