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The Future Of The Manual Transmission



  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    exactly - I think the clutch pedal will eventually disappear... "sports" cars will have paddle shifers..."normal" cars will have autos (or maybe CVTs)

    You have to realize, the opinions of people in this type of forum are a tiny minority out in the real world.. I'd bet 8 or 9 out of 10 people prefer an automatic and can't even drive a stick.
  • Manuals will be around for as long as I will (at least another 30 years), if not in new cars, used.

    I will ALWAYS have a handshaker. ALWAYS! I will find the last one on Earth, and guard it with my life.

    Because the people are weak, and easily led, changes nothing. My die has been caste.

    Maybe I should start a driving school? I will carry the flag for purist everywhere, and protect the Holy Grail.

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    "I'd bet 8 or 9 out of 10 people prefer an automatic and can't even drive a stick."

    I bet you're right. I am in an office of around 100 people. I did a parking lot survey, and couldn't find any stick shifts except my car and one other truck guy like me who also has a stick shift 4Runner. But his other "car" is a motorcycle, so I am not that surprised.

    And this included a couple of sporty cars, including an RSX and a Mustang, both automatic, and a couple of BMW 3-series. Certainly 90% of the cars in our parking lot are offered as a manual, but nary a one of the ones in our lot is so equipped.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    It might take another 20,30 years but I would bet that eventually a car with a clutch will be an anachronism like a roadster with side curtains. It's becoming more and more of a "niche" offering.
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    well I just bought a manual because I missed it so much.

    Really the manufacturers are part of the problem when the only stick equiped models will always be the most absolutely stripped model on the floor.

    If you do that with any option or choice, you're going to help kill it as well. Hell my previous car was an auto simply because I couldn't find a stick in the 5-door version at all and the few 3-doors I found where just stripped down completely. I thought I could live with the automatic......just couldn't do it. Finally traded it away.

    The point is they even got me into an automatic (if only for awhile) because of the really, REALLY crappy availability of sticks. I know all they care about is the bottom line, but it does stink.
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    It's sort of a chicken vs. the egg thing - does the lack of availability drive down demand, or does the lack of demand drive down availability?
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    well in my case, it definetly caused it. I can't imagine I'm the only one that said "Well there's no way I can get this car remotely the way I want with a I guess I'll get one of 30 they have the way I want with a slushbox".

    Now I'm certain that the majority of drivers do in fact want automatics, but a good chunk still would like to row their own a properly equipped car.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,234
    must not die!

    Driving an automatic now would be like being forced to listen to Frank Sinatra tunes over and over again, when I have so much classic rock at my easy disposal in cassette tape form. Really!

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • shiphroshiphro Posts: 62
    I'll have to take your word on the manual vs automatic problems associated with domestic car makers. The last time I seriously considered one of their products it was the Holden GTO which does come w/ a manual. (Although IIRC it didn't initially?)

    I'm proud to say that my car isn't available w/ an automatic in NA. Stick shift it or buy something else :)
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    Aha! I'm one that held out .. we searched 4 Ford dealers before we found a ZX5 that had the equipment we wanted and a stick shift .. after driving the automatic version, we just said "no way".

    Of course, now I have the unenviable task of teaching my daughter to drive it ... one school of thought says I just toss her the keys and tell her "go for it" -- albeit in our neighborhood only, so as to avoid the many hills in our town....
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    exactly what I was looking for. I settled for an automatic ZX5 as there was just not one to be found with a stick. I needed the car very soon so I could not just order one I wanted. I *thought* I would be able to suck it up, but as fun as it was in the twisties for being a useful daily driver, the lack of the stick did it in.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    What's funny is that now, 15 months later, we sorta kinda regret not going with the automatic. But, the daughter didn't have her license at the time, so her mother and I were (are) going to drive it.

    Now that she's got her license, I miss my Saturn (V6, leather, heated seats, sunroof, etc.) which she is driving. I'd love to trade back with her, but she's not ready to handle the stick shift.

    Of course, the daughter would love to see us trade in the Focus for a Mini Cooper (silver w/ black roof, CVT transmission).

    Not bloody likely!
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 26,289
    I keep trying to convince myself that the new ATs are good enough to make the switch, but always end up with another stick. I'm honestly not sure what would happen if I switched over to a daily driver with a good AT (like a BMW). I may get slovenly, or I may regret it to no end.

