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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Well this lament is nothing new. It's not like stick shifts ruled the world in 1976. I think the biggest threat to performance cars is safety awareness which can be taken to the nth degree and ultimately render performance cars illegal for the street. Run-flat tires are another stone in the shoe. And of course BMW just had to be on the "leading edge" of this thanks to their new-age hubris. It's ironic how the safety mission coexists with the hp wars.
  • Selling England by the Pound -- Genesis.

    You win the cupie doll, Pat!

    Here in Cincinnati, the new generation of BMW's with that spanky new "35" twin turbo engine are rolling out -- at this point, the 335 sedan and coupes are RWD, but already the 328 is offered with AWD and next year the X drive option will be added for about $1900.

    It promises to be a brisk seller. Almost all, certainly, will be automatics. Try finding a stick to test drive.

    The 7 series (upcoming gen) too will be offered with AWD.

    Mercedes 4Matics are exclusively automatics.

    Some of the Audis can still be had with AWD, sport packages (that actually do change the suspension settings) AND stick shifts.

    But when the S4 sitting on the showroom floor is just as likely to be an auto as a stick, well, even that is indicative of American's (primarily) unwillingness to "eat beets" (or fill in the blank.)

    A friend of mine went to the salad bar at Ruby's one day and they had just put out a fresh container of small round beets. I said, "wow, fresh beets on my salad will be deelish." My friend said, "yeccchhh! beets." I said, "I didn't know you hated beets so much." He replied, "they're terrible, I've never had one, but I just know they're nasty tasting."

    Whattya gonna do?

    My current phrase -- and more than a phrase it is a LAMENT -- is, "good is the enemy of great."

    To me, even though I am starting to actually believe the automatic COULD be superior to the manual, there is one thing the stick does better FOR SURE: it INCREASES driving pleasure.

    I am now somewhat at odds with Shipo in that I do see "the case" for the argument that the auto equipped BMW's will permit, allow and encourage better, improved, & MORE control, performance and safety. Yet, I still think stick shifts are more involving and fun than ANY automatic.

    I have been a screaming voice in the wilderness for a long time. I saw Audis go from 90% stick to 75% stick to 50% stick to 90% auto over a period of time commencing in 1976 through today.

    My favorite car of all time was a 1995 S6. But, the best car I have ever had is my current all optioned 2005 A6 3.2.

    If I could have ONLY one of these two cars and could pick from the two of them, I would, for features and safety reasons pick my current car. Hands down, however, the S6 was more fun -- and I'll have to nominate the stick shift that it came with as the main contributor to that.

    Here's a list of [our] cars -- most of them sticks:

    1978 Audi 5000
    1979 Audi Fox GTI
    1982 4000 (with: funny upshift indicator on the dashboard)
    1984 4000S
    1984 Coupe
    1986 4000CS quattro (with the juiced up 5 cylinder engine)
    1986 Coupe (king of the hill)
    1987 5000CS turbo quattro
    1988 80 quattro sport
    1988 BMW 325ix (all wheel drive)
    1990 100 (automatic)
    1990 Coupe (with the 20V 5 cylinder engine)
    1991 100 quattro
    1992 100S
    1993 100S (pearl white)
    1993 90S quattro
    1994 90S quattro sport
    1995 S6 (what a blast to drive this "emerald green pearl with white leather sport seats" and the cool factory phone beauty)
    1996 A4 2.8
    1998 A4 2.8 (190 HP)
    1997 A8 4.2 w/S8 suspension upgrade (auto, of course)
    1999 A6 2.8 quattro (automatic)
    2000 TT quattro 180
    2000 A6 4.2 (automatic)
    2001 A6 4.2 sport (ditto)
    2001 TT 225
    2003 allroad 2.7T (6 speed to be clear)
    2003 TT 225
    2005 A6 3.2 (automatic)
    2005 BMW X3 3.0 (stick shift)

    ===========

    Twenty eight Audis in all. Two BMW's.

    ===========

    I am pretty certain we have had our last stick shift. If you can find an upcoming BMW 5X with a stick -- and you are so inclined to "eat beets" -- you'd better buy it, cause it is a dying breed, or perhaps it is already extinct and no one bothered to tell it yet.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    I like beets AND stick shifts! (And Genesis!) :P
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    o the "losses" previously attributable to automatic transmissions have been virtually banned in the newest transmissions(one has to assume the lost of power and perhaps even the loss of control Shipo discusses -- indeed some of the auto transmissions actually have identical 0 -100kph times as the stick shift versions even though the automatics have taller final drive ratios.)

    Actually, according to Porsche, the tip-auto 911 Turbo will outrun the stick to 60. The reason being that with the auto, you can brake-torque to 3,000rpm, spooling up the turbos before launch. The stick will not survive clutch drops at similar rpms.
  • I learned to drive a stick on a brand new 78 Audi 5000S. I was supposed to be driving it from Virginia to Pennsylvania for a DX (dealer exchange), and I had been assured that it would be an automatic because I didn't know how to drive a stick. I was all of 20 years old.

    But when I got there and freaked out because it had that third pedal, the dealer said no problem and took me out to teach me how to drive it. I got about ten minutes in rush hour traffic on a six-lane divided highway, and then he said bye bye and I took off for PA. The car I drove back was another (5000s) stick, too, but by then it didn't matter. I was hooked.

    All my cars since then have been 5 speeds--two Celicas, an ES 300, and my 530i spt. I am firmly in Shipo's camp--if it doesn't have a stick, I won't even consider it. I rode in my friend's 545 and listened to him rave about the paddle shifters, but after watching him play with them for five minutes or so, I was bored. It's like watching a movie of a bike ride along some gorgeous trail somewhere while you pedal on a stationary bike. What's the point? Just give me the real thing.

    Then there's rocking out of a slippery spot. Can even the new-improved-nothing-like-their-predecessors automatics equal a stick when it comes to that?

    I won't even mention that the more moving parts there are the more likely something will break.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    9 out of 10 Porsches sold are with sticks. The Z06 and Viper are MT. Real sport nut jobs love stick and is necessary for car companies who portray sport and offer sport.

    Those are reassuring stats. Or maybe not?

    I think BMW and Audi may find your stats very interesting and only offer their sticks to buyers who are willing to open their wallets a bit further for manual versions of M Series and Audi S and RS models. The plain vanilla BMWs and Audis will soon be offered solely with two pedals. If a person wants a stick then BMW and Audi will graciously offer that person a M series or RS for a mere $20k to $30K more.

    Oh yeah I know the M series and S/RS models are far better in every sense of the word and worth that price over their more plain siblings. You are not only paying for the stick you are also paying for improved performance and handling dynamics . Unfortunatley in that case driving a car with a stick will become far more elitist while the common man will just have to live the rest of his life with automatics. A sad fate indeed for most of mankind(especially the portion that loves sticks) :sick:
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Actually, according to Porsche, the tip-auto 911 Turbo will outrun the stick to 60. The reason being that with the auto, you can brake-torque to 3,000rpm, spooling up the turbos before launch. The stick will not survive clutch drops at similar rpms.

    Is it all about getting to the finish line fastest? Did not Schumacher himself say how much he prefers driving manual cars? Does not the added concentration involved with a third pedal and the "feeling of being one with the road" count for anything?

    Is it possible for humans to enjoy chess with the knowledge that a IBM supercomputer will beat the greatest chess master in the world? Ofcourse it is. Similarily does the enjoyment of driving manual become pointless because cars with auto trannies can outrace cars with manual trannies? Ofcourse not.

    There is definitely a lot to be said about shifting your own gears. If you've never done it before then you will never understand what I mean.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    There is definitely a lot to be said about shifting your own gears. If you've never done it before then you will never understand what I mean.

    I've "rowed my own" in plenty of cars. Probably the most notable was my first British sports car, my '62 Austin Healey 3000. It had a double-clutch four-speed manual with a dash mounted switch for OD in 3rd and 4th. Definitely the most unforgiving transmission I've ever used. You either do it the way it wants, or you walk, literally. There was definitely satisfaction in hammering home the 3rd > 2nd downshift in that car, as nobody else could do it the first time unless they were a Healey driver.

    I definitely would not have bought the car though if it was going to be a daily driver. I still think driving a stick is fun, but with traffic the way it is now rather than 30 years ago, I just don't think the positives of owning a MT car would outweigh the negatives. Just MO. On the other hand, I think SMGs (especially Audi's) rock. If you don't feel like shifting for yourself, you dont have to. With a MT, your SOL.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,206
    This puts me in the minority here, I've learned. I choose to shift my own gears. That puts me into a miniscule fraction of that minority. Oh, and I demand rear-wheel drive.

    BMW, G35, CTS & the C230 still offer me what I want. The fact that I choose to own my vehicle, regardless of warranty, means I care how much things cost to fix. Manuals rarely break, & when they do, they cost less to fix. Yeah, I know, who cares?

    Plus which, I can skip gears, engage the clutch slowly or not so slowly, or not at all, given the situation (which may not be what it was 0.5 seconds earlier).

    It's clear 3-7 of you understand what I'm saying & the rest couldn't care less. When BMW & Nissan stop selling manuals, I guess I'll go back to Miatas, or something else -- I'll give up the luxury long before I'll give up the sport.

    For me, this is the ultimate deal-breaker. I bought the car I've got only because it came with a manual. Bad example (they quit making the whole thing, manual or otherwise) I realize, but I guess I can look forward to saving money if the only cars that come with manuals in the future are cheaper ones.

    My next car will probably be a BMW 3-series, within the next year or two. It'll have a manual. After that, we'll see.

    The present car will turn 100K miles this week & it certainly hasn't been a maintenance nightmare. The next one won't be either, because it'll have only the minimum of options & a manual.

    KISS.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Dewey, hang in there. I wasn’t suggesting that you should be content to spend an additional $30K on a car to get three pedals. What I’m saying is that the manual transmission is still considerably represented. As such the influence is pretty healthy and if BMW plans to sustain its ultimate driving machine image it had better stick with the stick. Not only is it expected by the small percentage of their customers but also by the press who propagate that image. BMW turning into Lexus? Nah, I refuse to hear it.

    Now if you really want to read something hilarious about MTs check this out and try not to get depressed. This is really funny:

    Death to The Stick Shift

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

    ;-)
  • Out of all the posters here, whether you use standard shift or some amalgam of auto shift: Who actually runs there cars on the track? Who has run their respective cars to the limits with sweaty palms? I'm interested in hearing from the hard core of the group. No offense to the family car group, but I'd like to hear opinions from those who really like to drive?
  • LOLOL! Thanks for a sorely needed (by me, anyway) bit of levity.
  • I have a '96 Porsche 993 with a six speed manual and a BMW R1100RSL with a five speed sequential gear box. Both are great on a early weekend morning or out in the boonies. The Porsche has seen its share of PCA track days. I avoid getting caught in traffic in either.

    There is great satisfaction to be gained by the perfect upshift and even more by as perfect as possible downshift. In my view you really do have more control over the car. and I really could not imagine taking the E350 Sport or not to a track day.

    I think the real reason that sticks are on the endangered list is that some of the "autos" that allow you to change gears manually as you like give you 80% of the control you have with a stick but when you need a full auto you have it. The MB 7 speed is remarkably amenable to playing manual and unlike some it will not auto shift when it is not happy with what you are doing. Not that I plan on doing any track days with it.

    If I had to live with one vehicle, my painful reality is that it would have to be an auto. Fortunatly autos are still very rare on motorcycles so they remain a viable alternative in addition to being the ultimate experience in vehicle dynamics if you are so inclined.
  • Your unwillingness to fight for an LPS car with a stick shift is part and parcel of the reason(s) they will very soon be gone altogether.

    It is NOT you alone, of course. I have simply grown weary and/or broke trying to keep the stick alive.

    With some tongue in cheek, I say I have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into buying/leasing stick shift cars to no avail.

    Why? Cause the rest of the buying public has simply refused to do the same thing, regardless of the scale of the purchases.

    When I went to Ohio's largest BMW dealer today to test drive the new X3, I found that there were three in stock -- and not a one with a stick.

    One 335 coupe did have a stick. It was damn near the only car on the lot with a stick. This at a dealer that sells some 1200+ cars per year in a city with two Bimmer franchises.

    Other than the one 335 and my wife's X3, I can't remember the last time I saw a BMW with a stick shift.

    Folks around here must have tons of disposable income, for the number of 5 series that seems to be sold here defies my understanding of our socio-economic makeup.

    Try finding a manual 5er.

    True there are a few die hards, but even so, it would appear none of us -- and I hereby as of now include myself -- are willing to put out the kind of money that would get a manufacturer's attention.

    I did my part, for nearly 30 years -- let's see the rest of you shiftless never folks start ponying up the bucks and demanding stick shifts.

    When you reach -- pick a number -- $400,000 in stick shift cars (in a reasonable period of time), and if you all (or at least 51%) do this, well maybe, just maybe the stick can be saved.

    We have met the enemy and it is us.

    For me, at least, the good news is that the newest autos are quite good, the DSG's are better still and the instructors at the BMW school have given me pause to consider two hands on the wheel (at all times) gives the maximum control.

    Yet, somehow, nothing satisfies quite like BEEF, er, stick shifts.

    Write your Congressperson, write your dealer, write the manufacturer and tell them you want a stick shift.

    Good luck unless you are willing to spend money to make this happen.

    It just isn't happening is the bottom line.

    It was great while it lasted.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    One 335 coupe did have a stick. It was damn near the only car on the lot with a stick. This at a dealer that sells some 1200+ cars per year in a city with two Bimmer franchises.

    While there may not be many sticks on the lot, I think the stick will remain at least an option in the entry-lux class for the foreseeable future. I'm sure there are probably 0-1 TL Type S MTs on the lot, but you can get one. Same goes for the G35 sedan. There must be a lot more people interested in a 3300lb. MT car than a 4000lb. MT car.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    That Death to the Stick Shift article reminds me of a recent conversation I had with someone who religiously buys new cars every two to three years. Such cars as BMW, Audis, Acuras and Infinitis. He told me that he finds Benzes and Lexuses not sporty enough.

    You would honestly think a fellow like that would be sympathetic to the need for having sticks in performance cars? Nope not at all. This is what he asked me one day:

    "You know I dont understand you? Why are you willing to spend money on BMWs and not even spend money on such a low priced option as a automatic transmission?
    The last time I bought a manual was in the 70s and that was because I could not afford automatic"


    Apparently the atitude above is prevalent among all car buyers including luxury performance sedan buyers.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    When BMW & Nissan stop selling manuals, I guess I'll go back to Miatas, or something else -- I'll give up the luxury long before I'll give up the sport.

    I read somewhere that Nissan intends to eliminate the manual option soon on its Versa . They want to spread CVT throughout their product-lines.

    In other words the stick battle is a two front battle. Luxury cars from the top end and economy cars from the bottom end will gradually become more stick-less as the years go by. :(
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    The first stick-shift car I drove at a racetrack was a 1967 Pontiac GTO. These were quarter-mile drag races.

    I had a 1984 Jeep CJ-7 with a stick. I was living in a Rocky Mtn state. We often drove through areas where someone gets out and walks in front of the vehicle as you drive over uneven terrain and rocks large enough to take the bottom off, and you don’t want to stall out. On a couple of occasions, this took us to an open area at the foot of a steep (maybe 35 to 40 degree slope). Driving through the gears up and back down such slopes vindicated my father for any of his annoying comments when he was teaching me to drive the ‘57 column shift chevy he was passing along to me in 1966.

    I also had a chance, just one afternoon in the late 1980s, to drive a one quarter-hour leg of a charity “rally” (softest imaginable meaning of that word) event in an Audi Quattro Sport -- time in which a wealthy collector had put up as an auction item. That was something.

    On a less dramatic note, I drove a five speed Honda Accord around the hills and crowded highways of Seattle and San Francisco is the early 1990s. Then I retired from stick shifts and was delighted when, in the later 1990s, I discovered manufacturers equipping cars with tip-tronics which I like enough in that they stave off the feeling that cars are just basic transportation. I even find that, as auto engineers compete to develop their half-stick manu-matics, it’s enjoyable to compare one to another, the way we used to compare the sticks in GTOs and Dodge Hemis and Chevy Super Sports.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Apparently the atitude above is prevalent among all car buyers including luxury performance sedan buyers.

    Pardon my very bad Anglish. But all is a bit too inclusive ,although it does feel that way.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,206
    Well, my next car, with its manual transmission, RWD & some lux features (BMW 3 or G3X or ??) may be (as was said years ago where I grew up) my "last look at granny."

    As I mentioned earlier, when the lux cars drop the manual, I'll drop lux cars. I can finally afford nice cars, but if they don't have a manual. . .

    I'm pushing 60, and BMW, Merc, Infiniti & Cadillac are still offering manuals. With luck, I'll die before the manual does. Said more positively, the manual will live much longer than I do.

    Or not.
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