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The 997 911 GT3: The last manualThe new 991-type 911 GT3 will only be available with a dual-clutch PDK gearbox. We took a look at the last generation GT3 to see why its stick shift made it so special.
This is a full stop. It's an ending. It's the final nail in fun's coffin. It marks the end of a little bit of independence that drivers all over the world love and often fight fiercely to protect. It's not the car itself, the 911 GT3-- there's a new one of those-- but its gearbox. It's the last manual GT3 we'll probably ever have. Porsche unveiled a new take 991 911 GT3 at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. It's faster, more capable, and every way better than this-- the previous generation 997 GT3, but crucially, it would be available with a manual gearbox. And that's a shame. Everything about this car screams hardcore, work for your [unk]. But as an experience, this car is unbelievably good to drive. The steering is just the right side of heavy. So, you know when you probably hustle into a corner, it feels good. But the big clinch here is the gearbox. These six little ratios sat right down here. It is hard work. The clutch does require a little bit of pushing, and it's quite notchy. But when you get it right, when you match it with the revs, and the engine revs so freely and so wonderfully, you know you've done something special. And the car rewards you with this brilliant feeling that, yes, you are driving this car correctly. And yes, you can do it well. And all of a sudden, it just worked. Everything feels just right. There's very few things that can talk that feeling. Cars like this hardcore GT3 are all about driver engagement, feeling at one with the car, linking corner off to corner with fluid inputs and finely-tuned reactions. A huge part of that is being able to swap cogs yourself. You know where you are with the manual change. You can hold the gear as long as you like, listen to the noise, hold the car at just the right point in the rev range and your chosen ratio, and exploit the torque of to your heart's content. Certainly, humans are quite stupid. We still, at our very core, just wandering around the world, trying to make the best of it as we can. But inevitably, we make massive mistakes. Now, to quote Alexander Pope, "to err is human and to forgive, divine." Something I wish you, too, commented with take on board a little more often, if I'm on it. But at least, it goes to show that when you count yourselves a little bit of slack when we make mistakes-- like changing gear made corners, staying in them for too long, burning out clutches, doing silly things to impress people who often don't care, et cetera. We also like things to be easy. Things like smartphones may be killing pub debates, but at least an answer-- a correct one, 99 percent the time-- is at our very fingertips. Technology is steadily eliminating the mistakes we make, arguably making us more knowledgeable and better off. Unless you believe all the stuff you read on Twitter and [unk] ready, most of that is just bullshit. Anyway, technology in the wider world improves our knowledge base, advances us as people. But in the automotive world, well, it has all manner of uses. The dual-clutch PDK gearbox used by Porsche is pretty fantastic. For example, it changes gear faster than you could care to mention, and selects the right gear for the right speed. It also means you get better fuel economy, and emit less nasty carbon dioxide. The basic 911, the Carrera with the manual gearbox, emits 212 grams per kilometer of carbon dioxide. Now, with the PDK, it emits just 194 grams per kilometer. The manual car will manage 31.4 mpg, a very respectable number. But the PDK manages 34.4 mpg. If you let the car change gears by itself, its 0-62 time is 0.2 of a second quicker than the manual cars. And people absolutely love it. The PDK manual split in the U.K., at least, is 70 to 30. And then, you take your mind the fact that Ferrari and Jaguar don't actually offer a manual gearbox anymore 'cause people simply don't buy them. They prefer the ease of letting the car do its own thing, but still have the thrill of the speed machines that those companies sell. And if people are buying them, then there's no business case for them. If there's no business case for the manual, then, well, why bother? And the PDK gearbox works fantastically in the 911. It's smooth, easy to use, and around lovely. In its various modes, it can transform the car from an effortless cruiser to a dribbling speed machine. It even lets you perform perfect launches time after time. Porsche knows the PDK gearbox works incredibly well. So, now, it is the only way you can change gear in the new 991 GT3. Maybe this one is the last GT3 that left for a full driver experience, full engagement. For once for better phrase well, it's the last analog GT3 will probably ever get. So, this is the last GT3 that features mental power and full driver involvement. It has everything a driver's car could possibly need. And it just feels right. Will the new GT3 offer the same magic, the same engagement, the same involvement as this? The old car-- one regards it by many as being one of the finest cars ever built. That, I don't know. I'll let you know when I drive it. But what I do know is the stick shift in there will, by many, be sorely missed. And I'm one of those many.