    One thing is, I would get an AT before an SMG type of tranny. I don't particulary trust them, and they seem to have some limitations in normal use. Plus, it wouldn't be the same, so I would likely leave it in auto mode anyway.

    maybe after 25 years, a clutch is so ingrained, its like putting on my glasses in the morning. I just do it without thinking about it.

    2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    I have some experience here: the Matrix I bought in '02 was automatic because it had just come out and there were never any manuals in stock anywhere, and I just had to have it.

    My first and last auto EVER, mark my words. The Matrix auto is actually pretty good for a non-tiptronic automatic. It downshifts quickly if you give it more gas, will hold gears all the way to redline if you floor it off the line, and even downshifts on steep downhill stretches to provide a little bit of engine braking.

    It was still so awful that after 18 months it had ruined the experience of the car for me, and I sold it at a loss. There were one or two other little things that bugged me about the car, but certainly not enough to sell it before five years - the automatic was the deciding factor. Ironically, it was a good thing that it was automatic at resale time, because it proved impossible to get a private buyer to pay more than the delaer would on trade, and the dealer said he would have offered at least $1000 less for a stick.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    SMGs don't seem to have mastered the art of upshifting smoothly yet. I haven't either, at least not consistently between first and second gear, but at least I have hope.

    A DSG should be perfect, and if I ever lose my left leg or the ability to move my right arm away from the steering wheel, I'll go for one of those. For now, I like the additional dimension of control that the clutch gives, and keeping all four appendages busy is fun.

    Actually I can see myself going for one if I ever have a long commute in traffic that I can't avoid. They never stall, right? Do they go between neutral and first automatically when you're driving at an almost-stop? Hm, I have to go read up on them.
  • Is it me, or is the Matrix's steering wheel a part of the guage cluster?

    I drove a Vibe GT (Matrix) when it first came out. 6-speed, of course. Had a grand ole time!

    Went to NY and drove the Matrix XRS. Same.

    Hate the red guages and driving position. Otherwise a great new 'Yota!

    Whenever someone asks me to drive an Auto, I hold up my hand like Fred Sanford ("I can't because of my Authoritise....")


  • Are manuals really going away? It seems to me that the trend is going the other way, especially in the near luxury sports sedan and coupe segment. Lexus got blasted for bringing out the IS without a manual but brought it in quickly. Infiniti offers it in the G35 and from what I understand there are waiting lists for MT cars. Acura has it in the TSX (not sure about the TL). Even Cadillac is offering manuals now.
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    well sort of (regarding the IS). The sportcross didn't get a stick. A deal breaker as I was ready at the time to spend a little more bread than I started out to, but no stick.

    I do like the (current) IS a lot as my friend has one, but Lexus doesn't quite know what to do with that car unfortunately. Sportcross with a stick would have been great.......especially compared to what a 3 series wagon would run you.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    Well, stick drivers still control some enthusiast markets like the sport compact one, which is a significant one. But we're losing the exotic sport car market, and in the US midsized sport luxury sedans are starting to not even allow the possibility of manual transmissions.

    But then there's Europe, where all but a few M-B buyers shift by themselves and like it that way. So anyone selling their stuff there has to at least design a manual transmission for their cars...

    I don't know what the situation is in Japan, but they're moving towards automatics too. Fortunately, Honda's still a lot better at manuals.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 26,289
    Japan might be a result of the traffic problems (small place, lots of cars). If all I ever did is drive in stop and go city or b-b highway, I would probably be shiftless tooo.

    The only AT I can even sorta stand are with bigger engines, maybe because they aren't so noticable. 4 cyls, especially higher strung ones, are horrible with AT.

    Worst part (after always being in the wrong gear)? The sound. They all sound funny accelerating in lower gears, and make an unnatural bang sound shifting up.

    Not that I'm shallow or anything...

    2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • My beef with Autos comes when you really hit the gas hard from a dead stop. The ones I have driven just don't seem to like it, and I don't either because they feel like they are struggling and thus maybe wearing out. You know the feeling, the engine is revving but the car is lagging. When driving a manual you can get the car moving quickly without making it seem like you are dogging the tranny. In fact, if you do it right the car seems to like that more than a slow, clutch-riding start.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    Anyone here ever drive a current generation Subaru Forester with that feature? It really makes starting off on hills a breeze—and is a great selling point for stick-shift newbies.

