By on April 21, 2017

BMW 4 Series

To industry watchers, the manual transmission’s future seems as rosy as that of the Steve Miller Band, circa 1983.

Automakers on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific have pried the stick shift out of an ever-increasing number of vehicles, and some manufacturers have chosen to drop the technology altogether. With market share reaching never-before-seen lows, the three-pedal lifestyle seems headed towards an unavoidable (and imminent) grave.

Blame technology. Blame laziness. Blame yourself.

Over in Munich, the sentiment seems quite similar. BMW has long occupied the ranks of true driver’s cars, but its leaders make no bones about the brand’s eventual abandonment of the row-your-own transmission, even in relatively stick-happy Europe. Lately, even dual-clutch transmissions appear to be in Bimmer’s bad books. And as for an American solution to its manual transmission problem, well, forget that. (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2017

2017 BMW 340i manual shifter – Image: BMW USA

The manual transmission isn’t dead. But it appears to be dying. Now Munich is making sure everybody knows BMW has a hand in the demise of the third pedal.

At the traditional core of BMW’s U.S. lineup, the manual transmission 7 Series disappeared three decades ago. So foreign is a manual shifter to buyers in the full-size luxury limo category, this seems entirely natural.

M models aside, the U.S. market lost BMW 5 Series manual transmission availability after the 2014 model year.

What’s next?

“Across the world, virtually all of our 3 Series models and above already have automatic transmissions,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson tells Car And Driver.

“We will certainly see fewer and fewer manual transmissions being offered,” says Robertson.

Ultimate Driving Machine? (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2017

2017 Mazda CX-5 – Image: Mazda USA

Mazda, heretofore an avid provider of manual transmissions, is killing off the manual transmission in the brand’s most popular product, the CX-5.

CarsDirect’s pricing analysts informed TTAC of the CX-5’s exclusively two-pedal future, having received confirmation from Mazda.

Few consumers were taking Mazda up on the company’s offer of an entry-level CX-5 with a manual transmission, so while the CX-5’s advertised base price shoots up by $2,290 with the loss of the standard shift, the typical transaction price for the typical CX-5 buyer won’t change.

CarsDirect says the CX-5’s manual transmission will continue to be offered north and south of the border. But for American consumers in search of a manual shift crossover, where are they to turn? (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2017

aston martin db4 gt

Who loves stick shifts? Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer loves stick shifts!

In an industry that’s rapidly heading towards autonomous vehicles, “mobility solutions” and other high-tech dreams of a 21st century society, Old World charm is becoming increasingly hard to find. Leave it to a British automaker to take a stand for old technology.

During a speech at the Canadian International Auto Show this morning, Palmer declared his devotion to the antiquated row-your-own transmission, stating that Aston Martin will always keep the three-pedal lifestyle alive. (Read More…)

By on December 27, 2016

6-speed manual transmission

Let’s face it — the manual transmission is on life support, and its relatives have flown in from Atlanta and Houston to crowd around the hospital bed.

Stick shift aficionados can dream all they like about an 11th hour renaissance of the three-pedal setup, but transmissions aren’t vinyl LPs. One day in the near future — no doubt a dystopian landscape where dessert speakeasies doll out sucrose to sugar-taxed denizens of a Bark M.-imagined superstate — we’ll talk of the manual in the same manner as the front bench seat. Hell, rumble seats, for that matter.

Drivers of manual transmission vehicles already find themselves in a shockingly small minority, castaways on an island of technological obsolescence. Edmunds estimates the stick shift take rate at less than 3 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. It’s no wonder, either. Dual-clutch transmissions offer lightning-quick shifting, while continuously variable transmissions boast smoothness and enviable fuel economy gains. Eight, nine and ten-speed automatics fill in the gaps.

For the holdouts, what keeps the row-your-own fires burning? (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Front 3/4

The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel returns in 2017, packing a smaller oil-burning four-cylinder and more torque than the first-generation model, but there’s another major change from its predecessor.

According to GMInsideNews, the next-generation Cruze Diesel will offer both a manual and automatic transmission. Clearly, GM wasn’t lying about its plan to romance former Volkswagen owners. (Read More…)

By on September 22, 2016

2017-audi a4

The dwindling supply of new vehicles offering a row-your-own driving experience spurs fewer tears than before, but the three-pedal setup isn’t dead yet.

