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Formula Motorsports

Porsche PDK Double Clutch Transmission

By Michael Tashjian • October 20, 2015

Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe has proven to be the greatest leap in overall performance for the production series Porsche since the advent of the turbocharger. Lightening fast gearshifts and uncompromising reliability combined with two true separate driving fashions result in the most enjoyable and practical Porsche driving experience to date. The most common question from our members is unquestionably “How does it work?”
Let’s begin with the first examples of PDK “type” transmission, campaigned by the Chaparrel Company in conjunction with GM in the 1960’s during the CanAm era. (note: there have been numerous claims to design of the dual clutch transmission, however for the purposes of this article we will concentrate on the one that actually worked fairly reliably on a high horsepower documented racecar with the same principles of today’s PDK.)
The 2J’s rudimentary transmission was the first notable attempt to use this technology in a racing car. It could withstand the horsepower that was being delivered, (though not always reliably) and worked in conjunction fairly well with the parameters set by the engineering in this oddly designed prototype racecar. In years to come Porsche would build upon the ideas of GM and Pete Weismann’s Williams F1 design from the 1993 model year, introducing this technology into the 956 and later 962, and finally into the production 2009 cars. Not withstanding Peugeot and Renault’s versions, the PDK we refer to today and will concentrate on in this article is the 7DT-45 or CG1.00.​

Simply stated a PDK transmission always has two gears engaged. The transmission’s computer effectively turns on one wet clutch while turning the other off via solenoid. This was not the case with the 956/962, which from a standstill need human actuation of a clutch. The PDK case has two shafts with gears on one and 2.4.6. on the other, we now have constant power that gives the driver the ability to shift within 200 milliseconds. To answer the question that is likely burning in your mind right now, yes, this will be expensive to repair should there be a failure. Let me note that the PDK has proven to be one of the most reliable transmissions Porsche has ever developed. At high RPM, in the tightest of corners, on the most demanding road circuits, the shift can be achieved without virtually any disturbance to balance thanks to sensors that determine if the shift is possible on a corner and/or based on overall engine RPM and other factors. Gone now are the days of throttle blipping as this is now done electronically on both the 7 speed manual and PDK transmission, as well as overrev limitation due to gear selection mistakes. I know there are some of you using the tiptronic type transmission via the 964/996/997.1 saying how different can it be? It is not even in the same ballpark.
Granted, PDK paddle shifting and auto mode takes some of the sport out of it, but that is also what we said when ABS came out. Beyond these performance enhancements, a much more profound and exhilarating gearshift sound accompanies the already high-pitched purr of the 3.8 DFI engine found in the acclaimed GT3 model. Over the course of the past 7 years, software updates and design changes have made the PDK experience even more performance oriented with various mapping programs built in and a redesign of the PDK transmission itself most notably in the Panamera models. Whether you’re using the paddle shifter (after uproar over the gen. 1 buttons located on the steering wheel), shifter or automatic mode, the overall driving experience is second to none.
Whether one should purchase a 7-speed manual or a PDK is ultimately up to personal taste and usage. I myself would be unlikely to ever purchase a Porsche without PDK again, and I doubt that was the feeling during the Sportomatic and Tiptronic era of any Porsche driver. But there are purists out there that love the nostalgia of the 7 speed which I personally find rather lethargic in nature compared to the 6 speeds of prior models. Either way, the 991 has, does and always will provide the utmost driver interaction.

As a note for our members: if you experience poor shifting, noise, leaks, or any abnormal driving condition with your PDK transmission, your technician can recalibrate various systems to counteract most of these conditions and therefore restore your driving experience to what it should be: pure bliss.