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Porsche Copies Nissan's Playbook, Adds Rev-Matched Downshifting


2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

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There is a simple joy in a properly rev-matched manual gearbox downshift that’s near impossible to describe. For a brief moment in time, years of practice blend muscle memory, mechanical motion and precision timing to yield perfect harmony between man and machine.

Some manual-transmission drivers will never achieve this state of auto-zen, content to row their own gears without upping their game, or daunted by the challenge of the rev-matching sequence. Worse, others will take the paddle-shifted path to Nirvana, which requires only the spending of money and not the perfection of timing.

There’s a third option, too, previously delivered by Nissan on manual transmission 370Z models equipped with the $3,030 Sport Package. Called SynchroRev Match, the feature allows drivers to downshift with confidence, as the engine automatically raises speed to match the lower gear selected (within the engine’s redline limit, of course).

The result is perfectly executed downshifts, without going though all the trouble of learning heel-toe driving and rev-matching on your own. For purists, the system adds nothing but expense, and our personal preference is to drive with SynchroRev Match off when Nissan tosses us the keys to a manual transmission 370Z.

As Car and Driver reports, Porsche is getting on the the action, too. Its latest 911 Carrera 4 models will offer “automatic double-declutching” during downshifts on cars equipped with the seven-speed manual gearbox and the Sport Chrono package.

Unlike Nissan’s system, which can be driver-deactivated at the touch of a button, Porsche’s system is alway active when the car is in Sport Plus mode (though it remains off in Normal and Sport modes). In other words, the new 911 Carrera 4 doesn’t care how good a driver you are, it thinks it can handle things more proficiently.

We don’t really see that as a step forward, and making things worse, the technology is expected to trickle down to other 911 models. Eventually, it will find its way into the Boxster and Cayman as well, perhaps driving yet another nail in the coffin of the manual-transmission driving experience.
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