Why do car guys prefer manual?
Manual Vs. Automatic Transmission: Which Is Better?
What’s going on everyone? Today, we’ll be talking about manuals versus automatics for your car’s transmission — this is an endless debate and it seems to be the source of solid memes, with your typical fans on both sides of the aisle, just like Console vs. PC, Coke vs. Pepsi, etc.
You’ll hear it the loudest from manual drivers, saying that stickshift cars are more fun to drive, better for handling, and all else you might’ve heard. But are manuals truly better, and is a manual worth it over an automatic when you’re looking at buying a car?
At first, we car guys must know the answer to this — of course, manuals are the path of the chosen one, and automatics are for babies. But then we started thinking about automatics and how far they’ve actually come, especially in recent years, and it’s obvious that this is a topic worth talking about. So, let’s talk about it!
Table Of Contents:
Defining Manual and Automatic Car Transmissions
First, let’s define what we mean by «manual,» and also what we mean by «automatic,» because technology over the last 20 years has honestly blurred the lines between the two quite a bit.
To us, a manual has to have a clutch — that’s the third pedal that you see in all those cringey T-shirts, memes, and stickers that say «Real men use three pedals.» So, a manual has three pedals. An automatic doesn’t have a third pedal, just two. But this is where things get weird — we have crazy gearboxes now where you can click through the gears using fancy, sometimes even carbon-fiber levers behind the steering wheel. Top Gear famously calls these «flappy paddle gearboxes,» which is terminology that we love. For the sake of today, though, flappy paddles are still automatics. No third pedal means an automatic.
Why Drive With a Manual Gearbox?
So, why in the world would you want a manual gearbox anyways? Aren’t we advanced enough to have gears selected for us in a day and age where we can have someone do our shopping for us with the push of a button?
Well, the reason that car purists fall back to manuals is the fact that you really feel more connected to the car with a manual. Man and machine become one with a manual gearbox — are you the car, or is the car you? Nobody really knows at that point — what we do know is that a manual makes you feel more involved in the driving experience. You’re controlling when to shift, and you’ve got a full-body workout with your arms and legs, pulling and pushing and getting everything timed just right. It’s just a lot of fun.
With this control also comes great responsibility, though, because you can absolutely money shift when using a stick. An example of a money shift, if you’re unaware, is usually when you’re going from second to third gear and you actually put it from second into first. We call that a no-boy-no move because you can jack your drivetrain badly if you drive a manual wrong.
Performance Advantages With Manual Transmission
Also with total control, you have a ton of performance advantages as well, like when you’re drifting — you should absolutely have a manual to do that best. When doing any sort of racing as well, having the control of the car and the ability to really stay within the power band and feather the club when needed can be a huge advantage. Also, it’s just stupid fun when you’re on the track and you have that control and you’re involved with the car in that way.
Advantages Of Driving With An Automatic Transmission
Let’s jump over to automatics now. Why in the world would you want one? After all, we just went through all the cool stuff with a manual, and frankly, CVT transmissions, in particular, are just bad. They can be trash and not as fun for an enthusiast — looking at you, Nissan. We love you, but they’re horrible.
Automatic transmissions can be great though, especially for applications like drag racing. There are guys out there running insane quarter-mile times that are only possible with the lightning-quick shifting of an automatic. A human just can’t be that quick, plain and simple — unless you’re the Flash, there’s no argument.
Also, in our classification of automatic transmissions, flappy paddle gearboxes can be really fun if they’re done right. On the Nissan GT-R, for example, automatic driving feels just like a big Maxima — easy to drive, comfortable, and perfect to just turn your brain off and enjoy. Clicking through the gears in manual mode is also fun because you’re immediately going fast with absolutely no effort. That same principle can apply to the track as well as the street, as you can get those lap times down and prevent any awful money shifts or missed shifts that we talked about with manuals. There’s not really any margin for error with flappy paddle gearboxes.
Are There Any New Cars That Are Available With True Manual Transmissions?
What about the cars, though? Not all of them come in both, so you don’t have the option of choosing between a manual or an automatic, which is kind of dumb. Some cars are only available in either automatic or manual, like the new Supra — that was a big deal, and the fact that it didn’t debut in a manual was honestly crazy to some people; these are the kinds of things that can cause huge rifts in the car community.
