Transmission

Subaru May Ditch Manuals Altogether For Safety

Even Subaru's sporting models are under threat

The humble manual transmission has served us well for over 100 years. But in a regulatory environment increasingly favoring fuel economy and safety, the right to row your own has come under frequent and significant threat. The latest automaker to consider ditching the standard transmission is Subaru. According to Auto Express, it wants to be the safest brand on the block. That mean the manual might go the way of the dodo for future Subarus—and not just in more pedestrian models, either.

The culprit for Subaru is its EyeSight system, which gives its models automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control functionality. The system is only compatible with Subaru's Lineartronic continuously variable transmission. So, using some basic logic, if Subaru is to roll-out its EyeSight technology on call cars in the future, the company either needs to make it compatible with manual transmissions—or those transmissions get the axe. “There are certainly no rumours we’ve heard that manual will continue, or Eyesight will be [offered] with manual,” Subaru UK managing director Chris Graham told Auto Express.

“My gut tells me it will be Eyesight with Lineartronic ongoing and long term. They want to steal the mantle of the safest car in the world. I think if they do that, then they say ‘here’s a manual without Eyesight’, they’ll just ruin that [message],” he continued. But, if that happens, it won't be just Subaru's bread-and-butter models arriving as automatic-only affairs. Graham sees it affecting the sportier end of the lineup, too. “For me an STI has to be a manual in the guise it is today, however if you look at [auto-only] M-series BMWs, I don’t think this is the end and I’d be very excited if they had a hybrid petrol STI. That would be phenomenal in terms of its acceleration.”

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