• Sign in to Neowin Faster!

    Create an account on Neowin to contribute and support the site.

Sign in to follow this  

Let’s Admit It: Manual Transmissions Need to Go

Recommended Posts

Thomas the Tank Engine    420

 

Quote

I'm going to take a lot of heat for what I'm about to say. While no manufacturer can expressly admit it, behind closed doors, deep within the bunkers in Detroit, Munich, Stuttgart, and Tokyo, most engineers will nod in agreement. With enough soul searching, quite a few of my fellow automotive writers will find themselves agreeing, too.

 

The visceral allure of the manual transmission as we know and love it isn't dying. It's dead, and has been for a long time. We were just too busy trying to save it to notice. Today's manual transmissions are little more than a status symbol, a romanticized piece of performance heritage kept on life support by the misplaced devotion of car guys. The time has come for them to go. There. I've said it.

 

Go ahead and call me a blasphemer, a traitor to the cause of the Manual Transmission Preservation Society, a car guy non grata. I tore myself to shreds to reach this conclusion. I threw out everything I thought I believed about cars and found what's at the core of the third pedal's existential crisis: our own delusion of purity. Forget superior performance and fuel economy; those flew out the window a long time ago. Instead, the manual has continued to rest on its laurels as the most pure driving experience. In truth, it's an illusion, and it's time to face reality.

 

Imagine driving down the road in a classic 1960s sports car...

 

...or even something from the 1980s, if that's what floats your boat. There's a sharp bend up ahead. You ease onto the brakes, and through the ball of your foot, you feel the tires' fight against the laws of physics as they struggle to grip the road. You need to downshift. Pushing in the clutch, you know instinctively when it's time to change gears, thanks to nothing but mechanical linkages connecting your foot to the powertrain. You move the gearshift from third gear, down, over, and down again into second. Simultaneously, you kick out the heel of your still-braking right foot and stab at the throttle, sensing when all the powertrain components are spinning at the same speed. You let off the clutch, feeling all the parts engage with one another and do their thing. Accelerating away after the corner, the vibrations coming through the gearshift tell you in concert with the mechanical symphony of the engine that it's time to shift.

 

That is the essence of driving nirvana. That's why I and so many of you grew up so fond of the manual transmission.

 

Have no idea what I'm talking about? Put your headphones on and pull up C'était un Rendezvous, the classic French short film with almost no sounds, except those of a Ferrari 275 GTB as it tears through Paris. Don't even watch. Just close your eyes and listen during the downshifts, just hear the gloriously connected sounds. Truly, it's a slice of vehicular heaven, and it captures the joy -- the pureness -- of driving an older car with a manual transmission.

 

Now listen to a modern muscle car during shifting, and you'll sense a much more muted visceral experience. Not bad, per se, but not even remotely like it once was. You can pick virtually any car made today with a manual transmission and get the same result. So what happened?

 

For generations, car guys have worshipped at the three-pedal altar

 

The Cult of the Clutch stems from decades of dominance in two key areas: performance and fuel economy. For the entirety of the 20th century, the automatic lagged far behind. Performance is passion; it drives innovation, and for serious car people, manual transmissions held a hegemonic grip on our hearts. Even today, they're so often the difference between a truly collectible old classic worthy of restoration, and a forgotten appliance built for the masses. For the gone-but-not-forgotten of the automotive world, that will never change. But for the cars of the automatic era, there's simply no going back.

 

It's hardly a secret that today's automatics* offer superior fuel economy. This paradigm shift ultimately bore an insurmountable obstacle in the marketing for manual transmissions, hastening the disappearance of the manual from more than a few option sheets. Your eccentric college professors in manual Echos and Civics, who cared more about pinching pennies at the pump than enjoyment behind the wheel? They simply switched to an automatic as soon as it made financial sense, and never looked back.

 


* Dual Clutch Transmissions, or DCTs, while mechanically more similar to a manual transmission, offer much the same driver experience as an automatic, so I'm lumping them in the same two pedal category here.
			


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the rest: https://www.thrillist.com/cars/nation/lets-admit-it-manual-transmissions-need-to-go

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gotenks98    546

I agree. I have never like manual, I am just too lazy to do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MikeChipshop    3,458

A lot of people enjoy driving as a hobby. For them automatic gearboxes just are never going to recreate the same feel.

Manual doesn't "Need" to go any where. 

