Not even this noted gearhead will stick up for sticks!
When supercars first began to come out with paddle shifters, Jeremy Clarkson was adamantly against them. BMW's SMG and Ferrari's F1 transmission were good examples of how bad a semi-automatic could be. In Clarkson's words, the first attempts at these semi-automatic transmissions were "jerky and complicated and completely incapable of setting off without making more smoke than a First World War battleship." Now it seems that the former host of BBC's "Top Gear" has changed his mind.
Writing for The Sun, Clarkson asks why "would anyone ever buy a car with a manual gearbox these days?" He compares buying a manual to saying: "I don’t need a television with a remote control. I’m perfectly capable of walking over to it and changing the channel myself." While we can clearly see that buying a manual is silly when your think about it, they are still worth it when you are on a fun road. It seems that Clarkson has thought of that too. He says that "on a racetrack or a deserted switchback road in the Atlas mountains a manual gearbox is sublime" it makes him go "all tingly." But of course the majority of folks don't live in these places, least of all Brits, making manuals more trouble than they are worth.
Dual-clutch units have done a lot to fix the issue that once plagued semi-automatics. "Flappy paddle" transmissions are now faster and more economical than manual transmissions. Even diehard purists like Clarkson can no longer deny that they are better. Now that dual-clutches are relatively inexpensive, Clarkson thinks that "the only people who would buy an old-fashioned gearstick manual are the sort who choose not to have a washing machine because they prefer to clean their clothes in the local river." In America, where very few people still drive a manual, Clarkson is definitely correct. However, over 70% of cars sold in Britain have a manual. Apparently these folks are mad, at least in his opinion. Purists, sorry to say, but you've lost an ally.