Why Do I feel So “Meh” About The 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS?

Porsche 991 GT3 RS vs 991 GT3

The new Porsche 911 (991) GT3 RS officially dropped at the Geneva Motor Show this week after much anticipation. As you might expect, many in the automotive journalism world sound 100% excited about this new “raw” 911. I am not someone who merely reports the figures, though, anyone can do that. I do this blog so that I can offer up my genuine honest opinion on cars and the auto industry. And, frankly, as cool as the new GT3 RS is, I feel a bit let down by Porsche. Here’s why…

2016 Porsche 991 GT3 RS 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Like the standard GT3, the GT3 RS only comes equipped with the PDK paddle shift gearbox. PDK is probably the best paddle shift tranny on the market, but it still takes a lot of the desirability out of a car like a GT3 RS for me.

Porsche’s competition, Ferrari and Lamborghini, each offered both manual and auto-manual paddle shift options on their cars for ten years before they decided to ditch stick shifts. That is because they actually saw less and less customers buy manuals with every new model that came out. Ferrari and Lamborghini had very clear evidence from their markets that paddle shift was what they wanted.

Porsche, on the other hand, didn’t even release their auto-manual paddle shift, PDK, until 2009. It replaced their “Tiptronic” automatic, which was not enthusiast oriented at all. Within a year of releasing PDK, Porsche released the 997 Turbo S without the option of a manual… having less than a single year of market observation.  No you can’t buy a manual 911 Turbo or GT3 model of any sort…. and who asked them to do that? I’m not necessarily saying PDK isn’t in demand, I’m saying Porsche couldn’t possibly know given the information they’ve had.

Frankly, Porsche has just forced PDK on their customers without due cause to do so. Porsche customers are generally more purist-oriented than Ferrari and Lamborghini customers, and I think Porsche has made a terrible mistake by ditching their manual gearboxes. The current 991 GT3 and GT3 RS would’ve been the perfect models to get a clear answer from customers on what they want. Porsche should be offering both manual and PDK options on all of their sports cars, and comparing the actual sales numbers. (It is also a mistake to assume that a Carrera buyer and a GT3 buyer are similar in taste)

So, the GT3 RS is supposed to be the most hardcore driver’s 911, it is supposed to be an expert-level thrill ride. The new one just doesn’t hold up to that, though. It comes fitted with every luxury feature available in the standard 911, and now that it’s PDK only, Paris Hilton could comfortably take it shopping in tall heels. This is not what a hardcore performance car is supposed to be, I’m sorry.

While the older 997 GT3 RS’s did come with many luxury features, they at least had the manual gearbox to serve as a barrier between serious drivers and red carpet poseurs. That’s gone now, and that is why the values of all late-model manual GT3 and GT3 RS have been skyrocketing in the last few years.

Look, I’m sure the new GT3 RS will be “the fastest 911 ever” around a race track… until the next generation comes out and beats it. But where is the lasting appeal?

2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS (991)                          2004 Porsche 911 GT3 RS (996)
Porsche 991 GT3 RS Interior
 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 RS Interior

Ten years from now the modern state-of-the-art PDK gearbox will feel clunky and outdated. It won’t be the fastest anymore, and all that will matter is the “fun factor” to secondhand buyers. Long term, the PDK gearbox will detract from the car’s appeal, whereas a well-executed manual gearbox will always be fun for drivers. That is why the older manual GT3s and RSs will continue to climb in value, and why the values of these new paddle shift-only cars will most likely drop like a rock after the next generation comes out.

A similar situation can be seen right now with Ferrari 360s. Manual 360s are appreciating in value, whereas paddle shift 360s continue to drop.

I think Porsche has lost their way somewhat with their road cars, I really do. They seem to have forgotten that a sports car is something that people enjoy on their day off. Fun is the real point of a car like this, whether the owner is out driving on the street or attending a track day event. A manual gearbox requires more activity from the driver, offering a genuine connection between you and the machine. Lap times be damned, rowing your own gears will ALWAYS be more fun.

Let any driving enthusiasts drive this new PDK GT3 RS back to back with the previous manual 997 GT3 RS 4.0, and I promise you that they will all prefer the older car with the stick shift. Backing up my point here, values of 997 RS 4.0s are currently around $300,000.

