Hammer Time: Auto or Stick?

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time auto or stick

You come to a gala press event filled with beautiful sheetmetal and old friends. The lunch is catered and the folks hosting the event go completely out of their way to make you happy. So far so good!

They have a fair amount riding on their new billion dollar entry level car. Tens of thousands of people will earn their livelihood on a model that promises to be ‘economical, sporty, and fun’ for only ‘$15,995!’ (before destination charge, tax, tag, title fee, and other bogus charges laden in dealer inspired small print).

Right now that ‘real’ cost doesn’t matter to you. You came to write a review, give it a fair shake, and inform the two million monthly visitors at this site that seek honesty and truth above all else. You walk up to the car. Sit down with another writer. Turn the key. Drive off… and…

The car sucks. There is no other way of putting it. The suspension is fine. The interior is on par with what you would expect for the price range. But damn! The automatic on this car seems to suck 20% of the power and 90% of the fun out of the driving experience.

You resign yourself to the fact that this review will mention a lot of nice complements on the interior. The seats. The fuel economy. Maybe the exterior is pleasing and it comes with a few electronic doo-dad’s that young people need and older folks rarely touch. But it’s not a fun car. Not at all.

You know why? A fun entry level car with a slushbox hasn’t been made in nearly 20 years.

Every entry level car with a slushbox, from the Cavalier to a Yaris has been an absolute adrenalin depleting disaster. These are commuter scooters. Nothing more. Made to a price point and designed for the open traffic jam. They are appliances without a verve of nerve except when they come with a good five-speed.

Then it all fits. The tires have just enough grip. The handling is awesome. The five speed flows like butter as you begin openly exploring the limits of exhilaration and adhesion. Damn! It is ‘FUN’!’ Every stoplight has become an opportunity to celebrate a vehicle that truly outperforms all your expectations.

This is the perfect car for the enthusiast. Except for when those enthusiasts that read your work have to deal with the traffic jams, the parking lots, the long lines of cars at concerts and sporting events.

The reality of 2011 is that most open road driving is done in traffic. Sorry. Stickshifts become a relative pain when it comes to the creep and crawl of modern driving. That’s why automatics have a higher approval rating than presidents at the beginning of wars.

Is that convenience worth it to you?

Let’s zoom in on the ‘entry level’ car market in particular. When it comes to buying an entry level car, would you give into the lords of convenience and get an automatic? Or would you willingly suffer the slings and arrows of heavy knees and muscled calves by driving a stick?

Join the conversation
9 of 218 comments
  • Bytor Bytor on Jul 30, 2011

    After reading most of this thread, it is really depressing, not that people drive less MT, but the level of whiny excuse making. 90% of sales are automatic. Whenever the topic comes up with an AT driver IRL, I find the vast majority never learned, or learned but bought an AT car first and never really became comfortable. No excuses no densiveness. Just as it should be. I have no disdain for them. They are just describing the reality. AT is what they know and it works for them. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Oddly in this discussion, I have only seen a tiny minority of such replies. Instead what the majority of non-MT drivers here proclaim total MT proficiency, with the "it's too much work" excuse to drive MT in traffic. I do have massive disdain for that excuse. Too much work? If you are physically feeble that might be an acceptable answer. I am middle aged, and I have a bad left knee, and constant bursitis in my left hip. That bothers me when hiking down steep rocky terrain or doing 45 minutes of running, but pushing a clutch? What exactly is the massive increase work load in Stop n Go when you are doing brake,throttle,brake,throttle, to add clutch presses to that. Your right leg is already doing double duty and your left is sitting there doing nothing... It isn't even enough work to count as mild exercise. Someone here mentioned that we don't manually roll up our windows anymore. Guess what? My car has manual roll up windows as well. Would that be too much work as well? Again, I don't look down on people who don't drive MT, but really I do look down on whiny excuse makers. You don't have to make excuses, drive what you want. Just stop with silly, driving in traffic is too much work whine. I really don't want to know that you are such as wuss that pushing the clutch is too much work for you. What next? Chewing food too much work, drive through too much effort to get food. So we need little robot jets to deliver liquid food right into your hand? http://img685.imageshack.us/img685/6029/flydrink.jpg

    • See 1 previous
    • Eldard Eldard on Jul 30, 2011

      @Pch101 No one likes a whiner. Kinda like Amerikans, the greatest whiners in the world. lolz

  • Alwaysinthecar Alwaysinthecar on Jul 31, 2011

    eldard, your comments here are becoming embarrassing to native Europeans like myself. You are making it appear that all non-Americans are under educated. Poking fun at other cultures only reveals one's own insecurities and immaturity, and unfortunately stereotyping can also develop into a form of racism which has not been healthy lately in both the EU and America.

    • See 4 previous
    • Eldard Eldard on Aug 01, 2011

      @eldard Thanks, Yoda! I do not fear them. If anything I fear for them. They are so gonna get it in the ass as their country (and the whole Western world except for Germanic Europe minus the UK) is finally supplanted. But then again they will emerge unscathed with the coming global food shortages. Their fat is gonna sustain them during these trying times. :)

  • Master Baiter Might as well light 50 $100 bills on fire.
  • Mike1041 At $300K per copy they may secure as much as 2 or 3 deposits of $1,000
  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!
  • Sgeffe As was stated in another comment, the FAA nominee went down in flames. But the NTSB chairwoman certainly didn’t, and she’s certainly not qualified either!Lots of this kind of stuff going on both sides of the aisle—Ben Carson would have arguably made a better Surgeon General than HUD Secretary under Trump, for example.
  • Art Vandelay Interesting, the Polestar 2 I had as a rental utilized Android Automotive which is what GM said it is going to exclusively, yet it still offers Apple CarPlay according to this. Wonder if GM will do the same.