By on April 8, 2019

2018 Accord Sport 2.0-Liter Turbo - Image: Honda

Some days, it seems as if the world is on an unending march to eradicate the manual transmission from our North American automotive landscape. The 911, various trucks, you name it — soon, there won’t be a stick to fetch anywhere.

Or will there? Fresh off writing a roundup of cars available in the Great White North with three pedals, I got to thinking: what would the B&B buy today if they had to select a stickshift vehicle?

This isn’t another #SaveTheManuals post, by the way. I — reluctantly, on occasion — recognize the fact that a good automatic can outperform this bag of flesh and bones without problem. There’s a reason why some new sports cars are auto-only, after all.

Still, there’s a surprising number of new cars out there with a manual transmission still on the options list. Some are at the instant noodles end of the spectrum, offering a standard to placate the penny pinchers amongst us. Some others, like our current crop of hot hatchbacks, install a stick for the fun of it. Rowing your own through a twisty road while piloting a lightweight and stubby hatchback is a great pleasure.

Honda does a great job, with manual transmissions spread throughout the model range like so much kudzu. A raft of Civics are available with three pedals, with a variety of trims and body styles open to those who prefer to row their own. Even the big Accord offers a standard, a rarity in that segment.

That’ll be my pick for this QOTD. How about you?

[Image: Honda]

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86 Comments on “QOTD: Stick It to the Man?...”


  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Just going with cars I’ve driven –
    New: The MX-5’s stick is God’s own manual with the best short throws. The Civic Type-R comes in a VERY close second, and would be first if we are discussing a daily driver.

    Used: The Honda S2000’s shifter was just perfect. The clutch was just right so you didn’t stall when you had to high-rev it to make the most of the limited torque at stops. I’d put the RX-8’s manual up there as well, but at times, the clutch engagement seemed to want you to stall at lights.

    Honorable mention: Acura RSX Type-S. Still miss that car. Up until the Civic Type-R, probably the best manual in a FWD car out there.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    The day Mazda stops offering a manual on the Miata will be the end days. A manual Miata on a curvy road on a sunny day is automotive enthusiast nirvana.

    That said, the Mazda6 manual is a nice daily driver. Though Mazda seems to have removed the option from anything above base trim this year, at least they still offer it. Finding one at a dealership is another matter altogether. I’d buy one of those, mostly because I can’t stand Honda’s new designs.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      You’d better snap up a 6 soon, the manual drops from the car entirely next model year.

      I’ve driven the new body style Accord, they drive very well, and the styling grows on you.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Anyone know if that is true in the great white north?

        canada had the MT GT that the US didn’t get :(, wondering if the end of the MT on the 6 is US only or if that includes canada.

        There’s a lot of canucks on here… anyone know?

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Placed an order for a 2019 Accord Touring last weekend. The car does punch above its weight class despite the loss of the V6.

        Finding a manual Sport (the only trim level offering the stick) is difficult indeed! There are occasional 1.5Ts sprinkled throughout the dealers in a given area, but the Sport 2.0T sticks are almost a special-order item — if the dealer will even give you that opportunity!

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I’ve read that after initial non-availability of Mazda6MT, later, they will add ability for custom order.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Current:
    Honda Civic Si coupe (manual only)
    Hyundai Veloster N
    Ford Mustang GT
    Toyota 86

    Future:
    2021 Ford Bronco with the rumored 7 speed manual.

  • avatar

    It is terribly simple for me. If the model offers a manual transmission, it can be on my list to consider. If not, then not. Period.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Mustang. both of my previous ones were manual, and if I was to get a new one damn skippy it’d be a stick.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    To buy and drive daily, including paying for gas/maintenance/insurance? Easy. Corolla hatchback or Elantra GT.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    A GT350 seems like the kind of car you’d want to buy now while you’re still able to. I don’t see a lot of 8000+ RPM naturally aspirated V8s connected to manual transmissions in the future.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    For me, with a toddler in tow… GTI is the only realistic answer. Nobody makes a manual 6 cylinder sedan anymore, so if I’m gonna have a diesely 4 pot it might as well be in something small and light.

    Once she and hopefully #2 go front facing I def want to look at the 2 series. I feel like its days are numbered.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Nissan Frontier 4X4.
    Waiting to see what the Bronco brings.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    Miata, if my username did not already give away my answer :)

    Focus RS also possible.

