Uncooked Truth: A Sad State of Manual Transmission Affairs

 

The manual transmission is becoming less and less available on cars that are more fun than ever to drive. This puts Josh in a predicament like nothing else being such a manual fan, hence the Uncooked Truth about to be said.

Here at RawAutos we take pride in knowing that the manual transmission is the greatest way to drive any car. Whether you like it or not, speed was founded on the principles of having a manual gearbox. That overall connection between you and the machine; visceral in every way.

Sad, then, these days with double-clutch and fast shifting ZF automatic gearboxes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a car, period, with anything in it. Everything engineering fascinates me, as it should any car guy or gal. But I do not like that I can’t option a manual as much anymore. And that really, really infuriates me deep down in my bones. I get a chilling anger and despise towards any car company that basically laughs at me, the manual driver, because I want to swap cogs myself.

“It’s slower.” “It’s not as efficient.” “It’s not cool to do it yourself anymore.”

Well you know what, Hans Gruber, it’s very cool for me to push in a clutch with my left foot while simultaneously moving a gear stick into another gear. If I’m pulling it into a lower gear, I’ll happily heel-toe myself without a computer showing me how inferior I am at it.

Computers are great things, and damnit do I love ‘em. From Google to Facebook, and iMDB, all the way over to this web-’zine where I wrote my first article on October 1, 2007. It’s been nearly 6 years, and my have these interwebz grown since then. I remember the days when YouTube didn’t have resolution above 480p. And I even recall when Jalopnik and Autoblog were still in their infancy and trying to make an important splash.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, etc. bully me into choosing what they have to offer just because there are only 45 people that would want that car with a manual anyway. I want it. And damnit, if I’m paying for it, put it in my car… because I said so. Don’t make me go all childhood mother on your asses.

I’m so tired of these interviews where product engineers and vehicle dynamics specialists undermine the question of “why no manual?” or condescendingly reply that a car has too much torque for a clutch pedal. Well you know what, Franz, then take all that power and torque out of the car and let me enjoy all that I can, instead of fantasize about all that I’ll never be able to use. Why can’t I just go to a race track? Well, as much as I want to, it’s a tad difficult when I just took out a $343,784 loan for my brand new 911 Turbo fantastico RS 5.4. It’s really special, because it has contrasting stitching in the seats that looks like a middle finger. Did I mention I couldn’t get a manual transmission with it because that would make it slower around every race track than a Nissan GT-R?

There’s a war going on between everything and the GT-R, folks. It’s cheap(er), not so special to look at or live in, and has more computing power than all of Japan. Oh, and did I mention that it’s faster than anything else, and that does kind of make it bad ass and cool. Isn’t it awesome?! Totes, dude. And I do lift, bro.

Let’s just go through the list of great cars that don’t come with a manual, even though they should.

Aston Martin: Vanquish, Vanquish Volante | Audi: A3 TDI, RS 5, S6, RS 6, S7, RS 7, TTS | Bentley: Continental GT | BMW: 6-Series, 328d, 535d, X1, X3, X5, Z4 sDrive35is | Ferrari: every model… | Hyundai Genesis Sedan | Jaguar: XKR, XKR-S, XFR, XFR-S, F-Type | McLaren: MP4-12c | Lamborghini: Aventador | Mercedes-Benz: SLS AMG, SLS AMG Black Series, well, every AMG productCLA | Porsche: 991 GT3, 991 Turbo/Turbo S, Panamera GTS, Cayenne GTS

But let’s take a moment and feel good about the cars that do come with a good ol’ fashioned manual.

Aston Martin: V8 Vantage, V12 Vantage | Audi: S4, S5, R8 | BMW: M3, soon-to-be M4 (don’t get me started on that), M5, M6, 3-Series, 4-Series, 1-Series, some of the 535s and 550s | Cadillac: ATS, CTS-V | Chevrolet: Camaro, Corvette Stingray | Chrysler group: Dodge Challenger, SRT Viper | Fiat: 500 Abarth | Ford: Mustang, Focus ST, Fiesta ST | Hyundai: Genesis Coupe | Lamborghini: LP560-4 | Lotus: Evora | Mazda: 3, 6, CX-5 | MINI: Cooper, Clubman, Countryman | Porsche: Cayman, 911 Carrera, Boxster | Scion: FR-S | Subaru: BRZ

I know I’m forgetting some cars…

Now the replacement for the Galardo LP560-4 won’t have a manual, but let me take a quick moment to say that you can build a $180,000 Audi R8 V10 Plus with a manual transmission. Yes, a super car that still has a manual gearbox.