In fact, offering a manual transmission is still worthy of boasting about through official channels. As it rolls out the 2017 A4, Audi wants you to know there’ll be an option to ditch the PRNDL pattern on all-wheel-drive models, allowing spirited motorists the increasingly rare opportunity to take full control of their gear changes.

Oh, and those other guys? Yeah, they don’t offer one. Audi made sure to remind us of that. (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2016

2016 chevrolet spark ls

Are you sure you want to save the manuals?

In theory, of course, you want to save the manual transmission. You enjoy driving. You enjoy enhancing the man-machine connection by synchronizing movements between your left foot, right hand, and right foot. You value the art of a perfectly timed shift, of properly holding a gear through a corner when even the most intelligent automatic would upshift. You know the corner. You know driving. You know how to get the best out of a Ford Fiesta ST half an hour before sunrise on Italy’s Stelvio Pass, even though you’ve never set foot outside Iowa, even though you drive a RAV4 Hybrid.

“What? I would’ve gotten a manual if Toyota offered one,” thou doth protest too much.

As we approach greater degrees of autonomous driving, as roads fill up and speed limits are not altered to reflect our vehicles’ huge improvements in stopping ability and safety, saving the manuals sounds like a noble campaign. Preserve that last shred of pure driving already forsaken by Ferrari, by performance-oriented Porsches, by the general populace that believes their right hands are better off holding a skinny cinnamon dolce latte than a leather-wrapped shifter.

But I’m driving proof, a $9,995* 2016 Chevrolet Spark, that we shouldn’t paint with such a broad #SaveTheManuals brush. We should save some of the manuals, but certainly not all of them. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2016

2017 Toyota 86 Front 3/4, Image: Toyota

Toyota has released 2017 prices for some of its small cars, and it looks like a name change (and modest power increase) tacked a slight premium onto the Toyota 86, formerly the Scion FR-S.

A sign of our automated times, it looks like the manual transmission’s days could be numbered in the Corolla lineup. (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2016

Wrangler_6speed_001

The #SaveTheManuals crew can breathe a sigh of relief. It looks like the upcoming 2018 Jeep Wrangler won’t be an automatic-only model after all.

Spy shots of a Wrangler test mule’s interior shows a six-speed manual transmission, meaning Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got word from owners that the tranny option was worth saving. (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2016

2016 Jeep Wrangler

There’s been plenty of digital ink spilled over the forthcoming JL Wrangler, due out in 2018. Jeep is a huge cash cow for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, so the pressure is on to design a Wrangler which appeals to the general public and placates the hordes of rabid Jeep fans — who are known to gather torches and pitchforks at the mere suggestion of even the slightest design change.

A diesel option has been widely speculated, along with the chance of a turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant, both hooked to eight-speed automatics. Now, Andrew Collins over at the Truck Yeah arm of Jalopnik speculates the new JL could be offered solely as an automatic. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2015

2011-audi-r8-42-spyder-shifter-photo-416617-s-1280x782

Enjoy rowing your own instead of allowing Skynet to do the shifting? If you’re in the United States, your manual transmission options are few.

(Read More…)

By on November 27, 2014

2014-Chevy-SS-00181

Wanted a Chevrolet SS, but wanted to row your own? Your ship has arrived.

(Read More…)

By on July 21, 2014

Chevrolet SS

Those who were waiting for the Chevrolet SS to have a manual transmission to go with its Australian power, they can now breathe: The order guide confirms the 2015 model will that, as well as the Magnetic Ride suspension.

(Read More…)

By on July 8, 2014

T56_Magnum_1

In the automatic transmission racket, there have been new layouts and power flows galore lately. Your humble author has done a few articles detailing some of the more common designs in the North American market place, with the notable exception of the Aisin design. The design of a RWD manual transmission, on the other hand, is conceptually largely unchanged from the earliest 3 and 4 speed designs like the venerable M22 Rock crusher.This is not to say that RWD manual transmissions have not changed over the decades. The number of gears and torque capacities has increased, shift efforts have gone down, refinement has increased, which are all good things. This article provides some insights into the gear design and sizing for some of the more recent manual transmissions.

(Read More…)

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