Manual vs. Automatic is as Bad as Politics
Because it depends on what you value.
What is often the (modern) argument for manuals?
"It's more engaging."
"I like the control."
"I like the feeling and operation of the clutch pedal and the stick shift."
"Perfecting up- and downshifts is rewarding."
What are the arguments against a manual transmission?
"It's less efficient, both in fuel economy and acceleration metrics."
"Automatics are faster than humans now."
"I don't want to have to shift in traffic."
"A proper, well calibrated automatic shouldn't gear hunt and the good ones will hold a gear to redline until you upshift with the paddle and will also rev match downshift."
Modal efficiencies are not a direct argument against someone's sensation of feeling rewarded.
It's like someone arguing Diet Coke is better than regular Coke because it has less sugar, but the other person said, "I love the taste of regular Coke." [ed., I originally wrote this as, "I love the taste of steak", but figured that a bridge too far.]
The arguments tend to 'talk around' one another in this way. Because what you value drives what traits you prefer over others, but that doesn't make them valid arguments against someone else's values.
Every now and again someone will say they actually prefer the driving experience of an automatic transmission, which is fine. And, lucky for you, near every car is made with one. Us people that would prefer a manual transmission have fewer and fewer options to pick from, and almost no regular cars come with one anymore [and, really, if you want to pander about acceleration metrics, I bet some regular cars would be quicker with a manual transmission still].
What I value is dying. That's not true; what I value remains, but the ability to experience what I value is slowly but surely being snuffed out. And much of my enthusiasm about cars along with it.
EssExTee last edited by
@flatisflat ... I prefer diet coke. The regular stuff is sickeningly sweet to me.
Taylor Martin last edited by
@flatisflat So what you're saying is we should bring back the VW Autostick and get the best of both worlds so everyone will shutup about it
ash78 last edited by
Your left foot NEEDS something to do. I use it for the brake in autos; clutch in manuals.
We haven't even started talking about weight or cost savings. Seems like hacking $1,000-$1,500 off the top of MSRP would go a long way against inflation...but only if you have critical mass. Whenever the manual is made to be the "oddity" it's easy to charge just as much -- or more -- for it.
@ash78 Yeah, all the costs around designing, engineering, fitting, homologating two transmissions vs. one is absurd to think about when a model might have a 15% take rate on the manual transmission. Doesn't make fiscal sense.
MUSASHI66 last edited by
@flatisflat What is really sad is that the head of the M division doesn’t understand the appeal of manuals.
Modern automatics are excellent, and I have no problem with one as a daily, but if the Abarth ever goes away, I might have to go used route for my fun car with a stick.
awesomeaustinv last edited by
@MUSASHI66 This is where my values come in in regards to the disappearance of manuals! Buy used, take care of your stuff, consumerism bad, stewardship good. If you want to save the manuals, buy an interesting used car with one and take good care of it. If you want shiny new objects, restore rusty old objects to make them shiny and new again. It’s the circle of sustainability!
CoolMinivan.......Nobody last edited by
@flatisflat Let me preface this: I LOVE DRIVING MANUAL.
But I have a bad left knee that makes driving them a painful experience, so I own exclusively autos and harbor no hate towards them.
I've also experienced many modern automatic vehicles where the manual just feels like a chore that takes the joy out of the car. The Hellcat Challenger is a great example of this, as are most other high power cars. The manual just becomes a chore where you're constantly shifting instead of enjoying the car's power delivery, it's handling, or any of it's other aspects.
nermal last edited by
M boss Frank van Meel said, "The manual is slower and results in a higher fuel consumption [and] sometimes has also a lower top speed, so the manual actually from an engineering standpoint made no real sense anymore.”
I'm reminded of the same kinda backwards thinking that Gale Banks uses to justify his whining.
I, a person with money to spend, want an open intake and a manual transmission. Why? Because it makes cool whooshing sounds and is fun to drive. I don't care the top speed of a road car, or how many CFMs an intake will flow. Those things are irrelevant, and presented as a distraction.
Cars like the WRX and Integra require a shift to 3rd to hit 60mph. That will make their 0-60 time slower than cars that can hit it in 2nd or even 1st. Does that make them worse?
For a road car, no, it actually makes them better.
The trend has been to give newer "sporty" cars more power but excessively long gearing, along with a yuge ratio drop from 2-3. That makes no sense, especially for road usage.
Take any new "sporty" manual car - M2/3/4, Z, Supra, Mustang, GT4, The V Caddies... every single one of them would be better to drive on the road with 100hp less, and at least 25% shorter ratios in the first 4 gears.
BMW is choosing to exit a niche market. That's fine, but in this case the boss is reading the market wrong. He's whining about things that he cares about, not what part of the market cares about.
ttyymmnn last edited by ttyymmnn
What I value is dying. That's not true; what I value remains, but the ability to experience what I value is slowly but surely being snuffed out.
I hear you. I spent my formative driving years rowing the boat, and in my adulthood I bought a 2001 Golf to continue that experience. Unfortunately, a drunk totaled my Golf. I don't see me getting another manual anytime soon, if ever, though the Accord I just bought is 10 years old and my Odyssey is 20 years old, so I clearly have no qualms about driving an older car.
