Tips, Tricks & Trends

Yes, You Can Drift a Porsche with a PDK Transmission

2020 Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 is one of the most well-rounded sports cars you can buy. But what about its drifting capabilities? German for Doppelkupplungsgetreibe, basically a dual-clutch gearbox in English, a PDK in a Porsche uses two clutches to shift gears almost instantly. And as the video below shows, you can still clutch kick a Porsche with a PDK transmission.

What is drift?

Drift is a type of driving technique that race car drivers use when they make corner turns. While they’re moving forward, the driver intentionally oversteers, allowing the car to shift on either of the side axles. While this is happening, only the back wheels lose traction. A driver who is totally familiar with the art of drifting is able to keep control of the car the whole time while executing the corner turn. Since Japanese race car drivers such as Kunimitsu Takahashi introduced drifting in the 1970s, this power management technique has risen to the level of competitive motorsport that is recognized worldwide. Competitions are held regularly each year, and the quality of the drift is usually judged by angle, line, style, speed, and show factor according to Porsche Newsroom.

In the video above, drift pro driver Odi Bakchis demonstrates the drift technique using the handbrake. Attack the corner, he tells us, turn the car in, grab the hand brake and enter into the drift. You can also initiate the drift by clutch kicking: Push in the clutch and release it rapidly, lighting up the back wheels and sliding the car. In addition, Bakchis tells us, when the car is sideways, allow yourself to modulate the throttle. Keep the car in control so that it stays on course, but don’t oversteer.

About the Porsche PDK

Porsche Newsroom reports the benefits of a double-clutch transmission. First of all, the gears are distributed between two separate clutches in the PDK. The odd shifts are connected to clutch I and the even gears are connected to clutch II, so that you can make fully automatic gear changes without traction interruption. The gear shifts actually take place through computer-aided electrohydraulics, and there is a combination of manual and automatic shifting involved.

The introduction of the first Porsche PDK with a semiautomatic Sportomatic transmission back in 1967 was met with great skepticism in the professional racing world, Porsche Newsroom tells us. It was inconceivable that you would have an automatic transmission in a real race car. Supposedly, the PDK was to bring comfort to driving  —  but the idea of comfort in a race car was equally unappealing for true race car professionals. So the PDK had to win its audience over back in the day.

Advantages of a PDK

However, after several generations of PDKs have come into being, and after the rise of drifting as competitive motorsport, the PDK was not just acceptable. It became recognized as essential for drifting to those who knew how to use it to their advantage. In other words, what it means for a driver in the Porsche to have a PDK is that they can keep their foot on the gas and accelerate from 0 to 100 miles in a few seconds. And when drifting is concerned, you want to be able to get the car up to speed and control it as quickly as possible. Plus, since there’s no traction interruption on the front wheels, the driver can maintain maximum control as they make the corner. 

First available in 2008 with just the seven-speed PDK that came in the 911 Carrera and the 911 Carrera S, the Panamera now only comes in the eight-speed PDK II since 2016. According to Porsche Newsroom, Porsche drivers will keep moving towards adopting automated transmissions in the future. 

It’s also expected that the Porsche PDK be a favorite among professional drifters as long as drift competitions enjoy their popularity on a global scale—and that the Porsche PDK, now with its eight gears, will continue to be a favorite among competitors and spectators alike. So unlike the initial entrance of the Porsche PDK on the racing scene back in 1967, nobody is expecting today’s Porsche PDK car to be going away soon.