The Type R is available for sale right now in only manual — this might change for the next generation, but it goes to show how people are liking new automatics with the flappy paddle gearboxes — stupid flappy paddle.
Why Are Manual Transmission Cars Becoming So Expensive?
Manual swapping is pretty darn common, and something a lot of people do to cars that are automatics. The reverse, of course, isn’t so popular without some major technology and a huge bank account. Right now in 2022, manual transmission cars are tending to fetch a higher premium over their automatic counterparts with the same type of car. Let’s look at one example here, in the Lexus IS300 — the factory manual versions are kind of rare, but they’re going for absolutely stupid prices right now compared to their automatic versions.
Let’s also take a look at Mustangs and Z’s, and you see the same trend, with manuals fetching a higher price on the used car market. This is happening because true factory manual cars are becoming much less common, though we’re starting to see a resurgence of manual enthusiast cars, and we love it.
Are Manual Transmissions Worth It Over Automatics?
To answer the question posed in this piece, yes, 100%. A manual is definitely worth it over an automatic, purely thanks to the control you have and how involved you are in the driving process with a manual car. Swapping into a different clutch or changing to a lighter flywheel makes the car feel so much more different, and makes every stop-and-go adventure in traffic that much more fun. You can really change how the car feels with just a few parts and change the driving experience too.
We really enjoy where automatics have come from where they started, but it just isn’t the same. The ability to scream through gears with your foot on the floor is fun, but there’s nothing like dumping the clutch, lighting up the rear tires, and getting the perfect rev match that you did — not a computer.
10 Reasons Why You Should Drive a Manual Car in 2020
I’ve been pretty sad lately and I don’t normally express that emotion. I’ve been watching more and more car manufacturers drop the manual option from their entire lineup. With a dwindling selection, and automatic options that can change gears in milliseconds, why would you want to still own the manual transmission car in 2020 and beyond? Well here are 10 reasons why.
- It’s a lot safer. You’re engaged with the car. You feel connected. You use both your hands and both of your feet to operate the vehicle, not just one of each. There’s a lot less time to pick up your phone or zone-out. It does require practice to get to that point, but once you’re done, you feel like a drummer playing his instrument.
- You have a lot more control over your vehicle. When it’s raining or snowing, you have the option of starting in second. You can ease off the clutch to prevent any unnecessary jerking in those conditions that might cause in a spin out. When you need high revs, you can downshift and keep it in that stage for as long as you like, or until the engine blows. Whatever the case may be, you’re in control of the car, not the computer.
- This should be the number one reason honestly. It’s just a lot more fun to drive. I had an automatic 550i for a very brief period of time. I used to love to drive around before with my other manual transmission cars like the 3000GT. After I bought the 550i, it was used to go back and forth to work. My wife finally told me, “We never just go for a drive anymore. I found you the manual Corvette that you always wanted. Go trade this in and start enjoying cars again.” That same day I got the C6 and drove it enthusiastically every day until I decided to retire it. It’s still in my small collection. I’ve never owned another automatic vehicle since.
- I hope that I’m making you a car guy, or gal, if you’re not already. Number 4 can be split into two sections. I fall under the first category. You won’t feel bored in bumper to bumper traffic. I love the fact that when I’m stuck in traffic I have something to play with. There have been times where I drove 2 to 3 miles on nothing but the clutch. You try to gauge the traffic in front of you, and behind you, to use the clutch without the touching the gas or the break pedals. You practice driving, which is what I think a lot of us don’t do enough. Part 2 falls under people that like manual cars, but hate them in traffic. You’ll be more proactive. You’ll plan your routes around traffic. Either option will bring your stress level way down.
- It’s a lot harder to steal. More and more people don’t know how to drive a manual car. If you google it right now, you’ll find a few articles that state that only 18% of Americans can drive a manual car. I don’t know where they live because I’m surrounded by people that don’t. I know that my dad can drive manual, one of my friends, and my cousin. And that’s it. Maybe the others are just hiding it really well. Who knows? But you would think that those stats would translate to petty criminals that aren’t your professional car jackers, if that even makes sense. Most people will be deterred from even attempting to steal it if they see the transmission type.
