We all know about the Porsche 911 GT3. It is the class of the field, the last bastion of driving experience over performance, and probably the greatest sports (super?) car on sale today. Now, we have a new GT3 with heavy revisions and a lot of new tech. But with the return of the six-speed manual gearbox from the previous generation that has finally landed in the hands of trusted pilots across the world.
For this Review Rundown special, I read a few articles by our friends across the industry and even watched a few videos to get an idea of what the new GT3s manual gearbox is like in traffic, parking lots, and of course, the open canyons.
Our Review Rundowns usually compile writeups and driving impressions from a range of journalists when a new car comes out. The GT3 Touring’s been around for a bit, but since this car is so particularly captivating to those of us who love driving (even we who can’t afford one), and a stick-shift supercar is just exceptionally interesting in 2021… we’re going to have a special post here just focusing on what people think of the row-your-own GT3.
Experts Discuss the 911 GT3 Touring’s Manual Gearbox
The 911 GT3 is a benchmark for modern sports cars, and by extension, for modern manual gearboxes. The 991 had a beautifully short, snappy, and crisp shifter that paired nicely with a short clutch throw and excellent throttle calibration that made for an easy, fun driving experience. It did come standard with a heavy dual-mass flywheel that smoothed things out but dulled response. The new 992 GT3’s manual gearbox seems to get a flywheel that is magnitudes lighter, though I’m not 100 percent sure if it’s a normal single-mass flywheel or a dual-mass flywheel. Either way, a lighter, more responsive engine is more fun, with aggressive throttle response and zippy throttle work to get the car moving. It seems that the new car requires real revs and throttle control to get the car going, something I always enjoy in modified cars with lightweight flywheels.
Anyways, here are the pros and their thoughts on the new manual gearbox for this special review roundup:
Matt Farah for The Smoking Tire (Video) — “But there are very few more satisfying things in modern cars than running this [GT3] through the gears. It is magnifique… Obviously, the engine is very free-revving… but you notice it most when you’re trying to engage the clutch from a stop. Because the engine has such little inertia, such a light flywheel, you really need to feather the throttle to keep it engaged. The flywheel feels lighter than the 991 [911 GT3]. For example, at Westside Collector Car Storage, when I move a 991.2 GT3 around the shop, I don’t have to give it any throttle at all, I can just idle it through the shop [on the clutch], if I do that in this car, I will stall.”
Steve Sutcliffe for Evo — “The shift quality is peachy, the clutch surprisingly light and manageable, and there’s a switchable blip function on downshifts that you can take or leave.
We’d say take it because it works beautifully and makes you appear to be an even more highly skilled wheelman than you already are, but if you want to do it all by yourself and have a tidy heel and toe technique in your closet, fine. The choice is yours.
Either way, the manual GT3 is one of those cars that makes your heart beat faster every time you climb aboard. On-road or track.”
Steven Ewing for CNET Roadshow — “I can understand going PDK if you’re a track rat chasing lap times, but I’d be remiss not to order the Touring with the sweet, sweet six-speed manual. What you lose in outright quickness (0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds) you get back tenfold in driver involvement. There is something so satisfying about the perfect sync of right arm and left leg as you quickly upshift from second to third, just as the tach touches that backlit number 9. The manual gearbox is doubly as enjoyable on the way back down, too, with well-spaced pedals for heel-and-toe shifting, or Porsche’s great auto rev-matching tech, which purists bemoan but I use all the time.
The gear lever itself is nice and thick, and it’s actually the same one you get in a PDK GT3. I will admit finding a slight disconnect with this shifter, like it’s missing a bit of its mechanical linkage. Said another way, it’s less satisfying than the stick in a 718 Cayman GTS or GT4, but not so much that I’d even consider buying a GT3 without it.”
Ollie Kew for Top Gear (Web) — “Absorbing, but an acquired taste. The manual won’t be for everyone. It’s not simply a case of ‘I like cars and I take my driving seriously, so I’ll have three pedals, please’.
First things first: the gearchange itself is sublime: less stiff than older GT3s, with a precise mechanical sensation as you slot between the cogs and sense the teeth meshing.
The gearlever itself is perfect. No gimmicks, no trinkets. Just a round top with a glossy finish, encased in suede. Spot on. And this manic engine is such a savage that the usual Porsche moan of over-long gearing just didn’t register here.
The clutch isn’t hard work either. I always found the Cayman GT4’s legendary manual slightly blighted by a l-o-n-g travel, fairly heavy clutch. The GT3’s is lighter and you don’t need a telescopic leg to operate it. And even if you flap about the world on hideous freak feet like me, there’s space for a size 12 to rest comfortably alongside the clutch once you’re cruising.
Meanwhile, the car performs throttle blips for you in Sport and Track mode, but if you prefer to heel and toe yourself, the computer senses you’re giving the throttle a tickle and backs off.”
Derek Powell for Car and Driver — “In keeping with its more roadgoing mission, the Touring comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Carried over intact from the previous GT3, its throws are natural and precise, and so is the beautifully weighted clutch. For the first time in a Touring, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional. Though it adds nothing to the bottom line, opting for the automatic imparts a 37-pound weight penalty.”
Daniel Pund for Road & Track — “Anyway, this test car was equipped with the manual. What this row-your-own GT3 gives up in acceleration performance compared to the ruthlessly quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic is essentially meaningless. An additional tenth of a second or two on the way to 60 mph is inconsequential compared to the joy of operating the manual. Those interested in achieving the quickest possible acceleration figures are advised to check out the four-wheel-drive automatic 911 Turbo S.”
For the American-based reviewers, Porsche offered the 992 GT3 Touring for a short period to testers in Southern California, and it seems most drove it up Angeles Crest Highway, while Matt Farah chose a road from his own war chest. The European reviewers drove their cars on the road and track at their seeming leisure.
Porsche took some incredibly pretty photos of the new Touring for us to show you, check them out below: