By on May 1, 2012

According to Edmunds, 6.5 percent of new vehicles sold had a manual transmission, more than double that of 5 years ago. What’s next? The return of diesels? Wagons?

The USA Today article (which cites Edmunds data) notes that fuel economy is no longer a driving factor in the adoption of manuals. Instead, the cheaper prices, fun factor and ease of operation (relative to older manual transmissions, thanks to more user-friendly clutches and hill-hold systems) are spurring consumers to go for manual gearboxes. Of course, we still haven’t reached the 2002 industry high of 8.5 percent.

Ford notes that 10 percent of Focus sales are manual transmission cars, while Dodge expects 20 percent of their Dart compact sedans to come with three pedals rather than two. Ford claims that 25 percent of Focus buyers have an income over $100,000 – and that they are more likely to have traveled overseas, rented a stick shift car, and liked it enough to buy one for themselves.

Manual transmissions, aside from being fun, have also been touted as a way to keep kids from texting behind the wheel – a noble idea, but one that can easily be worked around. Not that I’d know first hand or anything…

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69 Comments on “Manual Transmissions Slightly More Popular...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    On some vehicles, sticks are limited to the base trim levels. A case in point is the Mazda CX-5. It’s a nice vehicle but I’d like both a stick and a sunroof and you can’t get that combo.

    Considering Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” marketing, you’d think offering a stick on a wider range of models (and with the AWD, also not currently an option) would fit the image they want to project.

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredotto

      Yes. This is very frustrating. I’ve long adored Mazdas, and wring my Miata out every chance I get. We considered buying a new Mazda5 to serve as the new family truckster. Took it for a test drive, loved the handling and the utility. But you can only get a stick on the base model.

      I even went so far as to email Mazda USA’s vice president of operations about the issue. To his credit, he is clearly a car guy and was kind enough to write back. He insisted that the sales numbers just aren’t there. It is their business and they do have to make a profit. I do have to wonder, though, how much more it *really* costs. To be sure, limiting options scope means that there are production line efficiencies to be gained, but are the savings really worthwhile if they come at the expense of their most ardent fans’ goodwill?

      Anyway. Long story short, fandom only goes so far and if Mazda isn’t going to offer the car we want, we don’t have to buy it. We ordered a new VW Jetta Sportwagen with the TDI mill and a six speed.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Fortunately, it looks like the manual is more readily available in most trims in the 3 however.

        I suspect it’s due to it being more of a driver’s car than the 5 or the CX-5, even though it CAN handle quite well for a CUV, but it’s the target market for these 2 models that may WELL play a role here.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I will take a stab at this and make a SWAG that’s as good as anyone else’s SWAG (IMO – obligatory IMO) as to why the manual transmission equipped vehicle is ebbing up as a % of new vehicle sales:

        1) Price. In the new normal, wages are not only declining in real terms (i.e. as measured against inflation), but they’re actually, on a net-net bssis, declining in nominal terms (coupled with fewer 401(k)/pension plans, fewer company provided benefits, etc.). Manual transmission equipped vehicles are often the lowest priced models of particular makes/models on dealer lots, and they also happen to obtain the highest real world fuel economy (not to mention that no automatic transmission is as good as even a modest veteran of the stick at picking shift points).

        As a bonus, buying a manual transmission over a slushbox is only going to increase the statistical reliability of that particular vehicle by a relatively hefty margin over the long term, as I’d take another SWAG that probably 10% to 15% of all mechanical problems that rise to a level that make a vehicle inoperable (hence requiring a major repair) relate to an automatic transmission.

        There is no getting around the fact that manual transmissions are more reliable and more efficient than their algorithm-dependent ‘fuzzy logic’ cousins, and in most vehicles, they’re bring the purchase price down, as well.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        DeadWeight, I agree that price is driving more people to manuals; however, 6% of new car purchases is hardly “popular.” A few percentage points could be more noise than trend.

        But I think you’d lose the bet about reliability. Most people can’t drive a clutch well enough for it to last longer than an auto. Of all my acquaintances who have car problems with recent cars, I can’t recall any of them having issues with their transmissions. (As for myself, the only problem I’ve had with an auto has been a failed sensor.)

      • 0 avatar
        ihatetrees

        @ DeadWeight:
        You have a point about slushboxes, in general, being less reliable than a stick. However, I think that’s skewed (based on anecdotes from motor-head pals) toward today’s high horsepower, front drive V6′s. These hi-complexity do have self destruct tendencies before 75K…

        For the compact driver with a ~150hp I4, I bet there’s little to no difference. The non-abused econobox slushbox may even have a lower lifetime TCO over a stick, given standard clutch lifetimes.

