Tested: 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Manual, the Gatekeeper
The 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 has one analog gauge: the tachometer. It’s huge, dead ahead through the steering wheel. And if you spec a GT3 with the six-speed manual transmission, it’s a vital instrument. That’s because, unless you own an early Honda S2000 or some type of Hayabusa-powered Ford Festiva, you’re probably not accustomed to shifting gears at 9000 rpm. Shift by ear in the GT3, and you might grab the next ratio at 7000 rpm—which is, preposterously, short-shifting by a wide margin. So, you keep that tach in your peripheral vision, and when the yellow lights alongside it start to flash, that’s when your left foot goes to the clutch and your right hand to the shifter. At 9000 rpm, it sounds as if the 502-hp 4.0-liter flat-six is trying to overtake the car itself. It sounds like a GT3 Cup car’s engine back there. Which, of course, it mostly is.
The GT3’s six-speed manual is a different animal than the seven-speed stick in other 911s, tracing its lineage back to the 2016 911 R model. While the seven-speed unit uses Porsche’s clever “mechanically converted shift actuator” (MECOSA) to translate its PDK dual-clutch-automatic-derived guts into an H-shift pattern, no such system is needed on the six-speed, which is gloriously easy to slot into the proper gear. It feels somehow frictionless until the soft crunch of engagement tells you you’ve hit the next cog. Revs climb—and fall off—instantly, as if the 4.0-liter has a fidget spinner for a flywheel. Mundane chores like parallel parking inevitably attract lookie-loos, so keep those revs up. Stalling a GT3 is almost as bad as stalling an airplane, in terms of embarrassment, if not consequences.
A manual gearbox suits a machine that’s so thoroughly devoted to an unfiltered driving experience. Our $197,935 test car’s limited selection of options was almost all related to speed or performance: $10,110 for carbon-ceramic brakes, $5900 for fixed-back carbon bucket seats, $230 for the extended-range 23.7-gallon fuel tank that maybe ought to be standard, given that the GT3 drinks fuel like a four-wheel-drive Chevy Tahoe (16 mpg combined, per the EPA). The GT3’s $164,150 base price does include two cupholders, one of which is positioned directly in front of the shifter. Do not use that cupholder.
In the GT3’s Normal drive mode, you can try to rev-match downshifts yourself. In Sport and Track modes, the car does it for you. Reverse is up and to the left of first gear, and its detent—pushing down on the shifter—is not exactly a seven-foot-tall bouncer with brass knuckles. Tip: If you think you’re in first gear but the backup camera is on, best check your work before dropping the clutch.
Grab a perfect launch and the six-speed GT3 will hit 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds at 124 mph. Those are great numbers, but far in arrears of the automatic car’s 2.7-second dash to 60 and its 10.9-second quarter-mile pass at 129 mph. The manual GT3 weighs slightly less than the PDK car (3199 pounds versus 3222 pounds) and manages to improve on the automatic model’s skidpad grip (1.16 g’s compared to 1.11 g’s). But there’s a reason that Porsche sent an automatic GT3 to represent the car at our Lightning Lap event—the dual-clutch gearbox makes for quicker lap times. In choosing the manual transmission, you’re deliberately surrendering performance. And why would you do that?
Well, because you can spare a half-second here or there in the name of glorious mechanical involvement. And because, with a manual, this car draws a straight line back to the first 911s, except it’s so much better. Plus, there’s the snob appeal. The GT3 is its own exclusive club, and the manual GT3 is the roped-off VIP area inside that party. No poseurs allowed. This is like the GT3 versus 911 Turbo debate distilled to an intra-GT3 rivalry. Do you prioritize raw emotion or raw speed? While the manual option costs zilch, it ought to be a statement credit. But that is an accounting oversight we can stomach, especially when the GT3 feels like a bargain.