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The Future Of The Manual Transmission

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    taken an extended look for a few different models that supposedly have a manual "standard", I am definitely a little disheartened. Accord EX and Camry SE, dealers just laughed and basically said there was no way they could get one. Mazda 6, virtually none were in stock in a 50-mile radius, and the three I could find in such a large area were all strippers. Ditto the Altima, although I was pleasantly surprised to find that my nearest Nissan dealer had a couple of stick shift Maximas in stock.

    There is a very common theme: the automakers seem to assume that the only people who buy manuals can't afford a "real" car so they only build stripped cars with stick shifts.

    Now, one thing I thought was notable and was pleased to see was that if you move up a step, to sub-premium cars like the smallest Audis, the TSX, and other cars that are meant to be sporty, the dealers really do stock manuals in enough numbers to offer a variety of colors and option levels. The exceptions are Volvo, where the only stick shifts on my local dealer's lot were the 'R' cars, and Saab.

    Funny: my local Audi dealer, which also sells VW, does a pretty good job of stocking manual-equipped Audis, yet NEVER orders manual shift VWs. However, VW has apparently just launched a lease promotion on the new Jetta VE, manual shift only, and as a result they just ordered a short stack of them. You could see the looks of displeasure on the salespeoples' faces as the truck was pulling in, which I was coincidentally there to see.

    I mentioned it somewhere else here, but it bears repeating: calling the manual "standard" on these models is just insulting our intelligence - it is purely a ploy to advertise a starting price that is some $800-1000 lower than what the automatic that they actually make available will sell for. At the level it has reached, it would show more integrity to begin making the manual shift a no-cost option, and calling the automatic standard in these cars.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    Just did a bit of research:

    -> found 4 Accord EX manual transmissions (2 black, 1 green, 1 silver); 2 others (1 black, 1 grey) at a different Honda dealer

    -> 1 Camry with a stick

    -> 4 Altimas (3 SE, 1 S) with sticks

    Not encouraging, I agree
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    What you describe does make sense to me - generally, a person looking at an Accord or Camry is going to want an auto, or if they want a stick it's because they want to save some money, not necessarily for any "fun to drive" reason....

    Whereas, the person who wants an Acura TSX is more likely to want the stick.... same with Audi versus VW... They're willing to pay more for a "premium" car.

    Like it or not, I think the manufacturers do a pretty good job of matching supply with demand when it comes to stick shifts..It's obviously in their best interests to do so, and I'm sure they put some thought/research into it..... If they built a bunch of Accord EXs or Camry SEs with sticks, they'd probably have a bunch of unsold ones on the lots at the end of the year...
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    that model has been going that way for a long time. What I don't understand is the Accord - that has been a model with a lot of stick shifts in the mix for a long time. What happened? They changed that for this generation?

    michaell: I am jealous! If I had come across a stick shift EX cloth in green last weekend, I might have pulled the trigger right on the spot. As for the Camry, your post has my eyes popping out of my head.

    I actually think the automatic in the Accord is pretty responsive, but I know that if I had one it would begin to irritate me in short order. And you can feel the torque converter sucking the power away from the wheels.

    I say if the mix of a model drops below 10% equipped with a manual shift, it is deceptive advertising to call it "standard".

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    The Camry had an MSRP of something like $18K, so I can't imagine that it has a lot of other equipment on it.

    The Accords had sticker prices of $22,700, which, accoriding to the Honda website, is standard.

    Question: do you think you could get one of those EX's for $20K?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    I am quite sure you could yes, especially since the '06 will be at dealers in a month's time, and will have exchanged the much-hated taillights for something new and fresh! :-P

    Honda has behind-the-scenes cash to dealers on the Accord, and invoice is at least 10% below sticker.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • timothyawtimothyaw Posts: 148
    to manufactures only putting manuals on low end cars is the last generation Prelude Type SH! I have an 01. With the SH model it has a few features that the base Prelude doesn't have. First the SH is available in 5-speed ONLY. It has the spoiler, leather shifter extra interior lights, ATTS(advanced handling). So there are a few cases where the manual is the top of the line model :)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    with a few models truly dedicated to sport, they will often make a manual the ONLY option, which of course immediately kills sales! :P

    S2000, Civic SI, Corolla/Matrix XRS, RSX-S. STi and Evo. Sentra Spec V? SRT-4 and Cobalt SS S/C? Should be the same for GTO/Corvette and 350Z, but GM and Nissan wanted those automatic buyers! ;-)

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    Don't forget, the 1st generation Taurus SHO only came with a stick, and it bombed in the market! 2nd gen SHO (with the V8) only offered the slushbox.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,688
    Don't forget, the 1st generation Taurus SHO only came with a stick, and it bombed in the market! 2nd gen SHO (with the V8) only offered the slushbox.

