QOTD: What Car Needs a Manual?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Earlier this morning I sent a Toyota Supra with a stickshift back to the press fleet.

I liked the manual version of the Supra in part because the clutch and shifter were dialed-in nicely -- the clutch had good heft and takeup and the shifter had firm, short throws and well-defined gates. Of course, as one journalist joked to me the other day, "that Supra is better just because it's a manual, right?"

We all know there are a few cars out there that would likely be better with a manual. Or in some cases, you can get a stick with one engine but not another on the same model (cough Ford Bronco cough).

What car do you think needs three pedals and a row-your-own gearbox?

Sound off below.

[Image: Toyota]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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4 of 78 comments
  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Mar 24, 2023

    Most cars would be better with a manual. Maybe not the large SUV/sedan classes of cars, but everything else would be better/more enjoyable.

    Everything smaller than a Camry would drive better with a manual.

  • Gabe Gabe on Mar 24, 2023

    Cars - Sentra, Altima, Mazda3 sedan, Corolla, Corolla hatch, Corolla Cross, Kona N, new Subaru Impreza RS, Crosstrek 2.5L. Others - Mazda CX-50 Turbo, Acura RDX, Ford Maverick/Bronco Sport, Nissan Rogue and Frontier.

  • Bobby D'Oppo Bobby D'Oppo on Mar 25, 2023

    Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.

    In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.

  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Mar 26, 2023

    My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you. Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers.