Recently I was reminded by people on the internet and even in my day to day endeavors that the new dual-clutch gearboxes shift so quickly, that there is absolutely zero reason for anyone to drive a manual transmission.
“When you realize that these new generation transmissions shift faster than any human being can, you'll realize how stupid you sound for wanting a 'stick'.”
That was the verbatim quote from another user on this website. And I will readily admit that yes, some of these new semi-auto’s shift lightening quick, so quick that I couldn’t hope to replicate the shift times with my “stick”. I’ve sheepishly held onto the manual transmission; mind you I’m no old guard, I’m in my 20s, I learned how to drive a manual transmission out of sheer curiosity, interest in automobiles, and the fact that I had a cool girlfriend at the time who preferred sitting in the car rather than driving her ’96 5-speed Camry when I was in High School. In fact, my first automobile was an automatic! I guess you could call me a convert, save for the fact that I never wanted an automatic. I always knew that I wanted to row my own gears; I always knew that I was more interested in the drive rather than the destination, and I always understood that driving is an art form.
I don’t have anything against automatics; in fact, I think they’re great inventions. People just are not coordinated enough to drive, eat a hamburger, talk on their cell phone, change the radio, input an address in their gps, and iron their pants to be concerned with having to use a clutch pedal and a gear lever. I don’t mean to be pandering, I mean it when I say that driving is too hard. Not the basic core of getting from point A to point B, no that’s rather simple; but trying to get to point B while managing your taxes and checking your Facebook account, now that should require its own separate license.
“You’ve been approved for driving and Facebook sir! No, no, sorry twitter is a separate licensing test, research has shown that hashtags require that extra bit of concentration and not every License D+F holder can handle it, you need a D+F+T license for that and the next availability is next Monday, shall I schedule you?”
I won’t lie to you, I have checked my phone while driving, and I’ve sent a text and routinely make phone calls with my car's bluetooth. I’m not immune to the demands of life, but since I’ve started driving a manual I’ve never felt the urge to check a text or worse: send one. I’ve fallen in love with driving, I don’t view my journey to work as “travel time” but rather “fun time”. I take the curvy back road instead of the straight freeway, I’ve calculated that extra 10 minutes into my commute, I pay the extra gallon of gas every week, I’ve perfected my heel-toe and throttle-blips, I can rev match and even clutch-less shift! I’ve even picked up a new hobby: track days and autocross. I now respect the art of driving, I’ve always enjoyed driving but now I respect it.
And here comes the crux of my argument, why do I want to dampen the art? Why do I want to dull the experience? I’m not Michael Schumacher, I wish I was, but I’m not. Hell I’m not even Rubens Barichello, or a funny car driver, I don’t need lightening quick shift points. Who’re you racing on the highway that you need those split second faster shifts? How does that add to the excitement of the race? I don’t street race and I don’t condone it, but have you driven a Ferrari 355 with the gated shifter? Take your .355 second shift; I’ll keep my 1 second shift and that glorious sound of metal on metal shifting. You preach of technology rendering a row-your-own useless, you say that it is a relic of a time before dual-clutch boxes were so good you could “focus on driving” (another quote, from another individual telling me I was wrong). I’d argue that a DSG or PDK or whatever allows you to focus not more on driving, but rather Facebook, and Twitter and whatever else you were just staring at on your phone BEFORE you were in the car. The dual-clutch is a crutch that people can now fall back on, at least back in the day you had to admit you couldn't drive a stick when you bought a Porsche 911 Turbo and you had a shameful moment, now you just tell everyone that the PDK is faster making the stick a non-issue. No shame, no blame. So now you can drive your Porsche, drink your latte and check Facebook without any guilt…so I guess that’s somewhat of an improvement…
I know this isn’t going to convince you to trade your car in and buying one with a stick, and lord knows that manufacturers make it so much tougher by not offering many manual transmissions to begin with. Doesn't matter, you've already done the damage: the manual is dying. Even the great supercars don’t have manuals anymore, are you happy? You’ve curtailed my buying choices for new cars to about 7 and now I spend all day scouring used car sites looking for that perfect S4 Avant with the six-speed and that Gallardo with an open gate that isn’t 10 years old (hint: there might be one for sale in all of the USA).
Thanks. I guess.