Porsche has a long history of innovation when it comes to transmissions. Indeed, for example, we owe to the manufacturer from Zuffenhausen the democratization of the “transaxle” architecture (engine at the front and gearbox at the back, linked by a transmission shaft in a rigid tube). Present on the Porsche 924, 928, 944 and 968, this engine-gearbox layout had the advantage of giving these models optimal weight distribution, allowing for clean and rigorous dynamics.
Building on this success, Porsche continued to work on transmission technologies so that its vehicles achieved better performance through even more advanced gearboxes. The result was the incredible PDK transmission, considered by many to be the ultimate gearbox. But what is it exactly? Porsche Rive-Sud, your Porsche dealer of choice from St-Hubert to Longueuil, tells you all about it below!
How does the PDK transmission work?
First of all, let’s explain where the PDK letters come from. It is a German acronym for “Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe”, which translates to Porsche double-clutch transmission. So, it’s the Porsche version of the dual-clutch gearbox!
What is a dual-clutch transmission? It's very simple: it's a gearbox with an architecture similar to a manual transmission, but with two clutches instead of one, and electronically controlled. The first clutch handles the even gears and the second handles the odd gears. And at any time, when a gear is engaged, the second clutch pre-engages the next gear.
In addition to that, you have the choice of either shifting the gears yourself, as with a manual gearbox, or letting the transmission do the shifting.
What are the advantages of the Porsche dual-clutch gearbox?
The architecture and operation of the Porsche PDK as a dual-clutch transmission gives it many advantages, first of all over a manual transmission.
Indeed, as the next gear is always pre-engaged, the Porsche dual-clutch gearbox eliminates idle times. The result is ultra fast gear changes, with the PDK in the 911 Type 992 taking only 0.1 second to change gears! In comparison, specialists from the renowned Car and Driver magazine only managed to shift from first to second gear in 0.3 second with the manual gearbox available on this same generation of 911. This is also true for the automatic gearboxes with a conventional design. That's how efficient the PDK gearbox is!
It’s also a tremendously versatile transmission. For example, you can choose to shift gears yourself like you would do with a manual gearbox, for maximum driving pleasure in dynamic driving or on the racetrack. On the other hand, if you are driving in the city, you can let the gearbox shift the gears by itself. This means that you can choose between performance/driver involvement, and comfort! In spite of this staggering increase in performance, the PDK remains very frugal. For example, a current model of the 911 Carrera S equipped with the PDK boasts a combined fuel consumption rating of 11.7 L/100 km. Its mechanical equivalent does better, with 11.3 L/100 km in the combined cycle as well. However, the difference is not that significant, especially considering the output it generates!
Therefore, the PDK transmission offers the best of both worlds. Faster than a manual gearbox in manual mode, but with the option to let it shift gears automatically: with the PDK, you can have your cake and eat it too!
The development of the PDK transmission: a long story!
For many people, the PDK transmission from Porsche is a relatively new development. And they would be right, at least for the production range! It was first available for the 2009 model-year of the Porsche 911.
However, the concept is much older, dating back to the 1980s. And as it is often the case in Zuffenhausen, it was born out of the manufacturer's requirements for racing. The famous Porsche 962 was equipped with a six-speed version of this transmission, with “dry” clutches. As a result, this Porsche race car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with it, in 1986 and 1987, which was unprecedented at the time, since the gear changes were ultra-fast and without any break time in torque.
However, Porsche took the time to fine-tune it during the 1990s and 2000s, in order to offer a transmission that was ultra-efficient but usable on the road. It would eventually replace the venerable Tiptronic automatic gearbox in 2009, as mentioned above, and then become more widely available across the manufacturer's range.
Today, it's the default choice at Porsche for anyone looking for a gearbox with an automatic mode while offering superior performance to traditional manual and automatic transmissions. It's available on a wide range of models, from the timeless Porsche 911 to the Macan and Panamera, as well as for the 718 range.
You still have questions about the Porsche PDK gearbox? Contact us directly at Porsche Rive-Sud, your dealer of choice on the South Shore of Montreal! We will answer all your interrogations and will show you the models available with this incredible transmission. We look forward to seeing you soon at the dealership!