991.2 GT3: Manual v PDK
How does a change in transmission choice alter the driving experience of Porsche’s latest GT3? Total 911 pits a manual Touring against a Comfort-spec with PDK
Is there more to the latest GT3’S make-up than a mere change in transmission?
When it comes to its beloved Neunelfer, Porsche has continuously proved, speaking here in automotive realms, that there are many ways to skin a cat. After all, walking into a dealership and asking to buy a 911 is as ambiguous as walking into a boutique and merely asking to buy ‘a shirt’. What size, material, fit and colour would you like? There are many options to be had, many choices to make. In the case of the current 911, there are 24 different models in the 991.2 generation alone. You might narrow it down to a GTS, but would you like drive via two or four wheels, and in Coupe, Cabriolet or Targa body style? How about a 911 Turbo: would you like your Turbo in ‘S’ spec, with or without a convertible top? Even Porsche’s GT3 is now available in three guises, these being Touring, Comfort or Clubsport spec, the former billed as boasting a greater road bias, the latter more track oriented, and the Comfort model supposedly somewhere in between. So just how different are they? Our ride out from the UK to the Guards red Touring in Belgium is a Comfort-spec GT3 in GT Silver, affording us an opportunity to compare apples with apples between these 991.2-generation cars. A visual observation reveals two key differences between them: one has a fixed wing and semi-automatic PDK transmission, while the other sports a more traditional flatback design and H-pattern manual shifter. But does the very make-up of these two GT3S go beyond that? In short, yes. These both offer very different takes on Porsche’s GT3 moniker, with meticulous optimisation carried out to better serve the precise purpose for which they are intended. The Touring’s six-speed manual gearbox offers an engaging drive on the public road, its throw short and direct, its clutch pedal unexpectedly light. Gear ratios are longer than the Pdkequipped Comfort, which provides instantaneous shifts using the beautifully weighted aluminium paddles mounted just behind its steering wheel. In theory, the clinical aspect of PDK should provide greater intensity to the driving experience, yet the reality is on a speedrestricted public road, this only lasts a matter of seconds, whereas the Touring’s re-introduction of a third pedal gives the driver an additional focus point for much longer periods. Unsurprisingly, the Touring is noticeably softer than the Comfort, its more pronounced body roll the result of revised spring rates more suitable for the lumps and bumps of a public road. That’s not to say the Comfort is too stiff for anything but the snooker table-like surface of a race track, because it’s not, but whereas the Comfort displays an eagerness to stay glued to the road’s surface, the Touring’s chassis has a greater tendency to move around beneath you. This is especially evident at speeds above 100mph, where aero comes into play. Bizarrely it’s the Touring which is the louder of the two from inside, as it has had more sound deadening removed. This is something of an error in judgement from Porsche – it should surely be the track-oriented Comfort which benefits from the most sound deadening being removed in a bid to further reduce its weight. While this does unquestionably make the Touring’s driving experience more visceral by comparison, there comes with it a caveat in that the car displays a tendency to emit a reverberating engine drone into the cabin at cruising speed (just under 4,000rpm in sixth gear). Not ideal for a car built to drive to the Alps, tour around it and then drive home again. Conversely the Comfort car’s acoustics are entirely more palatable over medium to long distances. There are further, minute differences too. The Touring sits marginally higher (we estimate by 5mm) and Porsche tells us the flatback car even gets its own unique wiring loom. Not sure which transmission to spec in your 991.2 GT3? It appears there’s far more to consider besides how you’d like to shift your gears.