All that said, I took one of my 17-year-olds out in the Accord the other day. It's got a V6, so it's ridiculously more powerful than the 4 cylinder Civic with CVT he's driving now. We turned onto a main road and I said, "Go ahead. Put your foot in it." Which he did, and you should have seen the look on his face. He was smiling like a mule eating briars. So while he may never shift a manual gear in his life, he is still getting to experience the thrill of a car that puts you back in the seat. And, TBH, it makes me grin too.
tae last edited by
@flatisflat I think the issue with manuals is that to most people it's only a "nice to have" feature and not an integral part of the experience. These people also compare the performance of an automatic car and no longer see a reason why to buy the manual.
In that sense, its not like diet coke and regular coke, it's more like coke in a glass bottle and coke in a can; ultimately that product characteristic has to line up with the manufacturer's overall strategies and objectives. BMW wants to move to electric cars and it wants to make sure it's considered as a forward thinking company... they also want to break out into markets where margins are tight and having multiple gearbox options makes little sense economically.
Manuals are nice, but it's also a dead technology. I think that the BMW CEO is totally missing the point but he's probably thinking about the company's objectives.
Dr_Watson last edited by
For pure driving enjoyment give me a manual. But if the goal is going fast a paddle shift sequential will always win. I also get that daily driving in gridlock with a clutch is tiresome. So automatic does have plenty of upsides of it's own.
The debate is however becoming increasingly moot as cars go electric and don't even need a transmission.
@flatisflat the problem is if you want a fun, engaging, momentum car that's fun to drive with a stick, the first thing everyone says when it gets announced is it's too slow. can you imagine an M-series car with like 260hp? Maybe 300? The current M3 is 476. I've driven obnoxiously fast cars in a manual, and a R8 V10 is definitely not more engaging with a manual unless you're on a track with some serious runoffs. Things are happening WAY too fast for your average enthusiast driver to actually wring more than 60% of the performance out of that car on even the most deserted public road. A current M3 is no slower in a straight line. An automatic at least gives them a chance.
Slow car fast > fast car slow. My enthusiasm for cars waned but it wasn't until after I came to appreciate that faster is not always better. The only cars that stay true to this are the BRZ, maybe the Z, and the Miata. Maybe the GR Corolla. Which is why those will have manuals, and the next M cars won't. The BMW buyers - and pretty much everyone - is too focused on mind-bending acceleration, and the cars are becoming unwieldy as a result. Cars have never been better, and as a result, they've never been worse.
ranwhenparked last edited by
@Taylor-Martin Or, start offering those "city clutch" devices that are popular aftermarket accessories in India - that way, its just a totally normal manual transmission, until you push a little red button that switches the clutch to automatic.
@notsomethingstructural But even here, this is the thing: I prefer a manual even when doddling through the neighborhood and running errands. Zero sporting pretensions in mind.
My desire for a manual transmission does not require a sports car, maintaining momentum, or spirited driving. These are not prerequisites for my feeling rewarded by the experience.
But again, these are just my values.
Future Next Gen S2000 Owner last edited by
It's not as bad but it's pretty bad. Each has it's place. Pele get hung up on it being the only "real" choice. Not everyone can drive a manual. Most people don't care. We tend to forget we are the vast minority of new car buyers. Such is life.
dogisbadob last edited by
415s30 last edited by
@flatisflat I like a manual on my Z but I don't want a modern car with one. I have to go into SF and it's a pain in the ass.
Huzer last edited by
@flatisflat I spoke with my wallet, and it’s what my son wants in his first vehicle. It is my first manual transmission daily driver since my ‘04 RX-8. I just enjoy driving a manual transmission and hope to keep this one for quite some time.
Miss Mercedes last edited by
I prefer manual transmissions and will buy a car with one any chance I get. It's why my BMW X5 has a manual and even though VW didn't sell the Passat TDI wagon with a manual, I went and bought a manual swapped one. Heck, even my favorite scooter has a manual transmission.
That said, I don't really care that much. I will buy an automatic if there is a deal to be had and the transmission isn't unreliable. If I can get a car for half of its "enthusiast" value because it's auto, I'll do it. That was the case with my E39 and my E61. Both were so cheap I couldn't say no. And sometimes I really dig the EV experience of "point and click" ease of driving. All transmissions have their place!
Some enthusiasts get all bent out of shape over it, loving manual transmissions to the point of getting toxic about it. Knowing how to shift gears isn't a superhero skill and it shouldn't be your only personality trait...
awesomeaustinv last edited by
@notsomethingstructural If the goal was just to promote driving enjoyment above all else (which I think it should be, even though that's an unpopular opinion, though that's besides the point) I would solve it by banning all computers in cars. We have fantastic mechanical engineering now, better than it's ever been, make speed challenging to accomplish again using purely analog/basic electromechanical engineering.
This would, among other things, remove the benefits of modern automatics that use computers to control shift timing; reinstating manuals as the superior transmission for speed. Maybe also DCTs, idk how those work, but they're manual-ish. Also gets rid of driving modes, so you actually have to prioritize how the car should behave at all times, and reduces crazy hp to more manageable levels.
I would also invent a new power rating system nobody understands, with much higher numbers to distract people from the fact that cars are making less power.
spacekraken last edited by
@flatisflat I go for the clutch with my left leg all the time coming up to stops and I've never owned a manual myself, just driven a bunch of them. I hope I can buy one as my next car just for the fun part of it.