- The clearly labelled 'PDK' Gear lever.

Which 911 transmission to go for?

PDK, Tiptronic or Manual? (Choosing your Porsche - part 3)

3y ago

Right! So we've chosen our generation (I think)

We've looked at whether we should get a Carrera 2, 2S, 4 or 4S...

But there's STILL so much to decide!

The next, key decision is which transmission to go for. There are three options available for the 997, each with very different characteristics.


The driver's choice, is always the manual. Generally they say the Porsche 911, 6 speed box found in the 997 is SWEET! It's a slick, satisfying box with a chunky, heavy clutch, with a real sportscar feel. For feel and satisfaction, the manual should be up there. However, Porsche being Porsche have muddied the waters with their PDK box. The downside of the manual is it's a heavy clutch so you might not be able to let your wife drive it. (I'm not sure I want to lend my 911 to the present Mrs. Stanley, so this might be a non-issue.) The other spanner in the works is the PDK (Which I'll come to in a minute.) An advantage is that you can get a pre-2009, 997 with a manual and it'll be a nice drive.


The first automatic 997s had what Porsche called the Tiptronic. It sounds quite fancy but the technology is basically a heavily refined version of the ancient, crappy torque-converter style auto box. As a torque converter goes, it's pretty good. Better than most. But the changes can be slow and the torque converter can rob you of power, sometimes at inconvenient times. It'll never be as satisfying to drive as the manual, or as brutally efficient as the PDK. The only advantages are you CAN lend it to your wife, and it might be cheaper and easier to find than a PDK or manual. It's basically flying economy class. You don't want it, you don't aspire to it, but you'll take it if you can't afford 1st class and Business class is full.


Now the Tiptronic is an auto that can behave like a manual. (You can choose a gear) But the PDK is the opposite way around. It's more like a manual that can behave like an auto - choosing your gear for you. It actually stands for Porsche Doppelkupplung and is a dual clutch transmission. The box has two shafts, with opposing gears on opposite shafts. So 1st, 3rd, 5th on one and 2nd 4th and 6th on the other. Plus reverse on one of them of course! The PDK looks like a an automatic gearbox with paddles, but it doesn't feel like one or work like one. The C02 missions and efficiency are way better than the Tiptronic, and possibly even better than the manual. The people who love this gearbox describe it as telepathic, knowing which gear you want before YOU do! It also instantly rev-matches every time you change a gear, giving you a really seamless, smooth, quick shift. If you were taking on the Nurburgring, you'd choose the PDK.

The problem is seeing as whenever I'm in Germany I'm either in a dull-as-wallpapering hire car or a diesel people carrier with my kids and the present Mrs. Stanley... Taking on the Nurburgring outside of Forza 5 seems unlikely. Yes, the PDK is savagely efficient, slick, smooth and rapid on a whole other level... But does that make it too good?

Let me refer you to another car I keep thinking I could get - the Audi RS3 Quattro. It's a staggeringly quick car with an impressive AWD system and great gearbox. But people say it's TOO good, it's TOO efficient. It almost does all the driving for you and ends up feeling sterile and unengaging. (Bit like some of my more boring articles.)

Do I want that out of a Porsche? A car I'd really be buying for driver enjoyment over practicality and fuel economy. Probably not. Plus, going for PDK means going for a 2009 or later and that essentially adds £10k to the minimum spend.


On this aspect, it's pretty simple at first glance. Don't get a Tiptronic, because compared to the other options it's basically a dog. However choosing between manual and PDK is NOT so easy. They are both fantastic options, and both give you a different advantage (or disadvantage if you are morally opposed to letting your wife drive your Porsche.) My gut actually tells me to be open minded about this one. Drive both, if I drive a low mileage pre 2009, maybe that's not bad option. If I drive a post 2008 PDK and fall in love with it... Well, maybe it's time to remortgage...

So which do YOU think I should go for?

Martyn Stanley

#Porsche #911 #Porsche911 #Gearbox #Transmission #BuyingGuide #Story

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Comments (30)

  • In my opinion you cannot go wrong with the PDK, the Manual is sometimes more fun. In my opinion the tiptronic feels a little dated (just like the 7 speed Mercedes box)

      3 years ago
    • So you think the PDK, for general all-around usefulness? I've never driven one, but in You Tube clips the changes in the PDK seem amazing.

        3 years ago
    • The PDK is the best gearbox of any car I’ve been in (for track and general use), but Porsche manuals are great for adding that extra bit of driver involvement

        3 years ago
  • I'm surprised, but gratified to see that nobody has voted to 'skip the 911 and get that boring RS3'!

      3 years ago
  • You should try both, do the math, then decide. For me, it would be the manual, both for financial reasons and because I prefer three pedals, but only you can make that call. (I'd also be looking at a 993 C4 or C4S, but I'm sure the 997 is superior in almost every way. I'm just a nostalgic idiot who still lusts after a car I couldn't afford as a teenager and can't in my 40s, either!)

      3 years ago
  • I drive a manual 997 Carrera S Coupe. There are few occasions on the road when you can really enjoy the benefits of a manual. On track, a PDK would allow more time to focus on line and braking. I’d take a PDK next time unless I could afford an air cooled Porsche.

      3 years ago
    • You mean a 993 or a 964? So you'd really go for a PDK? If you could only a afford a sub 2009 car, would you go Tiptronic or Manual?

        3 years ago
  • I’ve driven a PDK Turbo S and it was astonishing! I think it depends on what 911 you’re going for. A manual for a Carerra T or GT3 would be amazing but a PDK for a Carerra S etc. would be more fitting. Ultimately though, it’s all down to your preference.

      3 years ago
    • Hmmm, maybe I need to drive both. It won't be a trackday car, it'll be a daily driver. It would be nice to have a car the wife can drive, she hated the heavy clutch on the Jag and the Focus ST, but she always hates driving my cars... Except my old MX5!...

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        3 years ago
    • You’d probably have to get her to get drive it also. The clutches in 911s are very different to any other car - most people love it - even as a daily! I’ve drove a manual Cayman GT4 last year and it was brilliant - but on a twisty road for 3/4 hours,...

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        3 years ago