Just imagine what the demand would’ve been like had Porsche offered a manual GT3 RS. Rich people would’ve been piling over one another to place an order, especially with the standard GT3 as PDK only. But as things are, I don’t see any real reason to spend the extra $46,000 to have the RS over the standard GT3. Sure, the RS will be faster, and maybe those two letters will add inches to your manhood at a Porsche Club Meet. But from behind the wheel, I just don’t see the cars being all that different, certainly not $46,000 worth at all.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS vs Cayman GT4

Honestly, I still like the new Porsche Cayman GT4 better than both of these 911 GT3 models. And yes, it entirely because of the manual gearbox in the Cayman. In 10 years the Cayman GT4 will be just as enjoyable as it is today, whereas both 911 GT3s will feel like clunky dinosaurs.

If you’re looking to buy a 911 GT3 model, though, you’d probably be smart to save your $46,000 and buy the standard GT3 because it remains the best value in all of the 911 range.

That said, if you do have the $200,000 budget to afford the new GT3 RS, you would be A LOT smarted to put that money into a previous-gen 997 GT3 RS. Simply put, you will most likely make money on it. Porsche seems to love the idea of making everything PDK. As they continue to do so, the great 911s of old will continue to be coveted by the real driving enthusiasts out there, thus commanding higher and higher prices. It’s simple supply and demand economics.
As for the new GT3 RS. It looks cool, and I’m sure it’ll be fast and lots of fun here in 2015. But I really don’t think it will have the same long-term appeal of previous-gen GT3s. So buyer beware.

-Nick Walker

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30 thoughts on “Why Do I feel So “Meh” About The 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS?”

  1. You make some compelling points but your assumtptions about gt3rs buyers are unfounded.
    For example, jerry seinfeld, on of the most well known and well heeled porsche fans prefers the PDK in all cars.
    He views it as an automated manual and uses it to actively shift gears. To argue he is an outlier without evidence, especially given porsche’s sales figures, is unconvincing.

    As for used car values, lets see how they do now that a new car is out…

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    1. I would argue he is an outlier. And as for the values of previous gen 911s… You dont see 993s dropping yet, even 3 generations into water cooling. While I agree water cooling did need to happen. They go too far to get rid of a manual gearbox in their best cars without a decade of directly comparable sales figures to prove demand for manuals has actually fallen to the point of not being worth making. They have not done that. And until they do I, and most other purists, will continue to criticize their decisions.

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      1. Even if you were a “non-purist” you are free to criticize their decisions.
        The reality is even “purists” do not purchase these cars. Unless one of my two little girls becomes the next Taylor Swift then I sure as hell will never be able to buy one.
        So even if your criticism were valid how can you argue that a company should make cars for a group of people who will never buy them?
        The fact is that they will sell everyone of these cars to happy customers who do not miss a manual. Jerry is an outlier–in terms of income to afford one of these. In terms of a person who lights foreign cigars with 100 dollar bills who would prefer their supercar to be as easy to operate fast as possible without losing speed yet perfectly usable in traffic, he is pretty common.

        Again, we’ll see how many people really clamor for the “old” GT3 once the new on is out. I think the used market for the older cars is due to the fact that they are available. With a new, arguably better, car available the demand for the old ones will, I bet, drop accordingly.

        Yes, there will be people who still want to buy them but not because of the manual. If, for example, I come in to some cash, I would be looking into a used GT3rs, not because of the transmission but because a used one is the best Porsche in my price range.

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      2. So the fact that manual GT3 prices skyrocketed right after Porsche announced that new GT3s and Turbos would be PDK only counts for nothing then? The market for specialty Porsches behaves just like the market for economy cars, and everyone was just waiting for a new model? Please, tell me more about how you can find loads of 993s for under $10k, because 996s are worth like 15-25k, but they are a newer model so they must be worth more, right?

        That isn’t how this market works at all my friend. The real issue at play is that most enthusiasts buy used cars that are better than what they could buy brand new at all levels of the market. Now, yes, people are generally lazy, and that is why Paddle shift has become so successful. Cuz everyone with loads of money and little actual driving skill can now drive a car that would’ve killed them ten years ago. There are good and bad aspects to that, but when it winds up killing off the best stuff for people who can actually drive them, then it is a problem.

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      3. You seem to be saying these golden turbos and GT3’s with a manual are and will continue to be sought after by enthusiasts. Can I assume you are constantly on the hunt for these amazing investments on the used market so you can make money on them later? Hell, why not buy four to keep the mileage on each low, cycle a new one each weekend, and then sell for a profit later when gt3 buyers leave the dealer weeping that they can’t get a manual and can’t wait to overpay for your manual gt3? Let me know how that goes, I’m rooting for you. “Prices Skyrocketed” is just your conjecture. There is no evidence that prices actually went up (a quick auto trader search shows nothing special) and even if they did why do you assume it was because of the manual option?

        You can’t find 993’s for 10k because of simple supply and demand. Prices on them are up now because they dipped for a while a few years back and the market is fickle there is an uptick in interest right now.

        I am not really disagreeing with you much. I would LOVE to someday drive, let alone own a manual Porsche GT3 or GT3RS or even turbo for that matter. But I, nor you, are the target market here.

        The people with “Jerry” money cross shopping ferrari’s and lambos etc., all auto of course, are not yearning for manuals. Porsche wants to sell them a better car that can be used everyday and they are succeeding: PDK is better in traffic, faster at the track and loved by a vast majority of customers who buy new Porsches.

        Porsche is therefore doing the logical thing and offering the car in its best and most popular configurations rather than making a manual so that the few that opt for it can then provide you and I with good buying options on the used market.

        How then can you “criticize” them for offering a car that will sell out its production run yielding happy customers and profits (more $ because no $ used developing a manual) based upon the actions of people who would not buy the car new?

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      4. You don’t seem to grasp how Porsche values work. Any time there is a major change to the car, porsche purists complain and the value of the older cars goes up, and generally stays up. The 993 was the epitome of the air cooled 911, thats why they have appreciated. The 997 will likely be the epitome of the manual 911, so it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the values will go up so long as Porsche continues making PDK only models. And I wouldn’t call the rise in value of a 997.2 GT3 RS from around 100k in 2012 or so to 170-200k an insignificant phenomenon. The increase happened after Porsche announced the new GT3s would only be PDK. That is very clear evidence, in fact I dont believe there could be any clearer evidence of demand for manual Porsches. Porsches are not Ferraris, and niether are Lambos. Theyre all a bit different in terms of the buyers and what people want from each type of car. You can’t just lump them together, and to do so shows ignorance.

        PS. If I did have the money, I would buy four 997 GT3 RSs as an investment. Maybe the most sure bet you can buy right now.

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    2. No need to get testy.
      1. You are still arguing that Porsche should make changes based upon what the used market does, even assuming you are right about the market swings.
      2. If you could have bought a GT3RS for 100K at anytime it was undervalued and you should have bought ten. Not because it was a manual but because you were getting the deal of the century. These are limited cars and sought after, if indeed they were ever 100k then they were undervalued. Manual or PDK has nothing to do with it.
      3. Even if I take you for a Porsche market expert with a photographic memory of GT3RS values, where is the evidence that these values jumped because the prior car was a manual? Because a lot of people complained? Because you complained? Did you take a survey?

      The fact is these cars are amazing, limited, and will always be sought after. Once the current ten run of turbos and GT3’s sells out–proving Porsche right–we’ll see how they plummet in value on the used market because they are PDK only. Do you really think a 2015 PDK GT3RS will be worth less than a manual 997.2 in 3 years? 5 years? Ever?

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      1. 997 GT3RS will absolutely be worth more than 991 GT3RS in 10 years. Just look at the price difference between a 73 and 74 911S. The difference between the two are much more minor than the differences the 997 and 991 GT3s.

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      2. In 10 years the current generation of PDK will feel clunky and unrefined, and it will detract from the car’s appeal, just as with early F1-equipped Ferraris right now. Manuals are simple and timeless, paddle shifts are very much dated by the level of technology available at the time, namely their programming. Ever driven a paddle shift car with a slipping clutch? I have, and the computer simply wont let it into gear. Meanwhile I had my clutch go in my STI in traffic, and I was still able to get it home without it. A manual is just simpler, and its timeless. If manuals keep disappearing, then the values of great manual cars will only increase…. Its already been proven by the market.

        The difference between a 73 and 74 RS is nowhere near the level of difference between the 997 and 991 RS. Namely because a handicapped grandma could drive a 991 but could never drive a 997 simply due to the transmissions equipped.

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    1. Question #1 to add some context to what you say… can you drive a stick competently?

      Question #2, if you can indeed drive stick, what manual Porsches have you driven? And what PDK Porsches have you driven?

      Just wondering.

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  2. Honestly, I’m getting tired of all these journalists complaining about losing the manual. I’ve had two manual 911s, and what I loved about them was not whether or not I was able to shift gears myself, but the Porsche-ness (yes, not a real word) of the experience. Unless you actually have owned a Porsche and driven it regularly, you have no clue what that actually means, and it has nothing to do with being able to shift manually or not. Porsche knows how to make Porsches better than any arm-chair quarterback, so stop second guessing them and enjoy what they put out. Besides, would you really rather have the exact same car every single year over and over, or would you like to see changes and new things come along? Progress is a good thing.