    FWIW the slushbox only version of the SHO bombed worse than the stick only version.

    I had a stick shift '91 SHO and found it to be a great engine in search of a good car. :P

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • shiphroshiphro Posts: 62
    Limited edition (5000) with AWD and a 3.2L engine (also used in Audis and Porsche Cayennes

    came w/ a stick only.

    Only options were exterior color (blue, red, silver, black) and leather vs cloth.
  • ratbertratbert Posts: 22
    "Like it or not, I think the manufacturers do a pretty good job of matching supply with demand"

    I disagree. They do a good job of forcing a decision out of people. I know way too many people who bought auto but WANTED stick - only problem was that it wasn't offered or available. I know 2 more people who are shopping for cars now. They both want stick but will probably end up with auto. Example: Saturn VUE. You can't get AWD with stick. Heck, in '06 you won't even be able get AWD with 4-cyl. More product forcing. We want a VUE with 4-cyl and stick. We may have to pay for the BMW X3. sweet 6-spd manual, but $30k.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,962
    Or.. get a CR-V.. stick, 4-cyl., AWD... EX model.. Only $23K..

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    I saw 2 EX 4WD stick-shift CRVs on my dealer's lot just the other day, so unlike some other manufacturers whose talk of a "standard" stick is just that, talk, Honda actually seems to build them and put them out there. Now if only they would do the same with Accord EXs.

    Stick shift 2WD and 4WD Element EX's are pretty common too.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You can find a Subaru Forester XT with a stick pretty easily. 230hp plus a manual = 60mph in under 6 seconds.

    There are some companies still makin' 'em.

    -juice
  • Having moved from the UK to Vancouver just over a year ago, I can say that the car markets between Europe and North America are completely different. Europe is more small car oriented, choosing the "hot-hatch" cars such as the VW Golf, Honda Civic and Vauxhall (GM) Astra. A Honda Civic Saloon (Sedan) is considered a medium size car, and the Ford Mondeo (Taurus) is a large family car. Anything with BMW or Mercedes badges is a luxury and Audi A3 and A4s (and VW variants) are considered an executive car. SUVs are a very small minority. Average engine size is around the 1.5 litre mark. In North America, cars are less than half the price but are larger, e.g. a Ford Taurus is Mid-size, and the sedan Civic is more popular than hatchback but classed as a small car. Large "Family" cars equivalent to the Impala, Chrysler 300, Ford 500 just don't exist in Europe except for the affluent. Average engine size is around the 2.7 litre mark.

    Why is this relevant? First, In Europe, fuel is a higher price and automatics just guzzle fuel as they are not efficient in smaller engined cars (these are facts as stated from car manufacturers). The cars are used in both town and motorway/highway settings where you could be going 70+ mph on the Motorway and 30 in town quite often. Due to car pricing, people want cars to last. Auto transmissions generally can't cope and last a maximum of 120,000 miles and cost a fortune to repair (usually resulting in the car being scraped rather than buy a new transmission). Manuals when looked after can exceed 250,000 miles, as was the case of my Dad's Toyota Camry (the gearbox was fine but the clutch started slipping at around the 325,000 mark). No one I know in the UK would touch an automatic gearbox with a 12 foot barge pole, let alone buy one in a car, so generally the option to purchase an automatic is usually non-existant except on prestige models.
    In North America, the fuel is cheap (over half the cost of UK or Mainland Europe). Car sizes are larger, engine sizes are larger (to pull the extra weight i guess) and speeds are lower. Average travel distances are larger due to the size of cities. Automatics are better in this regime of cruising and less start/stop traffic. The option to purchase a Manual transmission is rare to non-existant and reduces the options available (e.g. Air-Con). It's also cheaper to buy a new car if the cost of repair if too high.