    GTI would actually work better with the auto for me.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Gotta go with the Golf. Base engines need all the help they can get.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    As a family guy, it looks like the upcoming GLI will be my choice.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    New Civic Si; great chassis, engine, shifter. It narrowly lost out to a 9-year-old stick-shift G35.

  • avatar

    I’ve got a stick 335i now, so I would try and snag something from BMW. Probably an M240i with a row-your-own. Otherwise, a GTI would be great, and a manual Gladiator for winters. It’s really pleasing to see a bevy of choices. Hopefully Honda sticks to offering manuals across the lineup

  • avatar
    RSF

    Jeep Wrangler
    Mustang
    Corvette
    911 /Cayman

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I got my C7 with a stick so I am doing my part to save the manuals.

      I drove my brother’s Boxster GTS with the PDK and its amazing… but still not a stick. In fact I’d say its almost too good as the shifts are so fast it feels like your driving in a video game.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t think there’s any new car where I’d take the manual over the automatic. Basically Triumphs, Vipers, and motorcycles are the only things I’m into enough where I’d shift myself.

  • avatar
    TheDutchGun

    Focus ST, as that is what I drive.

    I will shop manuals as long as I possibly can. It’s more enjoyable and the increased driver input makes me a more attentive driver. Not that I’m inattentive in an auto…

    It’s also less expensive for any required transmission work later on.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Ford Mustang – already driving a 3.7L V6 with a 6-speed manual and loving it. GT will be next unless I can find a well-priced (and used) 392 Challenger.

    Dodge Challenger R/T, etc
    BMW 230i / 240i / M2
    Honda Accord / Civic Si / R

    I’ll keep driving manuals until I can’t.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Family Man says:

    Jetta GLI – 6 speed, well liked turbo-4, and more trunk room than a Malibu.

    Honda Accord Sport 2.0T – making me wish other 2.0 turbo family cars had a stick option.

    Jeep Wrangler Sport S 4-door hardtop with V6 and manual. Although were I to actually plunk down my own dollars it would be on a turbo 4 eTorque model which is automatic only.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Now that BMW and Mercedes no longer offer manual in anything I would be interested in, I have switched to electric to get the feel of a manual in spades. Immediate, precise, linear throttle response? Check. No annoying dip in torque on throttle application? Check. No freewheeling sensation of no control in corners and on off-ramps? Check. Strong engine braking? Check x 10.

    EVs are ultimate enthusiast vehicles. Best of all worlds plus huge power and available RWD. Yum!

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    Gladiator.

  • avatar
    Chi-One

    Easy….Challenger Scat Pack Shaker

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    Any sub-Hellcat Challenger. 700+ hp would just be a bit easier to manage through the 8-spd, Im thinking.

    Jeep Wrangler 2-door or Gladiator. There’s just no reason at all not to go manual in annold school 4×4.

    Id pretty much choose a manual wherever it’s offered.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    No manual for me. I’m all about wafting.

  • avatar
    4drSedan

    Current Car: 2017 Accord Sport Manual…probably the worst shifter / clutch combo I’ve ever driven which complements the unbearable seats and godawful ergonomics. Seriously, the steering wheel blocks the top third of the speedo. The door armrest doesn’t allow you to rest your elbow while holding the steering wheel, it just hovers in space.

    I hate to reward Honda for producing such a piece of garbage (of course I’m the bigger idiot for buying it) but I plan to trade it in on a 2.0 Accord Sport Manual (possibly in red).

  • avatar
    la834

    The car I want, the standard Golf in top-line SEL trim is available in Canada (with a 6 speed manual) but not the US. Of those sold in the US, I’d go for a Golf GTI or maybe the Alltrack, the latter which bucked the trend by making manuals available on all models for the first time this year.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Current most of the time DD is an 05′ Vette’ with the 6MT.

    I would gladly accept a new (er) Vette’ with another MT. It is my understanding the Tremec 6060 is much better than the T56 found in my car which can be wonky on occasion.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      My C7 Z51 has the Tremec 6070 with rev match. I find it is a bit notchy but never owned or driven another Corvette so don’t have a reference point. Throws are very short, clutch effort is spot on (not too heavy or too light) but 7 speeds seems like overkill and reverse is sometimes hard to select.

      Best stick shift I have even owned was my ’89 Honda Prelude Si. That thing was magical.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I think a more interesting question is what model would you buy IF a manual was an available option.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    2 years ago I was shopping for a new car. Manual was one of my requirements. I ended up in a Mazda6 Touring.