    • 0 avatar
      Rental Man

      When you lease a car and add aftermarket equipment you loose out. If not…

      Find the car you want and add a GOOD aftermarket Sunroof. You may even get a lifetime warranty. We had a 2003 car and when recently sold it still worked, had zero leaks, very little wind noise and it closed itself when you turned the car off.

      When you want to add Leather and even heated seats you can customize colors and you might get real leather and not the fake stuff most cars get.

      I do wish that AWD could be added to Stick… Other options could be added without breaking the bank and for some it allows skipping option PKG like Sound systems or Sunroofs (tall people / long torso issue) and still getting what they need. (Leather on 8 pass Sienna)

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      My 03 Tribute DX with a manual transmission fits the base trim level description, although it came with tinted rear windows, roof rack and alloy wheels – all of which were extras on its corporate sibling, the Escape.

    • 0 avatar

      My driving lessons were on stick, my 4 first cars were stick, however, these days, I live in NYC and stick is not a good idea for me for some reasons, one is traffic, I’m not a fan of clutch 1st, clutch 2nd, second, I park my car (2011 Mazda3 hutch) in a valet parking (Manhattan)5 days a week, not a good idea with various park attendants.
      To be honest, when I got my first Mazda3 back in 2006, I remember going thru the parking lot at the dealer to choose a car, it was a little shocking to see so many cars with a stick, I was sure America is the AT nation, probably not.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I’ve always wondered why automakers charge less for stick and auto. Seems like the low take rate would make it more expensive to amortize the development of stick shifts vs autos. Also, why keep the stick shift only on low end models? Stick drivers are hardcore and unlikely to flip to automatics, so why not soak them a little?

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      over here its the other way around

      dealers keep a base stick shift model in the back and then soak everyone for $2,000 for the automatic model which most people want

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      You’ll see that sometimes. The Pontiac G8 was only available with a stick on the top-trim model, and I believe the Dodge Challenger is the same way, if I remember correctly.

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        Infiniti G Stick comes only with in G37. No G25. And you get a loaded sport version. BMW lets you build a loaded Stick or keep it basic.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        In 2009 GM was going to make the manual an offering on the middle GT model, but didn’t have the $$$ anymore for EPA certification so it was dropped. The plan for 2010 if the car had ever seen the light of day was the 256HP 3.6L V6 would be dropped in favor of the same engine in the Camaro on the base, the Aussie derived L76 (a Frankenmotor with an LS2 block, LS3 intake manifold and throttle body and L92 heads) would get a bump in horsepower, and the GXP would get the same HP rating as the Camaro SS. The G8 ST (El Camino) would also be here, and a manual option would be available across the entire line up.

        *sigh*

      • 0 avatar
        ptschett

        Challenger also used to have the manual as the extra-cost option over the automatic, the 6-speed was a $995 option on my 2010 R/T. I looked at the 2012 build-and-price website and they’ve changed it so the automatic is the $995 cost adder now.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      “Also, why keep the stick shift only on low end models?”

      Yes this is the most frustrating part of buying a new car. What does my transmission preference have to do with me wanting a moonroof or nav, or anything else?

      Seeing that 6-speed stick and nav system in the same picture in Autoblog’s Dart review warmed my heart.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      “I’ve always wondered why automakers charge less for stick and auto.”

      Manual transmissions have been around since dinosaurs ruled the earth. They don’t require coolers, filters, pumps, or computers, and are nearly always cheaper to build (except for a few specialty high-horsepower applications).

      Most stick drivers aren’t so hardcore as to settle for a stripped car to get one. I like a MT, but have switched back and forth over the years.

      There is no need to soak customers when pricing the MT at the low end means you can advertise a low starting price for the vehicle, knowing that 95% of them will opt for the higher-end, higher-margin product anyway.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I thought the number would be higher on the Focus.

    After driving a Powershift-equipped Ford, I would for sure go with the manual.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      A lot of Focus owners have complained about the auto transmission, but even that doesn’t change the fact that hardly anyone in this country doens’t want an auto. My guess is that of the 6% who by manuals, only a third (2%) do it because they actually want it, and the remainder (4%) do it to save money.

  • avatar
    nikita

    The overall mix of new car sales has probably downsized to more B/C-segment cars that actually offer a manual transmission choice. Prior to carmageddon, big cars and SUV’s ruled the sales charts and M/T was not even available. These are still single digits, so not really that significant.

