At last, the latest 911 Carrera can be had with a manual gearbox. Except, you can only have it with the Carrera S, not the base Carrera. And for the time being it’s only available in the USA, although it will be coming to the UK eventually. Meanwhile, Porsche now wants to charge you as much money for a conventional manual transmission as it does for the complex, robotic PDK gearbox. OK, Porsche is chucking in Sport Chrono with the manual ’box, an option that normally costs you £1646 on the Carrera S. But apart from the dynamic engine mounts that come with Sport Chrono, that mostly amounts to a few lines of code for more aggressive mapping options.
At the same time, models like the latest 911 Speedster, admittedly based on the previous-gen 911, are available exclusively with a manual gearbox. Likewise the latest 718 GT4 and Spyder models, though PDK will supposedly be coming for those mid-engine twins.
Observed in the round and especially considering that the base Carrera isn’t getting the manual gearbox, it looks like Porsche is increasingly positioning manual as a premium option. Assuming Porsche’s combustion cars survive in general for a fair few more years, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to find that manual makes the next step from ‘no cost’ option to something that actually attracts a surcharge.
In many ways, that makes sense. The vast majority of customers already choose PDK when given the option. A preference for manual is pretty much the reserve of a certain narrow breed of purists. They’re arguably the type of driving enthusiast who would pay a premium if required. So, why not charge them more? The only snag involves low-end 718 models. It’s tricky to pitch manual as something premium and exotic while you’re fitting it to poverty-spec 718s as standard.
But then the 718 is apparently not long for this world. Roughly three years from now it is expected to be replaced by a pure electric sports car and the problem of manual market positioning will disappear along with the 718’s combustion engine. At which point, Porsche will have carte blanche to pitch manual however it likes. Once, naturally aspirated engines were the norm, turbo engines the premium option at Porsche. Now everything’s turbocharged bar a few low-volume, big-ticket specials. Odds are, manual gearboxes are heading the same way.