    Conclusion: Manual transmission may well increase in popularity in North America when smaller, more fuel efficient cars are required as fuel prices increase. You won't see Manual transmissions disappearing in the UK and Europe, not with the high purchase costs of new cars and fuel prices.
    IMHO: Manuals are more fun, and allow for a better feel for the car. Auto's are boring and gear changes difficult to predict. Also manuals are safer for using the clutch as a brake in addition to the brakes on emergency stops, and safer in snow/ice conditions where clutch (and a competent person) can be used to control/limit the power better than any electronic device. Also, try pulling away up a steep hill (forward or back, dry road conditions) in an automatic without the car rolling downhill at least 3 inches and giving a minor whiplash injury.
  • agreed.. I'm from germany and move to the US...
    hatchbacks and wagons are cars all poeple nd young people buy. preferrably with manual tranny (no dealer will have an automatic available anyway).
    Sedans are for old people (at least with models that offer hatch and sedan).
    automatic trannies are for disabled people, or old people. for no one else.
    In fact, in Germany you can have an autoatic license. when you make an automatic license (with the required driving school and road test in an automatic car) you are NOT allowed to drive manual tranny cars! (with a normal license made in a "normal" car you can drive either type of car).
    automatic is for people that can't drive... maybe they shouldn't have a license at all.... :-)
    Well, since the camry only was available with auto...we got a Mazda 3. And there is no autoamtic before i retire and can't really drive anymore (maybe then I shouldn'T drive anyway)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    we can count on good ol' Europe to ensure that manuals never disappear from the automotive landscape. The only problem is that even European carmakers tend to NOT offer the manuals (and the diesels) in the United States that they offer in Europe. Pretty soon we are going to have to pay to import a European-spec car just to get a manual shift!

    But now I think that day will not come as soon as I was pessimistically thinking as recently as last year. I think sport models and economy cars will still have manuals for a good decade yet, in fairly plentiful supply, concentrated among certain manufacturers (mostly Japanese excepting Toyota, possibly also Ford). The new Fusion AND Milan both offer a "standard" manual shift, and they are brand new in MY '06. I think that is a good sign, even if the "standard" standard proves to be hard to find on dealer lots.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • waiwai Posts: 327
    In Hong Kong where I came from 4 years ago, when a person get a driver license, he is ashamed to be known that his license is restricted to automatic because his friends will ask him if this is a standard license or not. People will assume that your driving skill is not so good if you get a automatic license. 90 percent of the drivers learn to drive standard even though they will buy an automatic car later.
    Because traffic is kind of jam in a crowed city, people will prefer to drive an automatic because its no fun to hang to the clutch while stuck in the traffic. Most cars are come in automatic except economy car or sports car same as in USA.
    But sticker price will treat auto as an option for $500 more. High fuel price U$6.50/Gal or repair cost of an automatic is not an issue here as cars are luxury goods any way. People just want to enjoy to drive in a comfortable vehicle.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think the 6 cylinder will not come with a manual, even though the Mazda6 they are based on does offer one. :(

    -juice
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Disagree. Not on trends between Europe and US of course. Being a smaller car fan, I'd like some Euro-sense to rub off here so that more of what I want will be made available to me. It's all about me, after all. But I think your decade prediction, Nippon, is a very safe one. It will be a while before the third pedal goes away.

    Disagree on perpetuation of the manual based on fuel economy, as well as performance. Two observations lead me to my state of semi-contrarianism, and both are from Audi: DSG on smaller displacements, and Stepronic on larger.

    The A3 equipped with DSG is (according to the paperwork) as efficient as its manual counterpart, but also quicker, and with no loss of critical driver input. I've said it before, I believe this is the next step in transmissions, now that they've figure out how to bring it to mass market. Refinements, I'm sure, are under way to further enhance its capabilities, reduce its costs and lighten its gravity load (its only apparent disadvantage thus far). The Steptronic argument is admittedly weaker, but given that the S4 Avant with its 4.2 is on my upcoming shopping list, I observe that its fuel economy is acutally better with the six-speed Step than it is with the 6M. The performance of the manual though is better. Weaker argument of course, but not all automatics are horrid pigs depending on application.

    I'm not dedicated to the third pedal, obviously. I haved enjoyed it in my lifetime, but have encountered far more situations in recent years in which it was tedious, and far fewer in which I could experience any true driving joy.

    As far as fuel prices equalizing with Europe, I don't see this country ever getting there. So much of the Euro market's behavior with regard to fuel is artificially influenced by taxation. Whether right or wrong, there's no way this country will stand for that. The attitude here is that it's one of Jefferson's unalienable rights to have readily available (comparatively) inexpensive fuel. Political careers die on rising fuel prices, and armed conflict to sustain and promote consistent flow?

