In California, Porsche Drops Manual Transmission for Top-of-Line 911 GT3

On June 16, Porsche announced the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring. The 502-horsepower coupe is the understated version of the top-of-the-line GT3 that comes with a spoiler large enough for a picnic.  

But the arrival of the new variant has also elicited an omission far more consequential: For the first time ever, Porsche will not offer a manual transmission in its most coveted 911s for drivers in its single biggest U.S. market. California will be the only state to not receive the 911 GT3 in manual form.

“The seven-speed PDK gearbox will be the only transmission offered in California with the 911 GT3,” Porsche reported in a line buried at the end of the GT3 Touring press release. The decision had not been made public when Porsche debuted the GT3 earlier this year. “For those who prefer three pedals and are located outside of California, a six-speed manual gearbox will continue to be available at no extra cost.”

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According to Porsche, the “Touring” distinction refers to an equipment variant of the 1973 911 Carrera RS. Porsche revived the idea in 2017 when it offered a Touring package for the 911 GT3.

Source: Porsche

Porsche is notoriously vague about how many allocations of its halo car are bought as manuals vs. PDK (automatic paddle shifting), but fans take the stick shift option very seriously. For them, a manual transmission is the sure-fire way to show that the person behind the wheel is a “serious” and accomplished driver ready to handle a GT3 car that’s tuned to dominate the track.  

Globally,  the take rate for manual versions of the GT3 is 30%; in the U.S., that number jumps to 70%, says Porsche spokesman Luke Vandezande. (That’s compared to less than a 10% take rate in some markets for manuals across all 911 variants.) Even Andreas Preuninger, the boss of Porsche’s 911 GT3 program, often uses the hashtag #savethemanuals on his personal social media posts.

Vandezande said in an email that the company is “unable to confirm whether a manual gearbox for the 911 GT3 in any form will be offered in California in the future,” though he did confirm the manual transmission will not be offered on any of the the 2022 model year cars. And, in theory, he conceded, Beverly Hills Porsche could sell a manual GT3 if they knew it would be registered in another state.

The omission is due to the California Code of Regulations, which stipulates that highway vehicles must pass certain “drive-by” noise tests orchestrated by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Put simply, manual vehicles must remain under a certain decibel level up to full throttle in second or third gear. But an automatic transmission can hit the same speed requirements in first gear, which is far quieter.   

Porsche’s quandary is exacerbated by the timing of current and upcoming noise regulations, which has left Porsche engineering the new GT3  to comply with upcoming standards while the old standards are still in effect—effectively relegating Porsche’s purposefully aggressive, racer-light, and screamingly loud GT3 manual cars to limbo.