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The Future Of The Manual Transmission



  • "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."

    I agree with that, especially for an occasional track driver. When I was driving the road course at California Speedway in the IS, I was so busy trying to keep the car on the black stuff, the last thing I needed was to be worrying about shifting and heel and toeing. I didn't even use the shift buttons on the steering wheel. The old slush box seemed to be in the exact right gear at all times with no input from me.
    So, I guess my opinion is the exact opposite of the race car driver that Shifty usually quotes who said that there was no reason for anything other than an automatic on the street (don't remember which one it was). On a track, it's all I can do to manage the steering, brakes and gas pedal but on the street where I'm not pushing any limits, I'd rather shift myself.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    I use them little buttons in my IS all the time on back roads, Fred. They work pretty good. Wish there was a whole lot more backroads out there.

    Ain't never been on no track with 'em though.

    All y'all can push pedals with your left all you want. I'll see you later at the BBQ...
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    true sports enthusiasts want the newest fastest thing out there. Look what happens when the paddle shifter on a F-1 or WRC car fails and they have to be shifted manually? It is like they tossed out an anchor on the manual third pedal, and they still have the sequencial shift. So the Uber enthusiast is pulling for the paddle and the uber commuter is pulling for automatics so it is a smaller and smaller market demanding a third pedal. Any of us that spent a lot of time on a motorcycle can assure you that you can't shift a dog leg half as fast as we can a straight shifter.

    The argument that they are more sporty than a automatic only holds true until someone says they don't care if a sequencial is quicker they aren't in it for maximum sport.

    I wonder what answer you would get from any driver in F-1 or ALMS or WRC if they wanted to give up their paddle for a third pedal?

    As far as trends go? Isn't ABS, Skid control, cornering control and traction control becoming more common? I don't believe my Healey had any of those and I loved that little car. I couldn't get anything like it today no matter how much fun it was to drive. Times change and driver seem to be changing with them.
  • jimvetajimveta Posts: 96
    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.

    Well, while such fine grained abosolute control is not readily available from manufacturers currently, it's not only possible, it's already there in the aftermarket for automatics. Gear selection can be fully manual, doing away with all electronic controls for example, and gear engagement (valve body pressure) can be simply modulated with throttle position or be fully programmable with selectable settings--not quite as dynamic as with a clutch I agree, but still configurable nonetheless.
  • jimvetajimveta Posts: 96
    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.

    If it's locked, there really shouldn't be that much loss. The only extra loss I'd think would come from the friction and inertia (though not really a loss if you measure hp statically) of gears against each other. So perhaps with a large number of gears, the auto can be significantly more lossy. But I've been told by a tuner who has done this himself for example, a built Ford AOD is within a couple percent of a manual in a mustang.

    HOWEVER, by seat of the pants experience I assume you mean while accelerating right? If so, then most likely that would be while the converter is unlocked. You can change that yourself though. I wonder why most companies don't lock it up after reaching stall speed--I guess it's for durabilty. Secondly, you also have to keep in mind the difference in gear ratios when you're doing a seat of the pants comparison.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,880
    HOWEVER, by seat of the pants experience I assume you mean while accelerating right? If so, then most likely that would be while the converter is unlocked. You can change that yourself though.


    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hey Gang, I just found this discussion. I like it. ;-)

    My goal is not to be the last stick shift driver on earth, it is however to insure that my kids (and maybe even their kids) have the opportunity to stir their own. ;-)

    Having just made that statement, my eight year old daughter had a stroke when she was born that left her "Hemiplegic" (partially paralyzed on her left side). Through lots of therapy she has managed so far to grow up fairly normal and unless you know what to look for, most folks don't even know that she has a problem. Regarding her driving a stick, my guess is that she has about 50-50 odds of being able to do it, assuming that she keeps progressing as she has been. If I do manage to teach her how to drive a manual, and if she decides to stay with it, the amount of therapy for her entire left side that just driving would provide for her will be completely invaluable. Needless to say, I'm obviously preparing myself for a long (and hopefully not too painful) teaching process, which I will probably start in an empty parking lot when she is about 14.

    Then again, there is my eleven year old son, who has the attitude of, "You sit me in the left seat, and I'll learn the damn thing in an hour." -Tear!- ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • jimvetajimveta Posts: 96
    Sorry, I should be more clear as I meant through aftermarket solutions. For example, (also ) offers complete tunability, including TC lockup, of popular Ford automatics.

    Also, you can "add" TC lockup to trannies that normally didn't have them like GM's 3-speeds, that you can manually engage, again just like you can manually shift gears, or have some electronic unit to control it; see ("add" is somewhat of a misnomer.. more like "redesigned in").
  • badtoybadtoy Posts: 368
    are most needed on small displacement, low torque engines -- especially off the line. Witrh a manual, you can rev the engine into its power range; with an suto, you just have to putt away until the engine builds some revs. A 6spd on a Corvette really does seem like overkill to me (on the TT Supra, it was handy for keeping the turbos spooled up).
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    What a pleasure it was to read last month's R&T comparo to determine the best all-around sports car. All nine cars in the comparo had stick which was part of the criteria for DEFINING the sports car.

