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2021 Porsche 718 Spyder, Cayman GT4 and GTS 4.0 are all quicker with the PDK gearbox

But the performance improvements come at a cost.

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
The Cayman GT4 is one of Porsche's best sports cars.
Jonathan Harper/Roadshow

Back in June, Porsche announced a number of updates for the 2021 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman lineup, not the least of which is a PDK dual-clutch transmission option for the hot-hot-hot 718 Spyder, Cayman GT4 and GTS 4.0 models. Porsche's PDK is one of the best DCT gearboxes around and according to new information released Monday, fitting this transmission to these 718 models results in a number of performance improvements.

The main reason to opt for a PDK transmission instead of a tried-and-true six-speed manual? It's quicker. The dual-clutch 'box can swap cogs faster than you can -- no matter how skilled you are -- and it allows the 4.0-liter flat-six engine to stay in the heart of its powerband. Across the board, the PDK-equipped cars are half a second quicker when accelerating to 60 mph. In the 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS 4.0, this means a 0-to-60 time of 3.8 seconds instead of 4.3. For the 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4, 4.2 seconds drops to 3.7.

While not directly responsible for the improved 0-to-60 times, another benefit of the PDK transmission is that it allows the cars' 4.0-liter engine to produce slightly more torque. All PDK cars get an increase of 8 lb-ft, for 317 total.

PDK in a GT4? Hmm...


In the 718 GTS 4.0 models, adding PDK means you also get Porsche's Sport Response function. Located in the center of the drive mode selector, pressing this button puts the powertrain into full attack for up to 20 seconds. Think of it as a boost-mode push-to-pass feature. It's very cool.

Other fun details: Porsche says that with the PDK, the limited-slip differential on the 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4 operates with higher locking values than with the manual gearbox. All of the new 718 PDK models have a shorter seventh-gear ratio than their manual-transmission equivalents, too.

But it's not all good news. If you want the PDK gearbox, you'll have to pay for the privilege. On the Boxster and Cayman GTS 4.0 models, it's a $3,730 upcharge. For the 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4, it's $3,210.

The larger thing to consider, however, is what you lose by adding the PDK: driver engagement. The six-speed manual transmission in these 718 models is one of the best do-it-yourself gearboxes in the world. Sure, the PDK models are quicker, but does half a second of acceleration really make a noticeable difference in the real world? For buyers who track their cars -- this likely applies to the Cayman GT4 more than the others -- the quicker-shifting PDK option could be a good thing and I can see it being beneficial in a race setting. This also makes these 718 models more accessible to folks who either can't or don't want to drive a stick-shift, which is important to consider.

Me, though? I'll stick with the manual.

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