Manual vs PDK: Porsche 991 C2S head-to-head

The pro manual viewpoint by Josh Barnett

Despite my relative youth, when it comes to driving I like to think I fall firmly into the ‘traditionalist’ category; a recent car purchase sees me driving around in something bereft of power steering, anti-locking brakes or any form of electronic driver control.

Therefore, as our day gets underway at Porsche GB’s headquarters in Reading, I’m happy for Lee to take the manual 991 Carrera C2S first, confident that I won’t need any further convincing of the analogue sports car’s charms.

The dual carriageway journey towards the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone vindicates my decision, as the Racing Yellow PDK variant proves unremarkable and I remain indifferent towards the concept, although the largely uneventful stretches of tarmac wouldn’t show the manual off to its best either.

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Arriving at the Porsche Experience Centre, I decide to start with the PDK 911; despite racing at Silverstone numerous times, I’ve never driven the one-kilometre PEC circuit before.

I tell Lee that it’s because the PDK car is already set up with my driving position but, the reality is that I’ve chosen it first because I want to get to grips with the tarmac before really enjoying myself in my preferred choice: the manual.

The pro PDK viewpoint by Lee Sibley

I’m not against manual transmission, and in all but a few scenarios I prefer the concept over an automatic or semi-automatic contemporary.

In fact, my own sports Coupe has a manual gearbox (in preference to the semi-auto option) with six forward gears, and I delight in the sensation of controlling how its 343bhp is transmitted to the rear wheels exclusively via my own driving intelligence.

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I’ve always found manual transmission on a Porsche 911 to be a key part of its sporting charisma through the generations, and I’ve revelled in the direct and positive throw between gears in the model’s five and then six-speed ‘boxes – something the 991’s seven-speed setup just can’t live up to.

Starting my test in the manual, its shortcomings are showcased as I negotiate the traffic-laden public roads across Oxfordshire en route to Silverstone. Forced by my environment to flit between gears quickly and often, it doesn’t take long before I find the process laborious and, on occasion, tricky.

Despite the relatively short throw, having gears one, three, five and seven up top, plus reverse, presents a headache, and in situ there are isolated occasions when on disengaging seventh, the shifter will slip at the gate into third instead of fifth, resulting in the car lurching uncomfortably forward.

To read Josh and Lee’s full reviews of both Porsche 991 gearbox choices, check out our comprehensive PDK vs Manual track-and-road test in Total 911 issue 113, available to order online or to download immediately.

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Comments (1)

  • Ryan Zaninovich

    I know this article is dated, but come on man. You say the gears are tight in situ evidenced by the fact you downshifted from 7th to 3rd on accident. In what “situ” are you using 7th on city streets? The only time I have ever used it was going 90 on the highway and even then it wasn’t really needed. Nice fuel economy option though. When downshifting from 7th on the highway I find I have plenty of time to make sure the next gear is selected accurately.