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First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera S manual. Image by Porsche GB.

First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera S manual
Do you need three pedals in the footwell of your 992 Carrera S? No. Is it brilliant that the option is there? Oh crikey, yes.

   



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Porsche 911 Carrera S manual (992)

5 5 5 5 5

We sample Porsche's manual option for the 911 'S'-spec models and come away hopelessly in love with what might, on the face of it, look like an anachronism in the world of modern transmissions.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual (992)
Pricing: 911 range from 82,795, Carrera S Coupe manual from 94,350, car as tested 108,523
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) electronically controlled limited-slip differential, seven-speed manual
Body style: two-door 2+2 sports coupe
CO2 emissions: 243g/km (VED Band 226-255: 1,850 first 12 months, then 475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 28mpg
Top speed: 191mph
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
Power: 450hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 530Nm at 2,300-5,000rpm
Boot space: 132 litres (front boot), c.264 litres (rear seats)

What's this?

They (whomsoever 'they' might be, when they're at home) say the manual transmission is dead. As more and more electric vehicles come along, with their 'engage and then forget' single-speed reduction gear set-ups, and as dual-clutch 'boxes (and, whisper it, full torque-converter automatics and even some CVTs too) become ever more refined, fast-acting and equipped with paddle shifts, the idea of having a H-pattern lever and three pedals in your footwell is starting to look like hankering after old-fashioned technology. Needless. Apart from a few diehards ranting on about the 'extra interaction' that manual gearboxes supposedly give you as a driver, the reality is most of us spend our lives in the clogged traffic conditions of the UK's roads network in the 2020s and an autobox - of some shape or form - is just massively more preferable for massively more of the time you're out there driving with the masses.

Despite this, though, all hail Porsche. The German company has decided to introduce a seven-speed manual transmission into, of all things, its 992-generation 911 sports car range. Frankly, in the grand scheme of automated gearboxes, Porsche's Doppelkupplung (PDK) is one of the best in the business. And a perfect match for the turbocharged flat-six engines employed throughout the 911 line-up, so offering a manual to sit alongside it looks like a totally superfluous move on Stuttgart's part. Nevertheless, the Teutonic firm has a long history of putting its keen driving enthusiast fanbase high on its list of priorities and so the seven-speed manual is offered as a no-cost option on all the 'S'-level cars. That means the 450hp derivatives of the Carrera S/4S Coupe (we've tested the rear-wheel-drive former of these two here) and Cabriolet models, and also the Targa 4S too (that'd be an intriguing car, right?! A 4WD, manual, open-top 992 with a fancy retro roof?). But you can't have it on the 'basic' 385hp Carreras, which are PDK only, as are (for understandable torque-related reasons) all the mental Turbo and Turbo S variants.

Sacrifices to having the seven-speed unit are few, on paper. The top speed of the manual Carrera S is the same 191mph as a PDK-equipped model, although the 0-62mph time falls back a significant seven-tenths to a 4.2-second sprint - the same as a PDK 385hp entry-point Carrera - because there's no Launch Control function with the manual. However, the torque output of the rear-mounted, biturbo flat-six doesn't need to be capped from the peak 530Nm figure and the published WLTP economy/CO2 numbers don't look much worse either. We suppose it's a bit odd that the manual isn't cheaper to buy than a Carrera S PDK, but by way of recompense while the car isn't lighter on your wallet, it is lighter on its feet. This manual RWD clocks in at 1,480kg DIN unladen, making it the first 992 we've driven that's dropped below the tonne-and-a-half marker. So, are we looking at some sort of 911 GT3-lite, here? Or are you better off just sticking with the PDK?

How does it drive?

The last time we were in a non-Motorsport Porsche with a manual 'box, it was the 991 Carrera T back in 2018. And we weren't massively impressed with the gearbox, even though we adored the car. It was all too easy to get 'lost' in the gate, the throw action wasn't Porsche's most precise unit ever, and there were some weird quirks that needed to be observed in order to even get into/out of seventh in the first place.