    I remain optimistic about the future of the manual transmission. When boats became powered by engines, this wasn't the demise of the sail. No one needs to be told about the sporting aspect of sailboats and a sailor's connection to the elements. I believe the stick will endure for the same reason.

    That said, I admit being concerned about Porsche introducing a sequential gearbox option soon and I can't wait to see how it is received. Something like 8 or 9 out of 10 Porsches sold today are with stick where it is the opposite with Ferrari. Says here that the stick will hold its own among Porsche enthusiasts.

    It's early in the sequential gearbox game and it appears many buyers don't like being jerked to death with violent shifts, not being able to modulate power transmission as with clutch.

    Kudos to likes of AM and GM. The very popular Vette in Z06 format will be introed in showrooms this fall with one transmission—the stickarooni. Thumbs down on BMW for foisting SMG with their M cars. At least they carry the torch with their other sedans.

    Cheers to callmedrfill, stickguy, shipo and all of the other protagonists and manufacturers who recognize the sporting aspect of three pedals and how it makes the driver an actual part of the drive train. Like the sail, manual transmissions cannot be replaced—F1, Cigarettes, and pure speed be damned!
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    "I remain optimistic about the future of the manual transmission. When boats became powered by engines, this wasn't the demise of the sail. No one needs to be told about the sporting aspect of sailboats and a sailor's connection to the elements. I believe the stick will endure for the same reason..."

    As a sailor, I'd agree with the sentiment. I hate motors at sea. The sooner they're off and the longer they're silent, the happier I am.

    I also note, however, that virtually all sailboats now come with motors, and for reasons that seem to (partially) parallel the auto industry. Leads me to believe that a compromise like DSG that still allows for direct connectivity and control is where we'll all go eventually.

    I think the shifting part will remain in perpetuity; the advent and persistence of "manumatics" seems evidence that most of us would like the option of that control (even some who have no clue as to how and why). I think the third pedal, though, will slowly retreat into the shadows of time. My, that sounds deep, doesn't it?
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    good analogy - everyone knows that a powerboat is faster, etc.. but some people still prefer a sail boat...

    I think you will always be able to get a manual, but it will become more and more of a niche...more and more cars will only be available with an auto or a "manumatic" type setup...the pure stick will probably eventually be basically a niche like a convertible.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    So long as there are niche products that fullfill my needs at a price that I'm willing to pay.

    I've never driven a "slap-shift" (automated manual) BMW, Ferrari or other high-end example of the genre so I can't say how they compare to a manual. Nor does it matter, since I wouldn't pay that price for a car in any case. But cost aside, why would I WANT the added complexity? A manual works very well for me, thank you very much, and the "shiftable" automatics do not. I have an example of the latter in an Acura TL that my Wife drives. I had hoped that it would make the automatic tolerable but I find that I seldom use the feature due to its limited benefit and response delay. Come to think of it, I seldom choose to drive the car. Perhaps the automatic transmission is the reason.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    The TL's is one of the worst, IMO. Soft as butter. Not a good thing. Like the Lexus.

    Strangely enough, one of the best I've driven is Mitsubishi's. I had it on a Chrysler, and by comparison to Acura's or Lexus's, it was aces. Nowhere near as soft, and much quicker per input.

    Still not there, though. I don't mind. I'm not 3-pedaling again unless I have to, and I love to drive.

    I await my first session with DSG. From all I hear and read, that will be the bees knees...
  • tpat3tpat3 Posts: 119
    I fail to see the point of these faux manuals, except as an expensive option for folks who will barely use it. I've only driven the TL with one of them, used it for a few miles and switched to full auto. Like kissing your sister, in my opinion.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    I have the Toyota one in my IS300. It's not one of the better ones, as I said before, but it's useful enough, and gets used daily, albeit briefly.

    My commute to work is a canyon road with some enticing curves. Every now and then on the way out, the road is clear and there are a couple of places where I select and hold a lower gear. On the way back in the afternoon, I take a cut-off where gear selection helps. It does work, once you get used to the limitations. It's not as crisp as any manual, but it is a benefit.

    All in all, though, I'd say actual shifting for performance takes place maybe 7% of the time. Maybe. The other 93%? I don't need to row. I get no benefit, and very little satisfaction running the H around town and see no reason for it on the freeway. If my "shift for performance" percentage approached 30%, I'd be back in a manual perhaps.

