2022 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe Manual 992
As outlined in the previous issue of 911 & Porsche World, manual gearboxes are becoming increasingly less common. Porsche is persisting with a three-pedal option for the 992 Carrera S, but should you stick with the default option of PDK? Words Matt Robinson. Photography Barry Hayden.
MANUAL LABOUR OF LOVE The 992 Carrera S with a stick shift.
It’s a strange item. A tall, lever-like object, sticking out of the centre tunnel of the 911’s cabin just aft of climate control dials. There are markings on it: a pattern of lines, the numbers one to seven, and also the letter ‘R’. What is this arcane device? What are you supposed to use it for? And why are there three pedals in the footwell, rather than just the usual two? Of course, we’re being facetious, but as the manual gearbox becomes an increasingly endangered species — in an age where electrification of drivetrains goes seemingly hand-in-hand with automated transmissions of some kind, be they dual-clutch, full auto, reduction-gear or even (shudder) CVT units — the H-gate lever and a physical clutch pedal at the driver’ s feet will become increasingly unfamiliar sights.
Generations to come won’t know what to do with the things.
Sticking a manual transmission into the lower-priced end of the 992 spectrum seems like a perverse move on Porsche’s part. After all, not so long ago, the company abandoned a stick shift for the most focused 911 of all — the 991 GT3 was originally offered with a Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) unit only. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t well-received by the driving enthusiast fraternity of this world. Four years later, for the brilliant 991 Gen II GT3, the manual gearbox option was reinstated.
All this mention of GT division products might seem tangential, but as we now know, in order to differentiate the multitudinous variations of the modern 911 from one another, there’s a clearly demarcated hierarchy at play within the rear-engined sports car’s line-up. There’s the Carreras, arguably the strongest allrounders, comfort-oriented, but still fast and talented enough to entertain on the right roads. Then there are Targas and Cabriolets, representing the feelgood style icons of the crew, while the Turbo and Turbo S are for those who want to go as fast as is humanly possible, whatever the weather or road conditions. 911 GT3 models are the track-focused, supersharp driving weapons, and the GT2 RS is for those of you who want to scare yourselves silly.
To be honest, we can totally understand a manual option in the GT3. It is entirely sensible. We’d even approve of three pedals in the GT2 RS, although this is a totally hypothetical situation because there is hardly a manual gearbox built that could handle the immense torque produced by the turbocharged monster. But, beyond these two, no other modern 911s really require a manual transmission. The Turbos, like the GT2RS, also have way too much torque for such a gearbox, and the Targa is so laid-back and cruiser-in-nature that PDK is the ideal companion. In other words, unless we get a 992 Carrera T to follow on from the 991 variant of the most affordable drivers’ 911, we’re not sure why Porsche is persisting with the tech, especially when the eight-speed PDK fitted in all 992 Carreras is such a magnificent gearbox. Granted, it’s now presented as that strange, stubby gear-shifter that looks like an electric razor, but this sticky-uppy feature of the centre console is connected to a smooth-shifting, rapid-responding transmission that works just as well in fully automatic mode as it does on the paddle shifts. For the vast majority of everyday driving, PDK takes all of the sting out of congested roads, start-stop traffic and navigating your way through towns and cities.