But this is what sucks: Porsche are showing off these new, amazing models. I mean, the Turbo and Turbo S have active aerodynamics that do things that no other car can do right now. Also, the new GT3 is absolutely awesome, except for the fact that it’s PDK only, just like the new Turbo.

While I don’t doubt that the new GT3 and Turbo models are going to drive exceptionally. I mean, for God’s sake… they’re Porsches, you think I’m that nuts to believe otherwise? But to hear and see Andreas Preuninger speak annoyingly about people wanting a non-PDK gearbox in the GT3 is just ridiculous to me. At some point we have to quit this obsession with speed at any cost and worry about usable performance.

For those that would like to argue against my point that the GT-R is the reason all this is happening, I give you exhibit a: The fastest current lap time of the Nissan GT-R at the Nürburgring is 7:24.22, and Porsche were first saying that the new 2014 911 GT3 would lap the Nordschleife in “under 7:30″. And we’re now hearing it’s about 7:25.

When Flat Sixes interviewed Mr. Preuninger about the new GT3, this was his answer to the question of “why no manual?”

“When a huge part of our customers still insist on a manual we will not ignore this. But, a manual will be not only slower in acceleration but the car will also be less capable in cornering because we cannot combine the electronic e-diff with a manual, because there’s no hydraulic pump in the manual to feed the e-diff. Positive influence of e-diff is significant on turn in, under steer (none at all) and brake stability.”

When Road & Track did their first drive of the new GT3 back in April, Jason Cammisa wrote how great the car was, but that there was just something missing:

“The GT3 has always been the 911 that offered the least of what techno-crazed Germans would call “progress,” but as a result, it led the sports-car world in terms of driving experience. It was the rawest, purest expression of everything that defines the 911—right down to its detuned race motor and wrist breaker of a manual shift lever.”

“Ugh, God, you’re one of them!” says Preuninger, rolling his eyes. “Just shut up and drive the thing.”

Later Cammisa said this, which is spot on:

“And while the GT3′s PDK is one of the better automatics, there is not, nor will there ever be, an automatic that is as involving as a manual. The 911, like so many other cars, has traded a degree of involvement for speed. We’d happily lose time on the sprint to 60 mph, or a few seconds per lap, if it meant more fun …”

But I also have to say one thing. Car buyers are truly at fault. Lazy, fast food eating, cell phone using, gotta-have-it-now car buyers. The very people that cause the most accidents, drive more irresponsibly, and have a dedicated lack of responsibility in this world. And that’s our fault. We don’t challenge students in school enough, nor do we push them to go after their dreams. Well, we push them to go after their dreams, but we give them the easy way out. Your state government just wants the tax dollars, so they’ll give nearly anyone a license for just studying enough and knowing how to pull into a parking space. Congratulations, society. We’ve made wimpier people that are allowed to drive faster cars just because they have a driver’s license and the money to do so.

Screw that. I’ll gladly accept the fact that I’m a better driver because I want to be. I grew up in a car family, and that drive made me want to be what I am today.

Grow up, people. Get a life and enjoy it for once. Use your left leg, and don’t be ashamed of having to do things yourself, or even think for yourself every once in a while. Put your iPhone down; stop Instagramming; and go out and put your windows down and throw some of that passion into your driving habits.

But don’t just read my drivel, feel free to watch Porsche’s new YouTube videos on both the Turbo and GT3 cars. They look and sound amazing.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

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As always, thanks for reading, and go drive a manual transmission.

Update: A previous version of this article had the McLaren MP4-12C in the list of cars that came with a manual gearbox. As much as I’d love for this to be true, I knew that it wasn’t and just put it in the wrong spot. Sorry, I’m human.

[Source: Porsche via YouTube]

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A life long automotive enthusiast, Josh spends most of his time behind the wheel of a car of some sort. When he's not playing around with cars and writing about them, he relaxes by playing guitar while listening to all kinds of music, but mostly Blues, as well as writing some of his own. He's also working on writing a book, as well as movie/T.V. scripts for the future.