- It’s a conversation stater. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when someone new stepped inside the car and didn’t say “you drive a manual. How’s that feel?” Sometimes the conversation would revolve completely around the manual option. I think that most people that don’t drive a manual car secretly wish they did. But it’s a process to learn so quite a few people just don’t. Those that do can feel more important, because they are.
- You’ll have that personal connection. Most non-car people don’t understand the kind of connection that we’re talking about, so I just never even bother explaining it. But I’m going to try now. When you start releasing the clutch, you can feel the exact moment when the clutch catches. Sometimes it’s microseconds of precision. Release for any longer without applying the throttle and you’ll stall the car. Apply too much gas too fast, and you’ll start burning the clutch. My favorite part about driving a manual car that doesn’t have hill assist is when someone’s sitting next to me and I come to a complete stop on a steep hill. I can see them start checking the rear-view mirror automatically trying to gauge how close the car behind us just got. In their heads, the same message is playing over and over again, “He’s gonna roll back and he’s gonna hit that car.” Then the light turns green and they automatically look at the handbrake. “We’re definitely gonna hit that car. He’s not even using the handbrake.” Then, I just drive off and you can feel the tension just being released from their body. Most of the time they’ll say, “I can’t believe you just drove off without rolling back at all.” You smirk and feel great about yourself. What they don’t know is that you feel connected to the car. You know how far you have to release the clutch to catch just enough so that when you release the brake the car doesn’t roll back. You also feel any micro vibrations that shouldn’t be there and you catch problems much earlier on. Even your other senses get heighten. For example, you start to smell any weird odors that might arise. I guess the next closes thing that I can describe it to is a DSLR camera. You can put in automatic and the camera will shoot for you, but it’s only when you put it in manual that you develop a connection to your camera.
- It’s much simpler. I don’t like excessive amounts of technology in my car. It seems that the more technology there is, the higher the chance of something braking is, and the higher the cost will be to fix it. With manual vehicles, you’re in control, not the computer.
- You can drive anything. I know that this isn’t a big deal to most people, but I love knowing the fact that I can drive almost anything. Sure there are a few quirks here and there, but you get adjusted really quickly. I bought a ZX6R bike, never rode a motorcycle in my life, but I understood what you needed to do. I sat on it, released the clutch a couple of times, moved through the gears a couple of times, and rode off. Never once did I think about shifting or it being difficult.
- You just feel great about yourself. After some time passes, you want to learn everything about driving manual. All of a sudden you start attempting to rev-match and you realize that that’s on another level. When you finally train your mind and body to synchronize and be in rhythm, you feel accomplished. For those of you that don’t know what rev-matching is, it’s when you’re trying to reduce gears, go, for example, from 4th to 3rd. You know that at the current speed, in 3rd gear, the RPM will be much higher. So you tap on the accelerator right after you press the clutch to bring it to that rev range, downshift, and release the clutch. The car should not jerk whatsoever and you will be in the correct RPM range. For even more fun, and this does take some skill, you’ll be on the brake, and you’ll shift your right foot to press on both the brake and “bleep” the throttle while downshifting. At one instance, you’re pressing on all 3 pedals, maintaining steering, and shifting, and getting the correct RPM range with each downshift. Now that is a satisfying feeling. You then watch professional drivers and you realize that they’re doing the same thing and you think to yourself, “I’m a professional driver.”
Are you a car guy if you drive an Automatic?
But here in the year of 2016, in the evolving age of technology, we are seeing new technologies every single day.
With that being said, we are seeing a lot more of something called an Automatic transmission.
Since I spoke of the forbidden transmission, the entire CT Facebook community is calling for my execution, and I’ll most likely be shot at dawn…
So for now, while I’m still alive, and awaiting my execution, let me talk about the battle between Automatic and Manual.
One thing that you should know about me, I believe in free choice. I believe that people have the right to choose where they want to go in life, who they want to marry, and I think that everyone is equal, no matter gender, ethnicity, etc.. I also believe that you can have ANY brew you want, despite what Dom says..
