It's a good old fashioned debate, CarBuzz style!
We all know that manual transmissions are dying a slow death. Even BMW's M performance division has been ditching manuals in favor of dual-clutches. Ferrari and Lamborghini don't even offer manual transmissions anymore. But is this such a bad thing? Two of our writers, Jared Rosenholtz and Gabe Beita-Kiser, will attempt to answer that question here. Jared is on the side that manuals must be saved. Enthusiasts, meet your savior. Gabe on other hand thinks we should let self-shifting die. This should be good.
The list of cars that are offered with manuals is alarmingly small these days. Mini is the only car company that offers an entire range of cars with three pedals. So what is so important about keeping this technology alive? For one thing, the sheer simplicity of a manual is highly enjoyable. Just because a technology is newer does not automatically mean it's better. Writing on a computer is highly efficient, but that doesn't mean people have stopped writing with their hands. Fine handwriting is still prized for its beauty, and in case you haven't noticed notebooks still exist, and not just in electronic form. Hell, some people still like the feel of typing on a typewriter!
Like the typewriter, the manual transmission is delightfully old school, engaging and forces you to focus. With a manual you're the one moving through the gears which means you can't just zone out with your foot on the gas. If you call yourself an enthusiast, buying a manual should be high on your shopping list. Think of it this way. I could go buy the same running shoes as Usain Bolt, but it doesn't make me a runner. Hell, I might just wear those shoes on runs to Burger King. In the same breath a guy can go in to a Ford dealership and buy an automatic Mustang. But buying the manual version (and knowing how to use it) differentiates you from the average Joe who really doesn't care about cars. We promise that car guys will compliment your choice!
In addition to the cool factor, the manual will also save you some of your hard-earned cash. Manuals usually cost around $1,000 less than automatics. You could take that $1,000 and put it toward a nicer set of wheels or use it to check off some pricey options. The manual transmission has definitely become more of an emotional decision. In the digital world where numbers dictate every choice we make, it is nice to have one decision that requires human input. Make the choice to make your life more fun: Buy a manual transmission and keep the days of the six-speed (manual) alive!
The thing about fundamentalism is that it's on the losing side of history. People are afraid of the inevitable hand of change, so they resort back to their comfort zones and live a life reminiscing about how things used to be better. Instead, they could be tailoring the newest technology and ways of thinking to give them what they want rather than cursing it for ruining "the way things used to be." There is a reason that Ferrari and other automotive greats have called it quits on the manual. Think of it this way: When does a Ferrari owner use their car? Chances are the supercar is either used to commute from the mansion to the office or for track days.
In both situations, an automatic transmission is better suited to the job. Commuting sucks as it is, so why would anyone want to make it more of a chore by having to constantly shift gears? All that work will eventually wear away your clutch and soon enough, a resurfacing or replacement job robs you of the $1,000 you saved by forgoing an automatic. Sure, a manual might seem fun on a track at first, but once you get good enough to push some serious lap times you're going to be constantly limited by the gears. An automatic not only allows the driver to be on the edge all of the time, but they still have the luxury of thinking about when, where, and at what RPM they need to flick the paddle shifter.
If you're a real gearhead don't tell me you haven't fantasized about flipping the paddles to noisily downshift your fictional Porsche 918 into a corner. Then you go balls to the firewall on the throttle and pull the paddle for each new gear as if every pull released the gates of hell and attempted to give you a concussion using G-force and your carbon fiber racing seat. Gone are the days where automatics were annoying impediments to fun. The simple fact is that with an automatic, you can do more. They're less annoying in the city (where 80 percent of the US population lives) and lets you be on a knife's edge at high speeds. They widen the range of possibilities of any car while making them more tolerable day after day. Don't fear change: Let manuals die.