What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?
Illustration for article titled Ode to the six speed sequential robotized manual transmission

Everyone loves manuals.

Some people love DCTs.

Most people hate single clutch sequential robotized transmissions. These transmissions are going extinct. And that's why I love them.


None of us want the good old fashioned stick to go away. The good news is that it's not extinct yet and hopefully it never will be fully extinct. There should/could always be a market for certain cars to come with a stick.

But the 6 speed sequential paddle shift tranny will be extinct in production cars soon. It will only live on in racing applications. It's use in production cars will end up being a footnote in automotive history as DCTs are much smoother and more refined.


The quirkiness of single clutch sequential transmissions is what makes them endearing to me. They're basically modded versions of the 6MT offered in the same car. They're usually terrible when used in automatic mode. And they can scare passengers when you dial the settings up to make the shifts as quick (and violent) as possible and rip the upshift paddle at WOT.

Every one of these transmissions, from BMW's SMG to Lambo's E-Gear have received bad press. "Good on track, bad on the street" is the usual critique. The only such transmission I've experienced that was actually smooth in automatic mode was a late iteration of Ferrari's F1 (in the 612 Scaglietti). All of the other ones I've driven or read about/watched reviews of were somewhat to very jerky in automatic mode. Which requires the driver to have experience driving a stick so that he/she can pull the paddles at the right time and modulate the throttle for smooth driving around town.


Some of these transmissions are downright scary in automatic mode because they upshift too soon from 2nd to 3rd and can leave you with no torque in the middle of an intersection if the car's engine is peaky. Some are confusing to operate because getting into neutral and reverse is the opposite of intuitive. And some are expensive to own because they weren't made in big numbers and the parts are therefore expensive. By all accounts these transmissions are bad for daily driving and should only be used by experienced racing drivers who are good enough to benefit from quicker shifts. Anyone [who doesn't have a disability that makes operating a clutch pedal impossible] who bought a car with a robotized 6 speed is crazy. These people should have just got the stick version (if it was available, some cars like the LFA were paddle shift only).

I salute the crazy people. Quirky cars and quirky car technology are fun. Not everything has to be logical and sane all the time. If car purchases were always about logic then sports cars wouldn't exist and we'd all be driving whichever economy sedan/wagon had the best price and IIHS crash rating at the time of our purchase.

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