I also believe that us car enthusiasts have the choice of what we want to drive. Whether it’s FWD or RWD, coupe or hatchback, Subaru or Nissan, everyone has the choice of what they like and what they want to drive, and I don’t think that they should be criticized for their choice. Sure these differences create rivalry, but I like to believe that we, as a modern society (for the most part) have moved past shaming others for being different than ourselves.
This leads me to the question: “Is a car enthusiast really a car enthusiast if they drive an automatic transmission?”
This question has been up for debate for too long, and I am here on a special peacekeeping mission from the United Nations to end the quarrel so that our communities can live together in unity.
Us as car guys/gals love spirited driving, and its commonly known that an automatic transmission can take away from “spirit” of driving when the car does the shifting for you.
This has been bothering me for while, I drive a manual transmission and love it, but am tired of seeing those that choose automatic be ridiculed by the bullies of the car enthusiast world.
So automatic guys, this one’s for you.
What actually is a car enthusiast?
First off, what really is a car enthusiast? First off, what really is a car person? When you hear “car person” you may think numerous things. You also might think, (but I can assure you that they are not), car people aren’t those abominations made by Disney..
No, to me, a car guy/girl is a car enthusiast. Someone that eat, sleeps and breathes cars. Nowhere in the auto bible does it say that “Thee that are worthy shalt drive with three pedals.” So why do we all preach like it matters so much? If I can find another car enthusiast in the whole universe, I immediately drop whatever I’m doing and start chatting about cars, the fact if they drive an auto or manual, is the last thing on my mind.
Let’s face it, technology has come a long way. When I was a little kid, I played with toy cars and building blocks. Now, I see babies in strollers playing Angry Birds on their own iphones. I don’t like it (I’m a little jealous tbh) but hey, that’s the way of the future. Technology has also come a long way in the auto industry as well, in the past, cup holders were considered a “luxury” item in automobiles, but now we see vehicles fitted with the same technology that you might find on the International Space Station.
It’s the same story with the transmissions. When they were first introduced, automatic transmissions were a disaster. Even though they received public praise for the amazing new development, some of the main issues included: Weight, reduced fuel economy, miss-shifting, slower shifting, cost, lack of response, lack of reliability and significantly less strength. Back then there was a reason to hate automatic transmissions, they were just genuinely terrible transmissions. However, over the years, auto makers have smoothened out most of the rough edges of the manual transmission and got rid of most of the faults. One of these being Mazda reducing the weight of the automatics with their Skyactiv systems. Nowadays, it makes more and more sense to drive an automatic. So why do we still hate it?
Face it, some people just don’t want to drive stick.
This one’s obvious, and it all comes down to personal preference. Let’s be honest, some people just do not wish to drive stick shift! There’s a lot of people out there that don’t want to learn, and that’s okay! Where I will always say that driving manual is a useful life skill, it’s totally up to you whether you want to or not. Also, think of all the car enthusiasts that live in hilly areas. I really do appreciate a windy pass through the hills with massive changes of elevation, and tight, complex corners. However, to deal with hilly areas with large amounts of traffic and stop signs is too much for me and my clutch to handle.
It’s kinda nice to drive Auto!
I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes, I just wish that I didn’t have to deal with my super stiff stage 2 six puck race clutch (which is in my daily for some reason). Life is hard, and we all deal with large amounts of stress throughout the day. Sometimes it’s nice to not worry about operating a clutch on your way home from a hard day at work. So all you car guys and gals that just want to chill without stressin’ about a clutch, you’re alright in my book.
All in all, I think this automatic hate is pretty silly. I love my manual transmission, and always will. However, in my opinion, saying that a fellow enthusiast isn’t a real car guy/girl just because of a choice of transmission is far beyond a stupid that I hope this community can overcome. Sure, the majority of the car community will appreciate the stick shift more, it’s everything we stand for. Spirited driving, control, revving to the redline and choosing to bounce off the limiter just because we feel like it is the life blood of the car community and I don’t think that will ever go away. But the love of cars is something that lives in all car enthusiasts, regardless of the type of transmission we drive.
Because at the end of the day, it’s about the passion, not the transmission.
That’s my time, talk to you guys later.
Bennett Cook (a.k.a Performanceandluxury)
Automotive Student. Automotive Enthusiast.