    As far as gas mileage, the EPA test cycle can be “gamed” by programming of a modern automatic. Can anyone here explain how M/T shift points are determined for the EPA cycle? In the real world, I get far higher mileage with my M/T Honda Fit than the sticker, and many of those with the automatic complain that they get less.

    • 0 avatar
      Jesse

      I’m not sure about all cars, but I remember reading a while back that the reason cars had “shift-up lights” was because EPA testers had to shift at that point, which is unnaturally low.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      In the 1970s when EPA first started screwing things up, manual shift points were taken from the manufacturer’s recommendations.

      Human nature being what it is, manufacturers immediately recommended the most efficient shift points for each model, whereupon EPA said nobody actually drives like that and picked their own set of shift points which they claimed reflected the average mid 70s vehicle, whatever that is, rounded to the nearest 5 mph.

      Which are 1-2 @ 15 mph, 2-3 @ 25, 3-4 @ 40, and for any additional gears which didn’t exist at that time, another 5 mph per gear so 4-5@ 45, 5-6 @ 50, etc.

      Applied to a 2012 vehicle that means running the entire coasting test at upwards of 2000, often closer to 3000 rpm. Awful scores ensue.

      So awful that reasonably powered (read: pony cars) would be slapped with the gas guzzler tax. So manufacturers found a loophole with the 1-4 shift lockout feature, which lets them shift directly to 4th at 15 mph and keep the revs at a more reasonable level through the test.

      Our federal idiot savants at their very best.

  • avatar
    raph

    Nice, always good to see the M/T hanging on. IIRC at one time 50% of all Mustangs sold came equipped with an M/T, with the availability of a 6 spd A/T though, I wonder if that has changed with the drag racing crowd since the A6 cars tend to be as fast as the manual cars and significantly faster in comparison when manual trans cars are driven by the average driver.

    And I wonder what the ultimate fate of the M/T will be when robotic manuals become more widespread?

  • avatar
    Juniper

    This is great, I hope it keeps going. I’ve always had a stick in the driveway. The “family car” has always been automatic but my commuter car has always been a M/T. I hope this expands the selection. I will be due in a couple of years.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    When I went looking for a used car to replace my dying Ranger back in January, most of what I found on dealer lots in the 2003-2009 time frame were pretty much all automatics, including my Mazda Protege5, thankfully it’s the sport stick instead of a straight autobox.

    The only manuals I saw used were a 2008 Mazda5 and a same year strippo Aveo with not even AC (the Mazda was nicely equipped though), the rest, including an ’09 Rio5 were all automatics.

    Nice to know that the manual is slowly gaining some ground these days for if I had my druthers, I’d still be driving a manual right now,, oh well, at least the sport stick auto I have now gives me most of that, sans the third pedal.

    Also, just spotted the Newsline in USA Today that they mention that more people are opting for a manual, haven’t read the article as I’m about to deliver my 2 copies to my building here at work.

    A brief look reveals it is also quoting from Edmonds as well.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always been able to get better fuel economy in a stick than an automatic. I always felt the slush boxes were finely tuned machines deigned to pass an EPA test, not be driven on the open road.

    And totally agree on the base model stigma of the stick shift. People who want sticks don’t want them to save a few hundred bucks at the point of sale, they want them becuase they are, for lack fo a better word, sporting drivers. The minute an autl maker figures out that they’d sell more sticks with the upscale motor than with the base motor, a lot of money will be made.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      That means you have been driving low end cars. Automatics are better when there are more hp and gears to work with.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        As long as I have any discretionary income, I will spend it on driving enjoyment rather than fuel economy. That means I won’t accept an automatic in my primary driver, even if the rest of the cars I drive are automatics due to lack of MT availability or being shared with someone that doesn’t want to drive a manual.

        The 2012 A6 with 8 speed automatic CAN get good mileage on the highway when traffic cooperates, but most of the time it is just a heavy, thirsty car with a forced induction engine that is as much fun to listen to as a Trane Heat Pump. Quiet, but completely industrial and tuneless. When my business partner drives it, he always has the transmission in sport mode, which does nothing for fuel economy and feels unacceptably jerky to me. When I drive it, I have it in normal drive mode, which is smooth but lethargic and leads to big throttle inputs that do nothing for fuel economy. Needs a 6 speed manual and a naturally aspirated engine, but that’s life.

      • 0 avatar
        Sundowner

        er, no it doesn’t. I’ve got three recent Audis in the family and my v6 tacoma that would say different. they’re all manual. I suggest a remedial driving course for you to improve your manual transmission driving style.

