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Car and Driver: Porsche Committed to Manual Transmissions “For As Long As Possible”

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Manual gearboxes no longer make much rational sense for sportscar makers. Dual-clutch transmissions, or even well-sorted conventional automatics, can shift gears quicker and return better fuel economy. And as driver-assistance systems get closer to full autonomy, cars so equipped will increasingly need to also exercise control over ratio selection. Hence the depressing trend of the declining number of stick-equipped sportscars.

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That’s not going to be the case at Porsche, however, with the company acknowledging that manual gearboxes still have an emotional appeal that far outweighs their technical limitations. Erhard Mössle, Porsche’s engineering boss for the 911 Turbo, Carrera 4 and Targa, was happy to reassure us that we’ll be seeing manual-equipped 911s for the foreseeable future.

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“It’s a unique selling proposition for Porsche to have a manual in the 911 range, and I think we will fight for that as long as possible,” he told us. “Even if it’s only 10 percent of the market, it’s important for some customers and for some markets, especially the U.S, to have that kind of gearbox.”

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At the moment 85 percent of Porsche’s global 911 production comes equipped with the PDK automatic, although that figure is trending downwards compared to last year. But Mössle insists that, for as long as any sizable number of 911 customers want to buy a stick-equipped 911, the company will continue to offer one, a commitment that seemingly extends to Porsche’s other sportscar offerings.

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“What we learned from the last two years with the Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spider is that it’s not only a discussion of lap times, but also of emotion, of being fun to drive,” Mössle said. “Even if the car is not the fastest, it is fun to drive with a manual. Of course the PDK is faster, but a lot of customer want to change gear by themselves. Therefore I think we should keep it, for the next generation also.”

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With the next-gen 911 not coming due until 2020 that means, by our math, we should have a manual version available until at least 2028 or thereabouts.

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