Porsche cars and automatic transmissions do not seem compatible and yet over the years there have been a number of models offered with the option of semi-automatic, or Sportomatic, transmission commencing with the 911T, the 911L and the 911S in 1967. It is now ten years, though, since Porsche dropped that option from its range of cars.
In the intervening years, however, Porsche engineers have been busy working on a new semi-automatic transmission which has even been tested under racing conditions, including Le Mans.
Developed from this unit, the PDK, Porsche’s new Tiptronic Dual Function doubles up as both a completely automatic gearbox as well as allowing the driver some greater say in the gear selections.
For those who are used to automatic, the PRND321 gate will be very familiar, but the smaller gate to the right, which is accessed via the ‘Drive’ selector, will be new territory. This section, which is marked ” + M — “enables the driver to change up or down a gear by simply pushing or pulling the gear lever, very similar in action to a video game joystick. The benefit of using this part of the box is that it allows the driver to retain some control over the car and prevents it changing gear in a corner. The system is not completely mindless, though, for if the driver tries to change down into a gear for which the engine speed is too great, the box will refuse to change but remembers the command and effects the operation when the engine speed is suitable. Likewise in changing up. If the throttle is pressed to the floorboards until well into the red zone area, the car will respond by changing up a gear, an operation which in both cases is undertaken without any consequent power loss.