A few weeks ago, I named the GT3 RS as the best car I drove in 2016. That got me pondering why I loved it so much, and it struck me that one of the most memorable things about it was the PDK automatic gearbox’s shifter.
I can almost hear you all switching off right now, but stick with me. By shifter I don’t mean the steering wheel-mounted paddles: no, I mean the one integrated into the gear selector itself. Mostly because it’s the right damn way around.
As someone who’s grown up watching rally cars and racing cars with sequential gearboxes that are shifted with a ruddy great pole that’s pulled toward the driver to change up, that’s instinctively what I want to do when using these kinds of gear selectors. And yet a huge amount are set up the wrong way around.
Perhaps it’s because to the average Joe it makes sense that forward goes up a gear, but to me it seems plain wrong. And out of the performance cars I’ve driven recently that do have these kind of selectors (many cars have either buttons or - in the case of Mercedes - column-mounted shifters), it’s a complete mix of some getting it right and some wrong.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and BMW M4 get it ‘right’ for instance, whereas the Audi R8 - in fact all VW Group cars I can think of - the Lexus GS F and the Volvo V60 Polestar all get it ‘wrong’. In fact most Porsche shifters up until recently were ‘backwards’.
Thankfully that’s not the case anymore, and in the GT3 RS with its violently efficient dual-clutch gearbox, it means you’re in for a real treat when gunning through the gears. I actually found myself using the satisfyingly girthy, part aluminium selector as much as the paddles, pretending I was behind the wheel of some monstrous 1980s racing car at Spa Francorchamps.
Perhaps it’s weird to pick out something small like this as the most memorable part of such an astonishing car, but it’s something which has really stuck in my head. As the cool kids like to say on Instagram, #takemeback…