The fact a manual gearbox is only offered on the more potent — and, therefore, more driver-focused — Carrera S and Targa 4S models is telling, although it is, weirdly, a no-cost option on all the 992s where available. Given the extra mechanical complexity and weight of PDK, you’d think the bods in Stuttgart could make manual transmission a little more desirable to customers by making the three-pedal Carrera S somewhat cheaper than the PDK, but no — price equivalence is the order of the day. We tried the manual gearbox in a rear-wheel-drive Carrera S Coupe, finished in luscious Gentian Blue (£876) with a two-tone Black/Iceland Green interior (£422), decoration which put us in the right mood from the off. Free of big wings, wide arches and dark-coloured alloys, this lower-spec 992 is supremely elegant and attractive. On its silver wheels (twenty-inches at the front, twenty-one at the rear), the car looked every inch the grand pseudo-GT its engine specification would have you believe it to be. But, dear reader, grand tourers do not use manual gearboxes, especially not seven-speed units. That surfeit of forward ratios on an H-gate transmission marks Porsche out alone in the automotive world and, now we think about it, the last time we tried a seven-speeder in a 911 was in the aforementioned 991 Carrera T, where, if we’re being honest, we found it obstructive to use, with too much of a propensity for getting ‘lost’ in all gears. It didn’t have the slickest shift feel either, being not a patch on the six-speed manual enjoyed by drivers of the previously mentioned 991 Gen II GT3. For the 992, however, Porsche has revised the way the seven-speed manual works. Going up the ‘box, it’s still the case the driver must be in the plane of fifth and sixth gears before attempting an upshift into seventh (there’s a lock-off that prevents going from third to seventh, for instance), but coming the other way, providing road speed allows (in terms of revs), you can shift from seventh all the way down into second, if you so wish. Switch on the nifty rev-matching function in Sport mode and, at around 60mph, this five-gear block-shift is every bit as seamless as coming down by a single ratio at a time. Better yet, Porsche has made the shift action itself feel tauter, more pleasing than it was in the 991 Carrera T, while the gearing isn’t comically long, as on the otherwise-exceptional 718 Cayman GT4. The 992 Carrera S will still pull big speeds in third and fourth, but with seven ratios to go at, there are smaller gaps between each gear, which means there’s a good degree of driver interaction offered by the Carrera S manual, mainly because it doesn’t have a solitary gear stellar enough reach to ensure that, on UK roads, cog-swapping is unnecessary.
There is, however, a bare, on-paper performance penalty to optioning a 992 Carrera S with manual transmission. Without the Launch Control function of PDK, the 0-62mph tumbles quite some distance, to ‘just’ 4.2 seconds. That’s eight-tenths down on a Carrera 4S PDK and half-a-second slower than its equivalent rear-drive 992 Coupe automatic. It means the 444bhp Carrera S Coupe is no quicker for the benchmark sprint than the base-spec 380bhp Carrera PDK. As a buyer, this might bother you. Then again, you might dismiss sprint times as useless pub posturing stats. Similarly, the fact the manual Carrera S can match the PDK model’s 191mph top speed is probably irrelevant (unless you plan to regularly hammer your 992 on circuits with very, very long straights), and the manual isn’t really any better when it comes to fuel economy and CO2 emissions. True, according to Porsche’s published emissions data, the 992 Carrera S manual is a touch cleaner and, supposedly, a tad more frugal, but in reality, this does nothing for VED requirements (both manual and PDK are in the same UK tax band, the second-highest going) and we doubt you’ll sense any difference at the pumps. That said, while the manual option is no lighter on your wallet, it does make the entire Porsche less heavy on its feet. Unladen and measured DIN, with a 35kg saving compared to a PDK, this three-pedal Carrera S Coupe manages to dip beneath 1.5-tonne kerb weight, tipping scales at 1,480kg all-in. Could this be enough to make all the difference to the way the 992 drives? The answer is a resounding ‘no’ — not even those of the most sensitive disposition could ever hope to discern a 2.4 percent weight increase from the manual to the PDK and then back again.
This seven-speed manual, then. We’re talking about a transmission that, on the face of it, looks utterly unnecessary, harms the acceleration characteristics of the host 911, is no cheaper to order than the twin-clutch ‘box, is fitted to what’s far from the most intense and demanding of 911s, doesn’t really add much in terms of economy gains nor weight benefits, and which promises to be more of a hassle in daily driving duties than the super-slick double-clutch unit.