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  • Northmichgt3

    I traded a 2012 gtr (530hp dual clutch) for a lowly 2010 997.2 gt3 (435hp and 3 pedals). Sometimes pure joy isn’t “faster” or “easier”. I am never going back, no matter how great porsche says the 991 gt3 must be. 3 pedals, ultra heavy clutch, shifter that makes you work, steering with some feel and heft to it. Thats pure joy

  • unlikelyepiphany

    Hoping to close a deal on my first Porsche tomorrow. I’ve never driven an Automatic car and I am not starting now ! My Autotrader filter was: Porsche, 911, Manual Transmission

  • sergeygoriatchev

    I agree.
    I’ve chosen 997.1 Turbo with a manual transmission over a new 2013 GT-R.
    When I move away from Turbo to another Porsche, it is going to be 997.2 GT3.

  • Tom R.

    I just bought a 2013 Accord with a 6-speed. Three things made me mad:
    1.) The V6 comes with a stick in the coupe, but not in the sedan.
    2.) The highest trim levels do not offer a stick. Why leather and heated seats preclude a manual, I do not know.
    3.) For those trim levels that *do* offer a stick (LX, Sport, EX), you can get them in any color you want, so long as it is silver, “Modern Steel” (dark grey), or black. Actually, it’s worse than that: the Sport is not available in silver, and the EX/LX are not available in black. Really Honda? You’re limiting my paint choices based on my transmission choices? I’d love to hear the justification for that one.

    If they would have let me, I would have bought a V6 with Leather and every option (other than NAV) if they had offered it with a stick. Instead, I bought a much cheaper model and realized that the I-4 is actually plenty quick and I don’t miss the other stuff.

    I traded down from a 300hp six-speed Volvo to the Honda precisely because the Volvo was too fast to truly enjoy legally on public roads. By the time I got to the end of the on-ramp, I was grinning ear-to-ear, but also pushing triple-digits and risking my license. It truly is more fun to go fast in a slow car than slow in a fast car.

    The joy of driving a manual is the constant challenge to get the perfect gearchange. Work the clutch, the brakes, the gas, and the lever all in harmony and try to get it just right. It’s like hitting a baseball or a golf ball: when you get it right you can just feel it, and it is a beautiful thing. Sure, it’s slower, and it’s sometimes less efficient, but it’s involving and fun. There is a joy in doing something well, and a manual transmission provides many doses of that joy whenever you slide behind the wheel.

    Perhaps the thing that drives these engineers’ decisions, though, is the knowledge that the manual transmission won’t be around for long, as they have no place in an electric car or a hybrid.

  • adam222green

    No two ways about it: Porsche is manipulating their customer. They have the manual box in the Carrera and there’s no excuse (engineering, sales, marketing) to exclude it from the GT3, let alone the RS and at least one variant of the turbo and GT2.

    That said, I wouldn’t buy it.

    I’ve had every primary 911 type since the 964 was introduced and set lap records in a couple of them in Porsche Club events, and I’ve never been happier with a 911 than driving the RS 3.8 on track once set up with Hoosiers and decent brakes, but when my 991 GT3 arrives, it will have PDK and I wouldn’t have bought it with a manual box even if it was cheaper than paying for PDK, it’s just not the way of driving in a modern car.

    My pride and joy 993 GT2 clone will be with me till the grave and then in the hands of my children. The 991 GT3 will be sold as it becomes obsolete and surplus to purpose, to be replaced by the 991 GT3 RS, as has happened with the prior model 996 and 997 GT3′s in my garage over the years: setup for the track, tied down in a trailer, practically never driven on public roads. Such is the life of a track day car. For the road, day to day, commute, school bus, or a fun, but responsible drive through the hills, I’ll take a 997 GTS, and I’ll drive mine in the GTS4 variant: it’s simply the better 911.

  • Peter

    The main reason why the manual is disappearing is due to emissions regualtions. With double-clutch and full auto trannys, the emissions output can be precisely limited because of that rapid-fire shifting (under EPA, TUV and other regulatory body homologation test sessions). The dwell time of manual clutch application, being in neutral, and (especially) application of throttle, all contribute to an increased amount of un-burnt hydrocarbons. Granted it’s in the parts-per-millions amount, but these guys count ‘em. The double-clutch trannys reduce that dwell time to milliseconds and therefore less un-burnt HC gets by.
    So in that case, long live the old cars with their proper manual transmissions.