More isn’t always better. We’ll agree in terms of power, but respectfully pass when we’re talking about weight. Transmission gears? We’re not sure. Some recent automatics have featured 7 and 8forward ratios (and ZF has even announced a 9-speed auto), but the maximum for traditional clutch-and-lever manual transmissions has been 6 for some time. That’s about to change, however, because we’ve confirmed from various corporate sources that Porsche will offer a 7-speed manual in the next-generation 911, a development we 1st reported last November.
The point is to offer a tall, 7th gear for improved efficiency and reduced engine noise during long cruises. The shifting experience is said to be similar to that of the current 6-speed manual—which we love—there’s just a bit more rowing to do, although, depending on the ratio spread, veteran Porsche drivers might also have to slightly tweak their thinking in terms of gear choice for upcoming corners. Unless something changes and the shift pattern is seriously wacky, though, we doubt anyone will get confused during hard driving, since 7th will hardly be anyone’s go-to gear for corner exit.
As to the next 911 itself, it carries the internal 991 designation and is scheduled to debut at the Frankfurt auto show this September. It will be based on the stretched architecture of the 996/997 and offer more rear seat space and a more comfortable, luxurious interior. Vehicle stability will be improved thanks to a longer wheelbase. Future generations of the 911, however, are expected to share many components with the next-gen Audi R8 and Lamborghini Gallardo as part of the VW Group’s highly flexible Modularer Sportbaukasten, or “modular sports architecture.” When and if this platform convergence happens, the 911 will keep its rear-engine layout, although the powerplant may nevertheless be moved forward significantly.
Porsche’s 7-speed manual only adds to the multiple gearbox options in the sports-car segment, which include dual-clutch, torque-converter, and modified automatics; traditional manuals; and even an entirely new single-clutch automatic in the Lamborghini Aventador. Will the 7-speed manual be offered by other automakers as well? At present, a supplier source tells us additional interest in the technology is limited.