Automakers: are you paying attention here?
Many are convinced the end of the manual transmission is near. With the sole exception of niche cars like the Mazda MX-5, they may be right. Obviously we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future with, but we do know automakers big and small must meet specific fuel emission requirements. Computer-controlled automatics and dual-clutch transmissions help make that possible better so than with manuals. But we still love to row our own gears. So we sat down and gathered a list of cars we love that don’t offer manuals but should.
Although offered in its Zonda predecessor, Pagani decided not to offer a manual transmission in its latest creations, the Huayra and Huayra BC. Instead of a six-speed manual there’s a seven-speed sequential gearbox with a single clutch; a dual-clutch was determined to be too heavy. Considering the Huayra is a twin-turbo V12-powered hypercar, it does return respectable fuel numbers thanks to that chosen gearbox and many lightweight components. But we just can’t get the thought of driving this thing while manually shifting out of our heads.
Nissan has been building its "four-door sports cars" since 1981, and until 2008, it was offered with a manual. What was the replacement gearbox? A CVT, which remains the only option. We get Nissan’s desire to make the Maxima a comfortable front-wheel-drive full-size sedan with plenty of premium features, but is remembering the car’s past too much to ask? A proper four-door sports car ought to have the proper transmission.
While the Maxima is front-wheel-drive, the Dodge Charger comes in either standard rear- or optional all-wheel drive. Think of the Charger as the sedan version of the Challenger since both are built on the same platform. But while the Challenger has a six-speed manual option, the Charger only comes with an eight-speed automatic. Yes, that also includes the Charger Hellcat.
With the demise of the FJ Cruiser, Toyota’s other down and dirty true off-roader is the 4Runner. Yes, there’s also the Land Cruiser and Tundra-based Sequoia, but both are big and, for some, too luxurious. The mid-size 4Runner is their preferred option. There’s really not much to not like about it other than, you guessed it, a lack of a manual option. Sadly, the only transmission available is a five-speed automatic.
Everyone loves the idea of having a six-speed manual in an M3/M4 and M5, but what about BMW’s flagship high-performance SUV (sorry, BMW…SAV), the X5 M? Shouldn’t it too be made available with three pedals? Apparently not. Look, it’s not that the X5 M’s 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters isn’t any good, it’s just that this rig would be so much more fun to flog around if the driver was controlling the shifts.
This is the one we just can’t figure out. Alfa Romeo’s first new car in the US in years is the gorgeous 4C. OK, that part we get, but what we don’t is why it was engineered to have a six-speed dual-clutch only? On the bright side, it does come with paddle shifters but we still believe an Alfa is at its very best when there’s a manual.
Audi, pay attention here: if Porsche offers the Cayman (specifically the GT4) with a manual, then why the hell don’t you do the same with the new TT RS? Its seven-speed dual-clutch is great and all but isn’t this supposed to be a real driver’s car?
All new Ferraris: There hasn’t been a new Ferrari equipped with a manual since the California (not the California T) went out of production in 2013. However, only three of those cars had a manual, one of which was sent to the UK.
All new Lamborghinis: There hasn’t been a new Lamborghini equipped with a manual since the Gallardo went out of production in 2013 as well. As of now, Lamborghini doesn’t have plans to offer one with its replacement, the Huracan.