    DSG, as I understand it, is not only quicker shifting than a manual, it also has no torque converter, and boasts better acceleration times than a manual in conjunction with equal fuel economy.
  • badtoybadtoy Posts: 368
    for really tight canyon roads -- it allows you to keep the car balanced and neutral, and also allows you to concentrate on steering and braking. With me, a shifter is more of an emotional thing than a practical one (except for small-displacement engines).
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    in these manumatics, if you switch it to manual mode, does the torque converter lock immediately every time you order a gear change? The slippage of an automatic is one of its most annoying aspects to me, not just that it always seems to be in the wrong gear at the wrong time.

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

  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    Before you actually buy a DSG car, read this -

    They gave it a really bad review in their 40,000 mile test of a Z4
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    That's an SMG, Dave. DSG is a different animal completely.

    I read that review a couple weeks back. Kinda scary, ain't it? :-o

    Nippon: the answer is no. Any pressure change and the TC is floating. In proximity and under pressure, but floating nonetheless. Any experienced fanny can feel it, however in a car like mine with what I'd call ample torque, it doesn't hamper your enjoyment in the least once you get used to the feel. Where I feel the TC the most is in flat-out straightline acceleration. Since I'm not really given to stoplight skirmishes anyway, and can merge any ramp with firm authority, I don't care at all.

    I don't really know how to quantify the difference for you, but we're talking shades of gray for recreational driving, not black and white.

    I don't think I'd recommend it for SCCA action, although I know of at least one SportCross driver who does quite well auto-crossing...

    Note: The TL's manumode seems like an after thought. I'd not be surprised to find that no TL pilots actually use it.

    Again, the best one I've tried so far is Mitsu's Sportronic.
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    So, what's the difference between DSG and SMG? I thought they were the same thing?

    p.s. Yeah, I'm a TL driver, and I'll admit, after the first month or so, the novelty factor of the manual mode pretty much wears off and you end up just leaving it in D and driving it like a "normal" auto.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    is totally unique - a double clutching transmission system where two gears are engaged at all times, the one that is actually powering the vehicle, and the next one up or down depending on the last shift, so that it is ready to go "instantly" when the gear change order comes.

    Some would say this is a perfectly suitable replacement for the traditional manual, because it has no TC losses and no hesitation - in fact in most cases it can change gears faster than a human being. One thing that is ignored, of course, is that you can't change down two gears at once, you have to cycle through the intervening gears even if you don't want to engage them. And of course, if you "surprise" the system by reversing the shift order (your last shift was up to, say, third but now you want to shift back down to second) there is a hesitation while it reverses course. At least that is my understanding from the tech stuff I have read on it.

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

  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Yeah, what he said.

    Exceptions to Nippon's excellent report that I've read or heard about: gear preselection is controlled electronically and is sequential, but input from a number of sources is processed. So, acceleration and braking input also affects preselection, to anticipate need for one-up or one-down in spirited driving situations.

    True, skip-shifting per se can't happen, but the reaction time for a double-tap is supposedly every bit as fast as a well-executed, rev-matched skip. Or so I've heard. Besides, double-tapping doesn't seem to slow any F1 pilots! ]-}

    It's not stick and clutch, but it's closer than any other mainstream system has come yet, according to the reports. But of course until I start the test-drive process next year, I won't know for sure!
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    It's coming back to me now! I remember reading a comparison test in Road and Track between a BMW with SMG and an Audi TT with DSG...from what I remember, they weren't super impressed with either one... I'll have to go back to my archives and read it again tonight.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986

    This is the one that started me looking that way - after andys120 raved about his TT test drive, I believe.

    I think this may just be the missing link. The first big step to the future of modern trannies.
    I think.
  • badtoybadtoy Posts: 368
    with both the 6spd and manumatic when it was first introduced, and in that particular car, the manumatic was much better, owing largely the to the huge flat spot between first and second gear in the 6spd. The buttons on the steering wheel worked perfectly, and I negotiated the cones on a gymknana course faster than anything I'd driven since my Lotus. When you want to relax (like in LA commuter traffic), you could just put it in drive and cruise.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    In practical terms, SMGs upshift like you did when you were first learning how to row your own gears. DSG upshifts perfectly because its second clutch was already at the right speed.
    To be smooth, the engine's revs have to fall during an upshift, but SMGs shift so quickly that they can't. Hence the jerk.

    Both downshift perfectly well, because rev-matching (in the up-revs direction) is easy.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 26,313
    really don't want to think about how much it will cost to get a clutch job done on an Audi DSG once it's out of warranty.

    Maybe not an issue now, but someday these newfangled cars will need work.

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

  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    The beauty of that is that the driver doesn't operate the clutch! ;-) Probably end up lasting longer than a typical manual clutch...
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    Good point - the computer that runs it isn't going to allow you to dump the clutch at 6000rpm or ride the clutch in traffic or grind gears, etc... it probably will end up lasting much longer than a "regular" clutch
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