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steve B.    467

Having driven both a reasonable amount, manual gives a greater level of control over the vehicle, and auto boxes just don't have the same grunt when you need to get going. Maybe I've only driven naff auto boxes, but I find when I put my foot down the car takes a moment to think and then goes "Oh you actually want go go NOW" and then changes and then you've moving. By then the once large gap is a heck of a lot smaller.

 

My next car will be manual, partly for that and partly for the price.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tsupersonic    1,816

How about this? Let's keep the manuals and automatics, and kill what really needs to be killed - CVT's. :D

 

Just now, Steve B. said:

Having driven both a reasonable amount, manual gives a greater level of control over the vehicle, and auto boxes just don't have the same grunt when you need to get going. Maybe I've only driven naff auto boxes, but I find when I put my foot down the car takes a moment to think and then goes "Oh you actually want go go NOW" and then changes and then you've moving. By then the once large gap is a heck of a lot smaller.

 

My next car will be manual, partly for that and partly for the price.

The thing is a good modern automatic (like a ZF8 or most DCTs) will still shift faster than you can manually. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steve B.    467
Just now, tsupersonic said:

How about this? Let's keep the manuals and automatics, and kill what really needs to be killed - CVT's. :D

 

The thing is a good modern automatic (like a ZF8 or most DCTs) will still shift faster than you can manually. 

The actual shift, yeah I imagine it can, but in the prep time you can be ready to go and the engine knows that in a manual, in an auto it doesn't know until you hit your pedal. Each to their own really.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Brandon    295

I hate driving autos. I feel so disconnected, plus I feel like in some situations, I'm fighting the transmissions (especially in mountains)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tsupersonic    1,816
Just now, Steve B. said:

The actual shift, yeah I imagine it can, but in the prep time you can be ready to go and the engine knows that in a manual, in an auto it doesn't know until you hit your pedal. Each to their own really.

Again, not my experience with a ZF-8 or most DCT's. I know with my last car, it will downshift multiple gears (depending on if it went past kickdown) to get maximum performance, and it was pretty instant (<200 ms)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MightyJordan    7,590

With the rise of electric cars, you'll get your wish.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wakjak    17,973
5 minutes ago, tsupersonic said:

How about this? Let's keep the manuals and automatics, and kill what really needs to be killed - CVT's:D

 

 

Yes yes yes. CVT's are garbage..

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
shockz    5,745

I missed my manual when I switched to automatic. It was annoying because the higher trim levels for that particular car... bigger engine, sunroof, etc... only had an automatic. My new car has a manual mode which helps me miss it less, but it still doesn't have a clutch, or the actual motion of rowing through gears. Hate to say it though, but aside from exotics/sports cars... it's going the way of the dinosaur. Automatics shift faster than manual and provide better MPG.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim K    13,476

Manuals do not need to go.  Maybe the clutch ... but not the ability to select whichever gear you want. :) I <heart> manuals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thomas the Tank Engine    420
13 minutes ago, Gotenks98 said:

I agree. I have never like manual, I am just too lazy to do it.

For me, it's not about being 'lazy' -- although I've only driven a car [automatic] once since getting my learner's license early last year -- it's that I am too old to learn manual; I just want to put it in drive & go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thomas the Tank Engine    420
10 minutes ago, tsupersonic said:

CVT

I had to look that up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sc302    1,735

manuals don't need to go anywhere.  They are fine right where they are.  Sometimes you just want to row the gears. 

 

More control in autox yes, more control in inclement weather not really to not at all.  What gives you more control in inclement weather isn't a manual it is the traction control system with an automatic.  Older cars do not have this, but at this point it is just old people fodder that states you have more control with an automatic in inclement weather.  Your brain and shifting capabilities can not keep up with the millions of calculations that the traction control systems is doing and noticing the slightest increase/decrease of wheel spin, by the time you feel it it could be too late. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wv@gt    2,467

Long time Manual driver here, always hated Automatics. My new Subaru Crosstrek has a CVT and its by far the best CVT I've driven yet and it has paddle shifters. 

