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From the Editor…
UP FRONT: Manualist, Bennett, rejoices at the return of the self-shifting option for the 911, albeit on Porsche’s terms
Fast forward to the News pages and you will see that the manual gearbox is back for the 911. That’s the long-awaited option of a manual ’box. The story goes that it will be available in the US first and will then filter through to other markets. Oh, and it will only be available on the Carrera S models and as a no-cost option. Well, I suppose we manualists should be grateful for the crumbs, but it does put paid to the notion of a manual, base model 911, also known as ‘journo spec!’ Although if Porsche does decide to build a 911T based on the 992, I would hazard a guess that they would surely option it with a manual ’box.
But why does it matter, and why do we bang on about it so much? And does anyone really care, apart from motoring journalists and a tiny fraction of buyers? Well, it matters because the manual gearbox is about control and interaction and if you really enjoy driving, then that matters.
An auto is an auto. It does it for you, it’s black or white, up or down
I don’t claim to be some sort of master of the manual, but I could happily bang on about gearboxes that I have known, from a four-speed Ford Rocket ’box to a Getrag G50 and plenty in between (915 anybody?). That might sound slightly weird, but I certainly couldn’t tell you much about the autos that I’ve driven over the years. An auto is an auto. It does it for you, it’s black and white, up or down. Sure, they’ve got faster and they’re not as slushy, which is impressive, and they’ve got a million ratios, but they’ve got no soul, no skill required or coordination. Driving a Porsche should be an immersive experience. We’ve been robbed of steering feel in the name of economy and packaging. Throttle response is blunted by fly-by-wire and turbos, even a handbrake is a thing of the past (amazing how you miss them). The manual gerarbox is the last piece of direct mechanical communication we have. That’s why it’s important.