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    In unrelated news, reports of auto thefts in the United States have dropped slightly.

  • avatar
    Toucan

    Isn’t the tiny bump in M/T market share offsetting the higher car prices (in relation to purchasing power)? M/Ts on lowest trims fit this image – they are there to keep the entry point low.

    In Europe, where cars are generally much more expensive, the M/T is popular for the very same reasons. It’s not that this is the continent of driving enthusiasts.

    With more and more sensory input fed into the A/T shifting logic, same or more number of ratios, more aggressive torque converter lockup strategies, widely available paddle override and the rise of the double clutch empire, M/T becomes sort of unnecessary.

    Most drives are mindless commuting in numb cars through endless suburbs, from A to B. Does it make them any better to shift on one’s own? We are not talking a lovely tight roadster, with the top down, a high revving gas engine, a bolt action M/T clawing some mountain hairpins.

    Everyone I know never wanted to go back after swapping a M/T for a modern autobox.

    • 0 avatar
      MR2turbo4evr

      “Most drives are mindless commuting in numb cars through endless suburbs, from A to B. Does it make them any better to shift on one’s own? ……”

      Yes. One of my cars is a ’90′s Corolla with a manual transmission. It’s a “boring” boring, but I like driving it because it’s got a nice gear box and clutch. I certainly wouldn’t have any fun driving it if had an automatic transmission.

      On the other hand, some cars are so terrible to drive with a manual transmission (Chevy Aveo – horrible trans, horrible clutch, terrible rev hang, etc, etc.) that it makes sense to go with the auto.

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        @ MR2turbo4evr “some cars are so terrible to drive with a manual transmission” Most SUV’s fall there and that is why they are nearly all gone. Especially with 4WD. Last few years, Jeep has some, Hyundai has/had Sante Fe & Subaru’s. The others SUV’s with stick are 2WD. Another thing the stick lacks on SUV’s other then fun is the “gift” of reduced Towing rates.

  • avatar
    wsn

    I don’t understand the complaint about sunroof. If you love driving, you would pick standard transmission with no sunroof, because a sunroof adds weight and reduces rigity. If you love comfort, you choose auto and sunroof. If I were to operate a car business, I wouldn’t provide a special standard+sunroof trim just for the 5 odd balls in NA either.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Why can’t you love driving and love sunroofs. Last time I checked local, state, and federal roads weren’t racing circuits.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      I love sunroofs. I’ve never felt a loss of “rigidity” in a sunroof car VS a non-sunroof. Nor have I felt the additional weight. I think this is just another one of those internet car guy macho things. Sort of like saying a live rear axle sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Your opinion makes sense only to yourself. :| Not everyone who enjoys driving a manual is looking exclusively for a track car.

  • avatar
    Banger

    As a card-carrying member of Manual Transmission Preservation Society (no seriously, look us up on the Facebooks,) I heartily approve of this news.

    We at MTPS have always advocated for the inclusion of a M/T option on any trim designation of a given automobile.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I have a 6 speed manual. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, I know that I’m not a “driver” (whatever the smell that is), but I like being able to get in a car and drive it without going into a panic. I’ve actually considered pricing aftermarket sunroofs to put in my car. That one addition would make my car pert-near perfect, oh and less of a throttle delay.

    I bought one because I wanted to learn. I’m in the process of trying to learn some of the other things that a manual can do, but it’s a slow process.

  • avatar
    th009

    A small total — but a 30% increase is significant.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I think Nikita nailed it, the mix has changed to people buying smaller cars that actually offer a stick. Plus, a stick is a reasonable luxury. Save money by dropping down from a higher end car to something sporty, and use a little of the fuel savings to have fun driving.

    Good news for car guys – more sticks available on the used market soon as many people change their minds.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I’ve noticed that many interior designs almost preclude the fitting of a manual transmission.

    The “poodle dog” interior designers have begun replacing the handbrake with two super-gulp cup holders.

    In short, interior design is migrating to the point that will only allow for an automatic transmission.

  • avatar
    deliverator

    On the weekend we had a meeting of the local car club, and a guy who’s a parts man at a local dealership explained some things to me about manual-transmission equipped cars.

    Basically he said that they hate selling them. People usually buy them for that $1000 savings, and don’t know how to drive them properly. Thus 7 out of 10 come back well within warranty for a new clutch, or worse. And, the clutch isn’t covered by warranty (wear item). So what happens is the guy bitches in public at the dealer and most of the time the dealer eats the repair, to shut the guy up. Incidentally, this is exactly what happened with my Civic Si right before I got it (accordig to the service manager there).