  • jimvetajimveta Posts: 96
    Ok, while I do agree that we always should have manuals as a choice, I'm probably the lone voice here at edmunds who will contend:

    - manual transmissions are weaker by design; planetary gears meshed together are always stronger

    - auto trannys with locking torque converters can be just as effecient as manuals

    - I don't understand the notion of equating gear control with manual transmissions; as folks have mentioned, you can have such control with automatics, albeit electronically for production cars or optionally, mechanically for aftermarket i.e. removing the "auto" out of automatic :)

    - torque converters offer torque multiplication up to stall speed; turbocharged cars can use higher stalling coverters to quickly load them and overcome lag--something that can't be done with a manual (outside of other very limited use devices like a two-step, or limited use methods like dumping the clutch at WOT)
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    I believe those to be valid points except with gear control/selection. With a manual tranny I can tell it exactly what gear I want, when I want it and how quick/fast I want it to engauge. Even with the latest "shiftable" automatics, you do not have that level of control on the fly.

    Most of the time I shifty fairly quick, but of course that is a little "rougher" for passenger comfort. When I have someone else in the car, I tend to shift slower and smoother. When I've got to scoot in a hurry, I slam through the gears. Some times you need a combination of those types on the fly.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986

    You may need to try DSG and then come back and edit that post! I can't claim firt-hand experience, but the scuttlebutt is "control", and "lightning fast".

    Unless you're skip-shifting (something a sequential can't do), nothing will shift faster, and there ain't no TC.

    Now daysailer, if he's still around, will rail against the TC as a concept, but I harbor no such ill-will. I readily concede that many in this world would not be driving at all but for this invention. That said, without a shift-kit, I find them all to be far too soft an interface. A lot of that is because of the press and their need to always trumpet the smoothest-shifting auto, I think. The problem, of course isn't when they're locked up at freeway speed, but rather in the slushy feeling getting there and back again. I agree, there's nothing like a clutch to erase the blur.

    I stopped wanting to exercize my left leg some years back in traffic, because I realized it was only giving me any measureable pleasurable results about 3% of the time I was in the car. Now that my commute is over hill and dale and curvy, I sometimes miss it, but frankly not that much. Even with their faults, manumatics have come quite a long way with regard to power band control in motion. For the (still) small fraction of drive time that a manual would be really useful and fun, I can live with the faults personally. Or maybe I'm getting soft...;-)

    I will probably go DSG next go round. That's the way it's looking today.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,877
    I have driven a DSG Audi TT 3.2 and I can attest that coupled with a good motor DSG's an absolute gas and will go up or down gears faster than you could possibly do it "manually".

    fr jimveta
    - auto trannys with locking torque converters can be just as efficient as manuals

    I s'pose that is theoretically possible but there's little evidence in the real world and the seat of my pants tells me there's some power being lost in the translation thru the TC.

    Word is the DSG is more efficient than either a manual or TC Auto. Porsche will be next to adopt this type of gearbox (built by Borg Warner), others will not be far behind.

    "Try it you'll like it."

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Well, of course, you're a major contributor to the scuttlebutt I offered!

    Sure sounds like the future of trannies to me.
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    but I can't vary the speed of engagement on the fly though (ie let out the clutch slower or faster). At least some of the DSG's can be set as far as how fast it engages, but you can't vary it on the fly like you can with a clutch pedal.

    That said, the DSG's do intrest me greatly and I'd much rather have one over a slushbox.
  • Personally, I don't care if DSG or SMG or whatever they come up with next is faster or more efficient or just cooler to tell your friends about. I enjoy driving a car with a stick and a clutch pedal. It's part of the fun of driving a sporty car. I don't care if it takes me 300 milliseconds longer to execute a downshift. I don't have a stopwatch running when I am in my car.
    I think the DSGs of the world are mostly marketing devices. I'd bet the vast majority of them will be used in full auto mode virtually all the time. The people who buy them really don't want to shift but like being able to tell their buddies that they got the DSG because it shifts faster than any human can work a an MT.
    Present company excepted, of course. ;)
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,877
    The people who buy them really don't want to shift but like being able to tell their buddies that they got the DSG because it shifts faster than any human can work a an MT.

    I don't doubt that but I'm pretty sure a DSG-type shift would be an advantage for the person active autocrossing or tracking his car.

    In the long run I'd rather have that than a TC-based autobox and the time will come soon when those will be the choices for new car buyers.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

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