As one of the new boys on staff, let me tell you a bit about myself. I spent the last three years at 0-60 and RIDES magazines. I’m a New Yorker, which means I’m probably angrier than you. I’m also obsessed with anything on wheels capable of scaring the shit out of me. I constantly buy and sell cars, and every new one is the best I’ve ever had, until I make it ride too rough or blow the motor to pieces.
I think electronic nannies are stupid, even if they make my car faster and safer. I like to shift my own gears and I’m not into hybrids or electric vehicles unless we’re talking about KERS systems. I’m not the only person with this automotive philosophy, and if you’re reading this, I’ll assume you’re one of us.
Dual-clutch transmissions are faster, simple as that, and while they can be fun for a bit, they get old quickly. And do you know what else? They let everyone shift precisely and swiftly, and they match revs when you select a lower gear. But surely those are things any skilled driver should earn. It’s an indescribable feeling, controlling an automobile on the limit while being in charge of every aspect.
Regardless, some people do enjoy two pedals, and that’s fine, but this point is being forced down our throats, like a preaching Vegan telling you Seitan is better than chicken.
So why is this? There are several things to consider. Most dealers have automatics on the lot, ready to sell. You can stroll into a BMW dealership and request a six-speed 335i, but the salesperson will respond with an excellent offer on an auto you can park in your driveway tomorrow. If you want the manual, you’ll have to order it from the factory and wait up to three months.
People are impatient, especially procrastinating Americans who chose to leave themselves two weeks to find a new car after their lease expires. This translates into one thing – more automatics are sold than manuals, making the transmission once referred to as “standard”, now a “special order.”
Secondly, many manufacturers prefer to offer an auto because they can’t be over-revved, you can tailor the shift points, there’s no clutch to be ridden and it gives them more control over their vehicle’s reliability.
The third contributing factor is that a boat load of so-called automotive journalists can’t drive to save their lives. Most of us are idiots with heavy feet and a few days of instructed track time. As a result, most manufacturers equip their test cars with automatics so the talentless industry folk who don’t know how to “drive stick” aren’t embarrassed. And because of these people, although I’m an automatic despiser, it’s the only transmission I can tell you about.
Is there any real conclusion to be made? Not really – I’m just annoyed and helpless, and it’s why I’ll probably be driving a car built before 2006 for eternity. That was the breaking point; up until then, before cars were overweight, packed with a Best Buy’s worth of gadgetry and when driving stick was still fun for most of us.