    Also, just traveling for business here in CA, I can cover more miles in a single trip than many European households do in a decade of vacations. We're a big damn country with a whole lot of territory to cover!

    While there is some renewed interest in fuel economy right now, it's nowhere near widespread. There may be those eschewing the Extradition or Pukon for a Prius, but they are few still and far between. I admit that the rise has not changed my habits nor my budgeting needs in the least thus far...
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,094
    remember, the DSG is a true manual tranny (aka a stick). It just has an electronic clutch. Heck, Porsche and VW offered these back in the '70's (60's?), along with Renault I believe. They just work better now.

    So, is the debate over manually tranny of the third pedal? Even if the manual is dumbed down to act like an AT.

    What we really need is a switch for the clutch. That is, you can choose to use it normally, or if you get caught in traffic, put it on autopilot mode. Now that is the best of both worlds.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (mine)

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,962
    You'll have to excuse wale.. He drives a wagon with a slushbox..

    I hold him personally responsible for the downfall of the manual transmission.. ;)

    Word on the street: He just got his AARP card...

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  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,094
    it's a Hatchback with a fogie tranny. Not big enough to be a wagon.

    My mother is 73, and she still drives a stick. That should make him feel better.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (mine)

  • In the UK there are automatic and manual driving licenses. It is illegal to drive a manual if you hold only an automatic license. As far as I know (this was from my UK driving instructor), all vehicles without a manual clutch (i.e. full autos or auto-clutch-and-stick) are considered automatic, so learning to drive in one will only allow you to have an automatic drivers license. The manual driving test is all about clutch control, especially hill starts. It's an instant fail if you roll back even a fraction of an inch!

    So why do I prefer a manual over autos? Safety. I learnt to drive during the cold half of the year (i.e. Sept thru March) and my first experience of driving on ice and snow was during this time. Good time to learn is in the someone else's (driving school's) car. I learnt a lot about clutch control and braking on dark icy/snowy roads (most of my lessons were in the late evenings too). My instructor told me that it would have been too dangerous to have a lesson in an auto in those conditions!
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    be nice to Wale. His car is the coolest, even if dumb ol' Lexus chose not to make a manual version available. :-)

    The thing I want to know about DSGs, which no-one really seems to know, is what you have to do when the clutches inside fail. I mean, they are regular clutches, electronically operated, right? Which means that just like any clutch, they will need replacement. Now is this the $800-1000 job that replacing a regular clutch would be? Or is this a complete tear-down with a cost on the order of a typical auto tranny rebuild/replacement, like $2000+? If the latter, I want none of it.

    And besides, I prefer to be able to modulate the clutch myself, so I still prefer the third pedal. I do agree that the DSG is a big step forward for automatics.

    Wale and I agree on one thing for sure: manuals will not be perpetuated because of the fuel economy advantage. That is so close to going away entirely, it should do so within a few years on most models. I believe that the manual will last beyond that day for reasons of cost in economy cars, and for reasons of owner preference in sport models. I mean, they said stuff like BMW's SMG would make manuals obsolete, but word is that SMG-equipped cars are TERRIBLE to drive at normal speeds/running errands and whatnot. Jerky, jarring, whatever in full-auto mode.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Would that we had those kinds of licensing requirements here. Be a safer place for all of us. I'm thinking.

    Pay no attention to that man from Kentucky, BTW. He's just jealous of my Toyota...
    }-]
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,962
    I don't think the clutches in a DSG will be considered a "wear" or maintenance item... I think the DSG will be treated as an automatic transmission, and those are internal mechanical parts.. I wish someone would call Audi and find out.. ;)

    Plus being electronically actuated, they won't endure 10% of the wear that a normal clutch receives... perfectly matched revs on every upshift and downshift, etc..

    SMGs are terrible, I agree... but, you don't have to pay for clutch jobs on them, either...

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    I see. So the general consensus is that the clutches in a DSG should last the life of the car, no sweat? In that case, DSGs should easily outlast regular auto transmissions, which never seem to be able to get much beyond the 150K point, if even anywhere near that.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,962
    Well.. if it were a Honda..... then the clutch would last over 100K, anyway...

    Being an Audi, I see no problem with the clutch lasting the life of the transmission... which should be about 10 miles after the warranty runs out.. :surprise:

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