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    1. I wrote this article as someone who does, in fact, drive a manual 911 regularly, and Porsches in general for the last decade (the entire time I’ve had a license actually). I’ve also driven numerous other manual and PDK-equipped Porsches… everything from a 911 Carrera 4S, 911 Turbo S, Cayman R, various Panameras, Cayennes, Boxsters, etc. So I am quite aware of “what it means to drive a Porsche”, and I drive them at a much higher level of their potential than most Porsche owners out there… it’s about driving, not looking cool/portraying a certain image. I’ve driven Porsches on the street as well as on the race track. Hell, I learned to drive on a 944 S2.

      With all of my experience, I have expressed my opinion on the matter in this article. PDK is probably the best DCT trans out there, but it doesn’t offer the same level of fun/engagement/satisfaction that a manual offers. The feeling of a perfectly-executed redline shift at full throttle in a 911 sends chills down my spine, it is an electrifying experience. I’ve done the same in PDK models, and it just doesn’t have the same effect. If you don’t agree, then you probably haven’t driven your Porsches properly.

      What it means to drive a Porsche is to be able to be fully immersed in the various exciting aspects of the driving experience. Put simply, Porsches are fun in all aspects, and without a manual, there are just less things to enjoy. Even if you are cruising along at the speed limit, you can still enjoy the immediacy and connected feeling of the steering and chassis. Every aspect of the car is finely tailored to excite the senses, and a manual shift is a HUGE part of that experience to loose. You lose the feel of the clutch pedal, the crisp feel of the shifter, and most of all you lose the coordinative skill required to drive the car… and the resulting satisfaction that comes from mastering it.

      PDK is great in many ways, but it takes most of the skill and satisfaction out of driving, unless you are going at blatantly illegal speeds. Sure it’s great taking a Porsche to the race track, but most (even GT3s) are used on public roads, simply for fun. A manual makes that experience far more enjoyable, and that is why we journalists keeps fighting to save it. For us PDK makes a Porsche more mundane/boring, and that very much goes against “What driving a Porsche is all about.”

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  3. i guess, by this logic, we should look for models without anti-lock brakes as well… if you’ve ever experienced going into a turn too hot and locked up the fronts…. it is WAY more involving… :-). better brakes, gearboxes, engine power profiles, tires, suspension, 4wd, active aero devices, new modern lighter stiffer materials, all changes the driving experience. there is no picking among them… you have to take them all as they come. Ancient man worshiped the sun.

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  4. I don’t like when the manual versus PDK argument comes down to the “then you must be just as upset about anit-lock brakes, power steering, enhanced suspension…etc: No, none of the other advancements or changes hold a candle to the way going from stick to PDK (or whatever auto) alters the driving experience. It changes it fundamentally. Shifting is a non-stop active engagement between driver and car that nothing else compares to.

    Of course, I can only assume that Porsche knows darn well exactly how many less Turbos or GT3s they will sell because of going with PDK only. Furthermore, I am sure it is simple economics. They would offer manual if it made them money, but it’s come to a point, at least on certain 911 iterations, that offering manual is a losing proposition economically. And, it’s a choice they feel comfortable with all the while knowing that they are pissing some purists off.

    I am only one person, but I can tell you that I looked long and hard at buying a Turbo S. I wanted to like the PDK experience. I lied to myself and justified and used every trick in the book. In the end, it sucked a major part of my Porsche experience from me and I correctly decided not to buy it. It actually makes me a little angry that I can finally afford my dream car only for them not to make it anymore. In my eyes, not offering the manual is exactly the same as discontinuing the 991 Turbo S. To add insult to injury I could not even buy my next choice, a GT3, because they stopped making those as well. But you know what I did? I bought a GTS coupe. That’s right. Porsche still got my money. See, they can stop making those other models and guys like me will just buy what they still offer in manual. I do have a line that I WILL NOT CROSS. IF they drop the manual from the entire 911 lineup as some have pontificated, this will be my last Porsche. This is my third P car so that will be a sad day indeed.

    The manual Porsche driving experience is THAT important to some people.

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    1. Very well put. But why buy a Carrera GTS when you could have a manual 997 GT3 for the same price? Unlike the Carrera, the GT3 won’t be losing value so long as Porsche continues the PDK only GT3.

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    1. There are already millions of manual cars on this planet. We don’t need to adapt, we’ll just buy those cars if manual actually does cease to exist. Meanwhile, you should probly learn to drive stick.

