First, let’s get this out of the way. I’m not the first to ever do a write up on this topic. That’s pretty clear. Secondly, I’m (for all intents and purposes) your run-of-the-mill enthusiast. I enjoy most cars (few exceptions would be anything Daewoo and the dreaded Pontiac Aztek). The biggest issue I find is that car makers today don’t understand my type of guy. What guy might that be? The purist.
There’s this whole argument that these new DSG transmissions are faster and inherently more efficient at getting the power down with less downtime between shifts. Fine, I won’t argue that point as it’s true. However, when you really start to break it down, it really treads a fine line between “is it really just an automatic?” The biggest problem here is cars have had these “auto-stick” features for years now (my wife’s Dodge Grand Caravan R/T even has one) and no one really cared. It did, however, give people a false sense of reality in leading them to believe they had a “stick shift. sort of.”
What am I on about? Simply put… I love manual transmissions and I’m sad that they are going away at an alarming rate. The purist in me loves thrashing about and tossing the stick through the gears (especially gated ones… the love of that is immeasurable). This is partly why I love two brands in particular: Mazda and MINI. MINI basically offers a stick in every model, granted they’re all just variants of the Cooper (bigger, 4 doors, higher off the ground, longer, etc.). They all use the same engine and thus it’s easy to just slap a manual on. Mazda employs a similar technique but what I love there is that they offer manuals in upper trims and in cars you wouldn’t normally require or want a manual in (Mazda5 sport which I owned and the CX-5).
I’ll end with this, I understand motorsports use these flappy paddle gearboxes and it works for these cars as it’s much faster and much safer as you don’t have to really move much to shift. I do wish there were more true manual shift only racing series and more brands offering these options in the range of vehicles. Save for the performance variants, you’d be hard pressed to find many Mercedes (if any now) that offer a manual anymore and that’s depressing.
Do you agree with my desire for more manuals or are you ok with the new age of transmissions flooding the market? Am I just old and senile or do the younger generations crave that same thrill?