    People ride the clutch, pop the clutch, drive jerkily, and everyone wants to feel like a racing guy and ends up destryoing things inside there because they are ignorant abot what is actually going on inside the trans and clutch, with the synchros and stuff. You see lurching and all sorts of bad driving. I think people have just lost the ability to do it. Oh, another thing is when you don’t have the clutch all the way in before moveing the gear shifter. Since then, I’ve been consciously making sure that I do exactly that for every shift when I’m driving. Eventually it will become second nature to me but yes I’m guilty of poor clutching before that.

    Example: new Genesis coupe with 480 km’s on it, in for a clutch replacement. He said it was a tester for another dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Funny! Took a test drive with an older lady who ONLY drives stick shifts. She was terrible at it! At one point she shifted into neutral – on the highway – and asked what gear she was in! LOL. I was helping a co-worker practice his stick shift skills, and he was doing fine, until I mentioned the name of the girl he likes. Then he totally forgot how to drive!

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      I bet most of the people who proclaim they love manual transmissions, don’t have a clue how to drive a stick shift properly and have no idea how a synchromesh transmission works. If you knew how the manual transmission work, you would be double clutching every time. I do that. and I have done that since age 15. I can’t stop doing it because my mechanical sympathy will not allow me to. Just like a lot of motorcyclist shifting with the clutch lever and banging gears- these people would really be better off with an automatic.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Are you saying you DC for upshifts too? I finally managed to teach myself to DC and do it for most of my downshifts, unless I go the lazy way and just do an easier rev-match without the DC.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        Where I’m from, most manual transmissions outlast the car’s body regardless of how they’re shifted. While I enjoy double-clutching more than most – and learned to no-clutch my Jetta for the fun of it – there’s no need to get condescending towards people who let the synchros do their job, especially if they’re not living their lives a quarter mile at a time. This post really doesn’t make it sound like you’d be much fun at parties.

        This is the first time I’ve heard that shifting with the clutch on a bike is bad for it. Can clutchless shifting be fine when done correctly? Absolutely. But muck it up and you’ll mess up your dogs and shift fork pretty easily.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        What’s wrong with a properly executed rev-match downshift?

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        When down shifting, I double clutch with a blip of the gas in between.

        When up shifting, I declutch going from 4th to 5th. I tend to wind out the engine in 4th, and the mismatch between engine speed and drive shaft speed is too great for a single cone synchro to shift smoothly. (I *think* it’s single cone going from 4 to 5 on my 5 spd Mazda3)

        For upshifting in other gears, I just shift, letting the double cone (I think) synchros do their job.

        Incidentally, I’ve read sports cars like the MazdaSpeed3 and the S2000 have triple cones on some gears.

        Nice job from Ford and Dodge in bumping up the take rate for M/T. Some credit goes to MINI I’d say, which has at 34% M/T take rate.

        http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2011/09/mini-keeping-manuals-alive-with-34-take-rate.html

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Having learned to drive on pre-WWII ranch trucks that had a totally unsynchronized transmission, I’m quite familiar with how a transmission works and the concept of double clutching, up and down the gears.

        That said, on a modern car, double clutching on an upshift is a total affectation, the only effect of which is to increase wear on the clutch throw-out bearing and the hydraulic linkage (since just about nobody has mechanically-linked clutches any more). These are known failure points at any clutch and may, indeed, fail before the friction material wears out on a properly driven car. If you have a tranny that’s a little balky on the upshift (the 1-2 shift often is), consider shifting a little more deliberately (i.e. being sure the next gear is engaged before releasing the clutch), wait for your tranny to warm up a bit (my BMW is a little stiff when cold) or replace your gear lube.

        Double-clutching on downshifts I heartily endorse. And with even a barely functional syncro, close enough is good enough, unlike with a “crash box,” where you had to be perfect.

        It’s worth noting that well into the 1970s, it was common for first gear to not be synchronized in lots of car transmissions, so a downshift into first gear required a double clutch, unless the vehicle was stopped.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      I guess because my high school had a VW driver training car (in 1968) and Ive owned several rear-engined VW’s, the Honda Fit shifts so smooth its like a dream. Heavy traffic in LA is not even that bad. I do have a VW Thing modified with a HD bus transaxle and It is quite a challenge to drive smoothly.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I had read that 55% of Cruze Ecos being ordered by dealers are with manuals, and the Eco makes up about 1/4 of all Cruze sales. (link below)

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/reviews/healey/2011-05-26-chevrolet-cruze-eco-test-drive_n.htm

  • avatar
    Dan

    Sticks are effectively non existent outside of shitboxes and ponycars.