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  5. Porsche said PDK is much faster than a manual transmission. The whole point was to create a faster race car. Mission accomplished.

    Ferrari does not have a stick….why do they sell so many of their paddle shifting cars? 🙂

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    1. Never argued PDK wasn’t faster. But there is a little something called fun, which paddle shift is lacking compared to a manual. For a road car, fun is more important than out-right speed. Think I’m wrong?…. Then explain why the values of manual GT3s have skyrocketed since Porsche announced the new GT3s would be PDK only. And explain why values of manual Ferraris have gone up, while identical models with paddle shift continue to fall. It is clear.

      To simply argue about it being faster in the context of a street car, which is used as a weekend toy, is entirely irrelevant. You must have had a good dose of the marketing koolaid haha

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  6. As someone that has owned a number of Porsches both new and second hand since 1997, and as someone that has owned a Tiptronic and has tried PDK fairly extensively, I’ll put it as baldly as this. If you think that the Tiptronic box was even vaguely acceptable, and if you prefer PDK to manual having given both a fair shake, then you either have some sort of physical handicap (no offence implied of you do) or you have a very different idea to me of what the whole effort/fun/reward equation should be in a sports car. Some people love a nice car and enjoy going for a drive. Others love driving. Last time I drove a PDK (Cayman GTS) I was so bored after half a day in it that I was seeing if I could get the gearbox to play a tune for me. Yawn. I am gutted to have zero interest in the latest GT3 offerings due to the mobility gearbox. Ditto the Panamera. A nicely specified manual Cayenne GTS or Panamera remains on the list as well, and to confirm what was written above, I’d pay way over regular market value for a manual car.

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  7. I think the argument has merit from both sides, but I have to give it to the manual gear box theory. Recently a close friend of my purchased a GT3 PDK because he never learned to drive a manual. He loved the car, but didn’t like the perception of being a poseur as he knew that he would have never purchased the 997 GT3 because it was only offered in manual. Long story short he got rid of his GT3 PDK and purchased a manual M5 so he can learn and get the true driving experience as a weekend driver.

    I also believe the shift to PDK only for GT3 and Turbos has created a sense of urgency for some to start purchasing manual gearbox GT3, Turbos and other 911 models. Let’s face it the PDK is all around better and ticks all the boxes except for the “fun” factor that only comes from rowing your own gears.

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  8. then why are GT3RS SELLING FOR $400,000.00 NOW… with the dreaded PDK?

    GT3s are selling for a paltry $160K+ with the same.

    regarding Paris Hilton driving a GT3 or GT3RS down Rodeo Dr to buy a new Gucci purse being your ISSUE with PDK???

    Let’s say that model would be her choice (doubtful), my question is this… Do you anticipate seeing Paris Hilton ON THE TRACK with her GT3 after her shopping spree? I mean.. afterALL.. that’s where TRUE car “enthusiasts” test their skills.

    no?

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    1. Its called new car hype and dealer markups. Wait and see where they are in 5 years. Also Porsche clearly knows they made a mistake because they’re bringing out the 911R… Basically a manual GT3 for people who can actually drive.

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  9. Okay so I bought a GT3 PDK. I had a manual before, the 997 GT3. Had the GTS 991 too. I agree with the thread that manual is more involving no doubt about it. PDK is for sure faster especially on downshifts, but get the tricky 3rd to 2nd right on a manual and the endomorphins gush happiness into your system. Get it wrong, oh boy, cold sweat and w i d e understeer.

    The last ten years or so have seen a LOT of bum gearboxes that have spoilt some nice cars. Ferrari’s F1, Porsche’s Tiptronic, Lambo’s automated manual. Yuk, yuk and yuk again. This has made us rightfully prejudiced about anything automatic.

    The GT3 PDK is not perfect, it has some shunting issues at low speed . The regular PDK I had on the GTS was not nice as the car just wanted to go to 7th. It totally spoilt that car. Funnily enough the BoxterS PDK was actually quite perfect. Luckily the GT3’s ratios are well spaced so it is the choice PDK…..

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  10. As Anonymous said: “I think the argument has merit from both sides…”

    This is an endless (just read the lengthy comments) and an unwinnable debate.

    You are both right.

    Nonetheless, at least, it is/was a brain stimulating debate.

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  11. The reality is that the PDK is significantly faster than a manual transmission. Furthermore, the customers buying these cars have a heavy preference for PDK. While there is the occasional enthusiast who would prefer the manual, the market demands PDK.

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