What is the is the single best part of driving? If you answered shifting gears on your own, with a stick, and a clutch pedal then you'd be right. If you said something like steering then you'd be wrong, because that's not the answer. This is America the land of straight roads and freedom. Unfortunately the days of manual transmissions are as numbered as those filthy communists spies… sorry still on a role with the whole patriotic stuff. The manual is a dying breed and it will be a sad sad day when it's gone forever.
The sad part is that they're disappearing due to logic. Since when has America ever stood for logic, we're a nation of people who like loud guns and cars that are even louder than our guns and… damn-it I really have to stop. I mean I don't even live in Texas, or believe half the things I'm saying. It's like some sort of virus… holy crap guys I think I caught the 'Murica virus. I… I can feel it inside my veins telling me to do all these things. The urge to spew casual racism and be fat has never been stronger, guys, guys help me. I have to go to the hospital before I've lost all sense of reason... Ok sorry, I'm back, and I was right I did have the 'Murca virus but a couple shots of penicillin knocked that bitch out. So I should be back to my old, less obese, politically correct self again. Back to the topic at hand which is me ranting about how manuals are better than automatics.
Automatics are faster, more fuel efficient, and more convenient than manuals, but they'll never give the driver the same connection to the car and the road. In a straight line an auto is faster, but it just doesn't give you that same feeling of driving that a manual does. Anyone can mash the pedal to the floor, but I want to feel like the reason I'm going fast is because I'm good I am at driving. It's comparable to video games and movies, yes they're both just images on a screen, but in one you control the character where as in the other everything is done for you. Just like a movie an automatic will take you along for the ride. Throw on the cruise control, grab some popcorn and a soda then just kick back and relax. A manual is like a video game, you have to participate, and every bite or sip must be timed right in order to not die.
The main argument (on this website at least) for automatics is that they're faster, and because of that they replace the engagement provided by a manual with pure, unadulterated speed and adrenaline. I will not argue with that, I believe that people have fun while they're being pushed back into their seat. That's how amusement parks make money, with roller coasters and spinning rides. It's the same for cars, even a Camry will be invigorating at one hundred twenty plus miles per hour. Unfortunately here in America, the law doesn't take kindly to that kind of speed. Because of that I think that the true home of automatics is on the track. Where you're free to let loose and go for broke around a circuit.
That's the real problem with all these fancy sports cars getting kitted out with automatics. How much of the time you're driving the car will be on a track? For most of us that number is in the single digit percentages, if the car ever even sees a track. The rest of that time will be road time, where you're stuck in traffic, being kept in check by cops, etc. How great does a 2.9 zero to sixty feel when you're only able to do twenty miles an hour. So that's the thing, you're expensive sports car feels like a minivan most of the time. Maybe a minivan with a louder exhaust, but still just a mundane people carrier.
I'm not saying a manual transmission will make your car fun in traffic, or make your minivan into a GT-R. All I'm saying is that it sure wouldn't hurt the experience ninety nine percent of the time you drive it. Plus track days would still be fun, if not more fun with a manual, you may not get the best time of the day. At the end of the day though, you're you and I'm me and the sports cars we drive have four cylinders, not twelve. Chances are neither of us are going to be setting any speed records anyway so does it really matter if the lap is a little slower?
Photo Credits: www.carthrottle.com