Now thats not saying I'm in love with it, I prefer manuals still and hoping to find another Crosstrek in a Manual. Sadly the U.S market its slim pickings and only a 5 speed manual is offered, where as the rest of the world gets the 6speed. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
domboy    271

Reading that... the way he described the driving experience...  was he trying to talk me out of a manual? Because it sure didn't work. :rolleyes:

 

I've heard all these same arguments before, though I still am not sure if automatics cover all the old reasons to get a manual yet. Sure there are some that are more fuel efficient but they are still more expensive. All else being equal or even in favor of an automatic, I still won't enjoy it as much. Plus I pay a heck of a lot better attention to driving when I actually have to drive using more than just my right foot to mash a pedal. Plus Less likely to mess with a phone etc. 

 

Manual transmissions have to go the same time automatics do... when we don't need a transmission at all because electric motors are connected directly to the wheels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
neufuse    3,743

I never liked manuals.... and with automatics now including tap shift and semi-automatics and other capabilities it makes it even harder for me to like manuals....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SierraSonic    583

Automated clutching removes a huge aspect from driving, to the point where it no longer driving a car, just commuting in one.

 

I personally want manual transmission driving to be a requirement to earn a drivers licence, then you can move on to another transmission once you prove you can actually control a vehicle, this would weed out a lot of bad driving habits from the start.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thomas the Tank Engine    420
Just now, SierraSonic said:

Automated clutching removes a huge aspect from driving, to the point where it no longer driving a car, just commuting in one.

 

I personally want manual transmission driving to be a requirement to earn a drivers licence, then you can move on to another transmission once you prove you can actually control a vehicle, this would weed out a lot of bad driving habits from the start.

Here in Canada -- I know for sure in AB -- that you actually have a choice of what type of transmission you want to learn while taking driving lessons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Brandon    295
1 hour ago, sc302 said:

What gives you more control in inclement weather isn't a manual it is the traction control system with an automatic.  Older cars do not have this, but at this point it is just old people fodder that states you have more control with an automatic in inclement weather.  Your brain and shifting capabilities can not keep up with the millions of calculations that the traction control systems is doing and noticing the slightest increase/decrease of wheel spin, by the time you feel it it could be too late. 

Not true at all. Most "traction control" systems just won't give power to wheels that are slipping. In some situations, it's counter productive (heavy snow) since you're slipping the entire time and *any* wheel movement is helpful to get you moving forward. I've had times where my car would refuse to go forward because the wheels were slipping on packed snow until I turned off TCS. TCS can be useful in some situations, but not all. Plus all modern manual cars have TCS, standard. 

 

Manuals give you a lot more control over slowing down than an auto does. Going down a hill with snow, I can down-shift to 2nd and engine brake. Most people in an automatic would just slam on their brakes and slide all over. Seen it happen probably a dozen times a year on the road/hill by my house. Also, especially in small 4-cyl cars, a manual usually has better acceleration, not to mention, I can keep it in 3rd gear at highway speeds to pass where an automatic would have to sense me flooring it to downshift and get the pickup I need.  

 

The issue is that people are lazy. My girlfriend even said "This is too much to think about". Reality is that once you've done it for a few months, you stop thinking. I know my car well enough that I know how the engine sounds at various RPMs and can completely zone out and not think about shifting at all. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thomas the Tank Engine    420
6 minutes ago, Brandon said:

The issue is that people are lazy. My girlfriend even said "This is too much to think about". Reality is that once you've done it for a few months, you stop thinking. I know my car well enough that I know how the engine sounds at various RPMs and can completely zone out and not think about shifting at all. 

As I said earlier:

 

1 hour ago, Thomas the Tank Engine said:

For me, it's not about being 'lazy' -- although I've only driven a car [automatic] once since getting my learner's license early last year -- it's that I am too old to learn manual; I just want to put it in drive & go.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Brandon    295
3 minutes ago, Thomas the Tank Engine said:

As I said earlier:

 

 

Which means you don't want to think about it. Takes too much effort/time/etc to learn and perfect it. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's nothing physically stopping you from learning besides your own (lack) of desire to do so. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Zinomian    141

another topic about "you need to do this or that" and or you "must or have to do this".   People are different, people like different things, people do different things, and as such, things need to be different.   We all do not need to fit a pattern or a system.  This argument as such is dumb and without resolution or consensus from everyone.   Both transmissions are great for what they do, and some will like one or the other.....dumb.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
winrez    120

I say kill it.

 

cheaper development costs and the added price of an automatic transmission would go down since they would be made in higher volume ( I drove manual on 3 previous cars) and wound up preferring automatic eventually with future cars being able to drive themselves the new "Manual" will be actually driving the car without assist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.