That’s not entirely an enticing roll call of considerations, is it?! Furthermore, we recently argued that in the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0, one of the finest driver’s cars Porsche has ever made, PDK was far superior to the manual option. With all this taken into consideration, you’ll think it highly unlikely we’ll have flipped to the three-pedal Carrera’s cause as a result, but allow us to be wildly contrarian here: if we had the money for a new 992, then this Carrera S Coupe manual would probably be at the top of our list, second only to the new GT3. If what you want is an incredibly gifted sports car on the one hand and a supremely luxurious grand tourer on the other, the Carrera S manual fills this dual-purpose role like the proverbial silk handwear.
There’s more than enough mid-range flexibility and strength to the 9A2 Evo engine to ensure you don’t need to make multiple, exasperating downshifts to keep up with ebbing and flowing traffic conditions on a motorway, nor do you really need to change to a lower ratio to blast away from 50mph SPECs-enforced roadworks zones.
Out on the open road, where a 911 truly thrives, a 992 Carrera S manual makes terrific sense. As good as PDK is in operation, simply clicking on a paddle at the correct moment during corner approach and exit is neither as rewarding nor as taxing as timing a change on the sweet manual ‘box to perfection. Such an act requires the deft mechanics of dumping your left leg, enacting a heel-and-toe throttle blip and then nailing a cog swap just so, all while you’re trying to ascertain your turn-in point and entry speed. The reason we weren’t enamoured with clutch-pedal-equipped 718 GTS and 718 GT4 cars is because, on the right roads, you hardly ever needed to do this manual gearbox dance due to the super-long gearing of the GTS/GT4 transmission. And yet, in the 992 Carrera S, Porsche has ensured multiple gearshifts give the best possible experience behind the wheel.
It’s a subtle yet crucial distinction between manual and PDK, and we suspect it mainly revolves around the sensible gearing employed. Porsche has clearly improved the feel of the seven-speed manual transmission, making it polished to the same high standard of engineering as the rest of the 992. As mentioned earlier, the clunky gearbox in the 991 Carrera T felt out of step with the car, but not only is the actual process of moving from one ratio to another far more pleasant in the 992 than it was in the 991, there’s also the wonderful necessity of having to make those manual changes on the right sort of challenging roads. This Carrera S is not a car you slot into fourth at the start of a B-road, leaving it there while you get on with enjoying yourself on a spirited drive — if that were the case, offering the three-pedal option would have been a totally redundant idea, but save for our test car’s plush cabin surroundings, the oh-so-supple suspension and the lack of a stratospheric redline, if you’d presented its brilliant dynamic make-up to us a few years ago, we’d have a hard time arguing its specification wasn’t that of a GT3. And, while it seems odd to see an H-pattern lever sticking up in the middle of the 992’s cockpit, don’t dismiss manual transmission as an unfathomable relic of the past. Consider the car on these pages as the thinking person’s 911 and you’ll appreciate just what a wonderful car the 992 Carrera S Coupe manual really is.
Above It’s difficult to argue against the 992’s rear end being the model’s greatest exterior design feature. Above The perfect blend of comfortable grand tourer and super-fast sports car. Below Name another mass production modern sports car interior as well designed as the 992’s plush cabin. Above Beautiful in Gentian Blue, the 992 Carrera S is excellent in either PDK or manual guise, but does the stick shift offer the same sense of urgency as auto.
THE LASTTIME WE TRIED A PORSCHE SEVEN-SPEEDER WAS IN THE 991,WHERE IF WE’RE BEING HONEST,WE FOUND IT OBSTRUCTIVE TO USE
Model Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual (992)
Price 911 (992) range from £84,870, Carrera S Coupe manual from £97,450, car as tested £111,623
Engine 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six petrol, seven-speed manual with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential
CO2 emissions 243g/km
Top speed 191mph
0-62mph 4.2 seconds
Max Power 444bhp at 6,500rpm
Max Torque 91lb ft at 2,300-5,000rpm
Weight 1,480kg (DIN)