Some work has clearly been done here, though. For starters, the transmission's action is much more pleasant and taut. It feels good snicking through second, third and fourth, and you can enact block changes across various parts of the H-gate with little difficulty. It is still the case, of course, that you must be in either fifth or sixth before you attempt to go into seventh, but now you can drop out of seventh and into pretty much any gear of your choosing, road-speed permitting; we tried it at 60mph from seventh to second (purely for the purposes of critical evaluation, you understand) with rev-matching on in Sport mode and it was a seamless change. Mind, you don't want to be doing this particular five-gear swap at higher speeds, lest you ping all of the Porsche's valves through its engine cover.

Other than the actual throw, we are ourselves going to fall into that niche trap we mentioned earlier: namely, praising this car to the high heavens for its additional driver interactivity. It might sound daft to be eulogising about a three-pedal set-up on a Porsche that is emphatically not the top of its particular tree, but the Carrera S manual is a glorious, glorious all-rounder. There's something weirdly perverse and yet delightful about having a 450hp 911 with a clutch pedal and an H-gate, and when you're on the right roads then the extra fun of stirring the stick about the 'box is hard to precisely quantify but impossible to ignore. Better yet, Porsche hasn't gone too long on the gearing of this transmission, unlike on the otherwise-perfect 718 Cayman GT4, and so it feels worthwhile having seven ratios, even if the Carrera S can comfortably break the speed limit to pieces in third. Better still, it works brilliantly in the regard of hearing the flat-six motor at its best: although peak power is delivered at 6,500rpm and you're therefore well within your rights to shift up at that point to elicit maximum performance from the 911, hang on to the gear and there's a suddenly much louder, more insistent metallic bark from the back of the car as the needle passes 7,000rpm and swings towards the redline at seven-four. The Carrera S sounds magnificent in this plateaued realm, so the 'box is worth the, er, non-asking price alone for this.

Like any rear-driven 992, the Carrera S manual is a proper hoot on the right roads and feels every inch the sports car the 911 has always been across its many decades in service. The steering is just that touch more responsive and informative in these non-AWD models and that's certainly the case with this car, which has a sublime agility that reflects its relatively low mass in comparison to other modern-day 992s. And yet it functions just as wonderfully on the obverse side of its dynamic coin, when it is operating as a pseudo-grand tourer. In fact, we drove it back-to-back with a 580hp Turbo (review on that car to come soon) and while you might think the wide-bodied Porsche was the greater long-distance machine, in actual fact the Carrera S manual had the more comfortable ride and far less noticeable tyre/wind noise in the cabin. Factor in the strong torque delivery of the twin-turbocharged motor, which means the 450hp 992 has enough flexibility to lug cleanly from 2,000rpm in seventh, and you can see it's just as good at relaxed cruising as it is charging up a B-road with its engine singing away at high revs. To the point that we couldn't really fault the way the 911 Carrera S manual drove. At all.

Verdict

You absolutely don't need the manual gearbox for the Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. It's a pretty stunning car as it is with the standard-fit PDK and it would seem the clutch-pedal-endowed alternative is only there as a sop to a minority group of petrolheads who think any automatic transmission is a cop-out of some sort, because it's hardly a transformative change brought about by having the manual H-gate. But we're unequivocal: there are a lot of blindingly talented 992s available on sale right now, yet few of them have the phenomenal strength in depth in so many departments that this manual-equipped Carrera S possesses. Fabulous and involving sports car one minute, epically refined and cosseting GT the next, it has immediately become our 'go-to' choice in the wider 992 range. Quite, quite marvellous... oh, and top tip - get it in Gentian Blue (876) with a Black/Iceland Green two-tone interior (422), for what is clearly the best colourway possible.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 2 Dec 2020



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2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe manual UK test. Image by Porsche GB.








 

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