Perhaps, with traffic seemingly always getting worse people just don’t want to deal with that pesky third pedal. After all, it’s pretty easy to get into a car and shift into drive. But is it as fun ?
Vehicle engineers are designing automatic transmissions so good that its hard to fault anyone for not buying a manual anymore. Take BMW’s M5, for instance, it has a twin clutch transmission that is capable of handling more than 500hp but will allow the car to doddle around town. Having that much power on a manual would require stiff clutch springs and this in turn would create a very stiff or heavy clutch feel. Not everyone wants that in a luxury car.
Better still when you go to use all that power the transmission changes to an aggressive set up at the push of a button. Millisecond up-shifts, rev matching down-shifts, and when your done, hit the button and its back to normal.
Options you wouldn’t have with a manual, it’s hard to argue in favor of the latter. Lightening fast shifts, it will never have a woefully embarrassing mis-shift, and if you feel the need to shift manually, you have the shift paddles located behind the steering wheel.
On paper, the new automatics are the way to go, or are they? Sure you’ll never mis-shift, but at the same time you’ll never get it right either, because technically you didn’t do anything, the car did. That rewarding feeling of not popping the clutch on a hill and pulling away seamlessly. For me, as good as the new automatics are, they take away the mistakes, and thus the reward for getting everything right. For me the 2-3 upshift is an incredibly rewarding shift when driving a vehicle, and consequently going back the other way is just as fun.
Rev matching on down shifts getting that perfect heel/toe motion as you prepare for the next corner. I love all the foot work that goes into shifting and driving a manual transmission. It makes the driving experience so much more cohesive, driver and machine as one. Not that you can’t get that feeling driving an auto but I can’t help but feel I’m missing out on something.
Don’t get me wrong, automatic transmissions are great, long drives and heavy traffic why bother with a manual? Furthermore the unfortunate reality is that scenario is likely what your car will see the most of. Still though, I hold on to my manual, inching along in traffic waiting for the weekend country drive that makes it all worth it.
Author: Colby Gregg