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The Manual Porsche 911 GTS Is a Reminder to Shut Up and Drive

Driver engagement is the name of the game, and the manual GTS delivers an impressive return on investment.

2022 Porsche 911 GTS
The inadvertent panda-print combo of white paint and black trim looks great, but you're not thinking about aesthetics once behind the wheel.
Andrew Krok/CNET

The Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK, if you need to save some time) is one of the best dual-clutch transmissions on the market. It's blisteringly quick, but it's not so violent that around-town driving feels onerous. But PDK isn't the only transmission Porsche offers in the 911. There's also a seven-speed manual, and after a week with one in a 2022 911 GTS, I am firm in my belief that this 911 variant is utterly perfect when paired with a stick.

The GTS occupies a sweet spot in the 911 lineup, offering a heapin' helpin' of performance beyond the standard Carrera without reaching the outright batshit performance envelope of the Turbo or GT3. Every GTS wields a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged flat-6 gas engine producing 473 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. The GTS has less sound-deadening material than the Carrera S, and it borrows its larger brakes from the peppier Turbo. The Sport Chrono package (which adds a dash-mounted chronograph, active engine mounts, a steering-wheel mode switch and a sportier stability-control setting) is standard, as is Porsche's PASM Sport suspension, which drops the ride height by 10 millimeters.

The wheels -- borrowed from the 911 Turbo S -- have motorsport-derived center locks, and a standard sport exhaust keeps things nice and loud. There's an optional Lightweight Package that brings the curb weight down another 55 pounds by shedding the rear "seats" and equipping thinner glass, but my tester lacks that -- not like it's necessary, anyway.

The result is one hell of a mutt. My senses are constantly heightened. The steering offers the right weight and some honest feedback. The body itself feels like it's glued to the pavement, with minimal roll and oodles of grip coming from the Pirelli P Zero summer tires. The ride is… a bit harsh for Michigan roads, even without the PASM Sport setup switched to its stiffer setting, but it's easy to forget about my back when I have an excellent six-pot soundtrack assaulting my ears.

And that brings me to the manual. Hot damn, this stick is good. The lever offers the right amount of throw, and each gate offers a satisfying snick on each shift. The clutch pedal is nicely weighted, with a predictable take-up point and the ability to be absolutely manhandled if I'm feeling like a hooligan. The pedals are well-spaced for heel-toe action, but if the floor-hinged accelerator doesn't jibe with your footwork, Sport and Sport Plus modes offer extremely accurate rev-matching downshifts that, unlike many other automakers, extends to first gear. It's the kind of manual transmission that leaves me wanting to shift more than is necessary, and considering how tall the gears are, I very well could leave the GTS in third or fourth in spirited driving without any concern.

Automakers the world over could learn a thing or two from this stick shift. It's about as perfect as one can be.

Andrew Krok/CNET

There's something so immensely satisfying about really getting into it with the 911 GTS. My body is receiving sensory inputs from every corner of the car, requiring my brain to fire on all cylinders, but it's not so intense that it feels truly overwhelming. It's easy to get into a zone where it's just me, my hands, my feet and the road ahead. And it just feels right to be rowing my own in this car. The manual transmission means driving engagement is prioritized higher than anything else, and that's the whole point on a trim like the GTS.

And that's where the difference lies. A more traditional variant like the Carrera or Carrera S still carries a grand-touring vibe, where comfort is a priority. In a situation like that, PDK offers proper performance but allows the driver to sit back and relax, since a manual can't choose to shift itself if the driver wants to chill. On the other side of the spectrum, drivers looking to minimize lap times primarily will probably also want to stick with the PDK; the manual is a hoot, but even a human made entirely of fast-twitch muscle would find it impossible to match shift times with a dual-clutch.

You may not be able to see much of the flat-6 engine, but boy, can you hear it.

Andrew Krok/CNET

While the seven-speed manual is a no-cost option, the GTS isn't exactly a bargain. A 911 Carrera starts around $107,000 these days, with the GTS sitting at about $143,000. That may seem like a big leap, but considering the GT3 starts at $170,000 and the Turbo costs $184,000, the GTS does occupy a pretty good spot between those extremes. My tester is only a hair more expensive at $152,700 (including $1,350 in destination charges), thanks to minor but much appreciated options like an extended fuel tank ($230), rear-axle steering ($2,090) and a front-axle lift system ($2,770).

The 2022 Porsche 911 GTS is a true delight. It's constantly asking you to pay attention and be involved in the process, and the car will happily reward you with some of the best dynamics in the auto industry. It's the ideal car for a manual transmission, and that's obvious the second you slip behind the wheel.