    Pony car revival + $4 gas and shitbox economy = more sticks sold.

    Imagine that.

  • avatar
    4-off-the-floor

    And the stick shift in the pic is from the Mazda Protege….my daily driver!

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      I thought it looked very familiar, though I suspect it’s from a ’99-2001 MY though.

      My ’03 P5 has the brushed silver accents around the shifter/cup holders and a raised cup holder area in the same location. The ashtray and cig lighter are identical though but the shifter handle is nearly identical, though mine is covered in two tone leather and is the sport stick autobox.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I like manuals but this So Fla traffic is so damned busy and slow and there seems to be either a stop or a red light at every damn intersection and more going up every day.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Are people seriously saying that a modern manual can’t take the abuse of a beginner driver? We’ve all been there; the first couple weeks to months are terribly jerky, and not at all smooth, but then it levels off to a “bad day” once in a while where you have a hard shift or ride the clutch a little bit because of timing being slightly off.

    If the transmission can’t handle that, there’s something majorly wrong and it’s not the driver.

    Now, if you’re talking about cars that are driven by people who are completely oblivious and don’t bother trying to adjust their patterns that’s a whole other story.

  • avatar
    msquare

    I’ve gotten 200,000 miles out of clutches, so it often amazes me how people can go through them.

    I think understanding how they work has a lot to do with how you use them. Also, I’ve had two Mk1 MR2′s, a Miata and a 1998 BMW 328is with manuals, and only the BMW had a significant amount of torque.

    Sure, they’re a pain in traffic. They also let you get the most out of any engine you hook them up to and use less gas in the process.

    I now have a 2001 BMW 325Ci with the 5-speed Steptronic automatic. Good transmission for what it is, but I miss the manuals.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    While I’m aware that there are people with $100,000+ income that don’t want anything fancy, or are still concerned with saving gas, I have a hard time believing they make up that much of the Focus’ sales. That whole statement seems sort of convoluted.

    On the plus side, is it nice to see people buying more sticks. I plan on my next car(s) being stick, and with more people buying them now that will hopefully mean a decent variety in the used car market later.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I’m surprised at those Focus numbers. I had a hard time finding one on a dealer lot with a stick to test drive when I was looking at them. I love my BMW being a stick. I drove out of town to find one that wasn’t an automatic and have no regrets, even though I do a good amount of driving in traffic. And oh yeah, texting while driving stick is no problem at all, even on a text unfriendly iPhone in a text unfriendly Griffin case.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The high percentage of Focus sticks might be due to a huge number of automatic buyers going somewhere else after driving Ford’s train wreck of a dual clutch automatic.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I have always preferred th M/T in snow and other Bad weather settings. Plus I live in a major metro area so the hand shaker removed the need to lock the doors. Car theft drops to nil.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      How hopeless must one feel looking in the mirror; if not only do one see some lowlife car thief, but one too incompetent to operate a stick shift to boot.

  • avatar
    volt4obama

    I prefer cooking from scratch versus eating pop-tarts.

    Anyone who does not know how to drive a stick, and calls themselves a gearhead, is actually a poser.

  • avatar
    AJ

    Manuals are great for sports cars and big trucks… having had both. Currently I have one manual, which certainly makes a Civic Coupe a fun car to drive. Rather zippy! However my Jeep (mostly for off-road use) is otherwise an auto. No one wants to play with a clutch while on the rocks.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Big trucks is actually one area where autos really shine. For long haul, automated clutch transmissions keep fuel burn down by diligently sticking to the most efficient rpm range; while for construction site type use with heavy loads, torque converters are preferable for the same reasons you prefer them on your Jeep.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    There’s a superb writeup about how modern manual transmission works. It’s at http://www.howstuffworks.com/transmission.htm This is nearly the only place on the internet that Flash ™ is useful.

    Oh, and I just have to mention that I was once the proud owner of a totally USA-spec Mercedes 300E with a stick. The original owner paid thousands extra for it. I let it sit on a Lexus dealer’s lot for over a month before graciously relieving them of it. And forget the “3 pedal” label; the W124 bodies have a pedal for the parking break, so this was a “4 pedal” affair.

  • avatar
    piro

    I drive a diesel wagon with a manual transmission.

    Not rare at all..

    .. in the UK.


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