Porsche PDK gearbox: five years on

The Porsche Doppelkupplung PDK gearbox is five years old, and is now your only transmission choice in the 911 GT3

Porsche is celebrating five years of its PDK twin-clutch gearbox. Porsche Doppelkupplung – to give it its full title – launched in the second-gen 997 Carrera in 2008, replacing the Tiptronic automatic with claims of 60 per cent faster gearshifts as well as reduced fuel consumption. It’s now the majority seller, making it into more than three quarters of Porsches sold in some model ranges. The seven-speed PDK transmission works like other twin-clutch gearboxes; one clutch operates odd-numbered gears and reverse, while another deals with the even-numbered gears. The theory is the next possible gear is always primed and ready, with shift speeds quicker than 100ms possible. Top speed can be reached in sixth gear, with seventh designed for conserving fuel. It didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, at least in our opinion. It launched with rocker switches on the front of the steering wheel which proved far less intuitive than the paddles that sit behind the ‘wheels of rivals. As a result, it picked up the ‘Turkey of the Year’ title in our 2008 Car of the Year issue. The optional extra of more traditional paddles has since improved the PDK experience, which can now by specified in every Porsche except the Cayenne – Boxster, Cayman, Panamera and new 991-generation 911. Most controversial, though, is the new 911 GT3. Always the 911 most focused on driving thrills – and therefore an evo Car of the Year stalwart, picking up the award five times – it will not have the option of a manual gearbox when the 991-gen GT3 launches later in 2013. There are tweaks – shorter gearing means seventh isn’t just for massaging mpg, while grabbing both paddle shifters together instigates a ‘clutch kick’ – but a number performance car die-hards are up in arms. See Porsche’s response in our exclusive 911 GT3 video, below…

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