    If I didn’t have rear-facing car seats to worry about, I would have bought a GTI. If the GLI weren’t ancient in 2017, I would have given it more consideration.

    If I were shopping today, I would look at the redesigned GLI and Accord 2.0T.

  • avatar
    Dan C

    81 land cruiser with a 4 speed

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    My next car purchase will be a manual , eyes on G70 if don’t go preowned sports car( I know this does nothing for the movement by buying used), but pragmatism wins

  • avatar
    packardhell1

    2019 Ram 2500. 6 speed manual with a Cummins diesel + 5th wheel hitch package. Crew cab, 2WD, $44k.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    Proud to report that last week I put my money and left foot where my mouth is and took home a brand new Civic Si sedan – and actually found a rare 2019 with the summer tires as a no cost option.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      The good news about driving a Civic: when you’re inside it, you don’t have to look at the exterior! I could see making the same choice, if I can resist the allure of electric torque for one last IC purchase.

  • avatar
    darex

    Picked a MINI Countryman S ALL4 over its BMW X1 sibling, because “manual.”

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    First, I’ll make a comment on the irony of an article talking about the decline in vehicles offering manual transmissions, while simultaneously still calling them standard transmissions. With that out of the way…

    I currently have a Mazda6 with a 6 speed that I am very happy with. It lacks some of the features I want, but that’s in no way a deal killer.

    However, if that died in an accident, I would March first to Subaru and pick up a WRX in either red or blue, with the heated seats and sunroof. Then I’d shuttle over to an upholsterer and have the interior which wouldn’t look out of place in an early 2000s Cavalier upgraded. Barring that, I’d get a bulldog Accord 2.0T.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I would pick Mustang GT. But since I needed 4-door, I picked what I would pick – Mazda6

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Subaru BRZ. If I got a Jetta GLI (possible) or a Cayman (not likely) I think I’d go with the dual clutch.

  • avatar
    NG5

    After three years with it I’d probaby buy another Fiesta ST, the 2019 this time before it’s gone. I want a Miata but I can’t really support it as my only car at this time. It’s a crime they won’t be selling the Fiesta ST again in North America; it is going to be impossible to let this car go.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    One child in rear facing seat, I have a new age Subaru WRX. It works well enough for a family of 3. I would choose it again if I had to.

    Runner up: Civic Si

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I drove the Jeep Renegade with the 1.4T manual in mid-grade Latitude AWD trim and it was a nice package.

    Unlike the Jeep version, the 500X could only be found with the manual in base FWD trim. For a brand that is already a niche player that appeals to European car intenders, I would think Fiat could take a risk with the manual transmission more than many other brands.

    Frankly, I never understood why Fiat has been so stingy with manuals in the US as a whole. Their dealer lots are chock full of aged inventory of auto trans 500s (the small ones) while sticks are hard to find. That car with a 5-speed is fun to drive while the same one with the automatic is just “meh.”

    I’d never consider the 500 Abarth with the automatic but the manual I owned for a couple of years was great fun. Likewise, the Alfa 4C could be an a amazing car if it had 3 pedals. As it is now, the sounds it makes when shifting gears sounds like a cow after eating a bushel of pinto beans… with a real manual it would be a cut-rate exotic. I can’t say I’d buy one (budget constraints) but I think they would certainly sell better than they do now.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Mazda 6 with the turb-oh wait they don’t sell a manual with the good engine

    Mazda 3 with the turb-oh wait they don’t sell a manual with the good engine

    Screw it, GT350.

  • avatar
    Waterloo

    Finally I can tell someone! I just voted with my wallet and ordered a 2019 Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS manual. Should be here in July.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Would you be able to sleep at night knowing that your car wears name of the Hitler’s personal friend and ardent Nazi?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        As I recall, you have said that people who can’t take care of themselves should just die. Given that, maybe you should take a softer moralizing line.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I know I’d lay down with a smile on my face thinking about a new 911 in the garage. Unfortunately, I’m in close enough proximity to my Mazda while asleep that I’m subjected to constant nightmares of Japanese soldiers using the weapons created by Toyo Cork Kogyo Co. to commit atrocities against the Chinese, Koreans, and other Asian peoples.

        Nice choice, Waterloo.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    The GTI and M/Fiata. And oddly enough, both are sitting in my garage.

    Gun to my head to drive a sedan, the GLI would be fine.

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