After a year of good news (McDonald’s all-day breakfast came to Canada), it seems only fitting that 2017 will end in tears.
The Chevrolet Cruze, one of a shrinking number of models in which one can easily find a manual transmission, appears set to lose that option after the 2018 model year. As the owner of a manual-shift Cruze, no words can ease the pain.
For the 2018 model year, Volkswagen of America is adopting an entirely different approach to its sports sedan transmission lineup than Honda and Subaru.
Unlike the Honda Civic Si, which is available exclusively with a manual transmission, and unlike the Subaru WRX, which is available with a manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic, the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI will drop the manual transmission option.
Every Sunday or Monday, a very generous man appears in my driveway with a new car. The same man, in not as generous a fashion, also removes a car from my driveway. The most recent exchange involved the arrival of a fourth-generation 2018 Kia Rio and the departure of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe we reviewed last week.
“Chilly one today, eh?” I say.
“I’m preparing myself for some cold days in PEI this winter,” Mr. Sowerby says with a chuckle. We chat for a moment about a recent Chevrolet Traverse event that was slathered across my Twitter feed, and as Garry gets into the Mercedes-Benz to depart he says, “You’re getting a Mazda CX-3 with a six-speed stick next week.”
Huh? It can’t be. Seriously?
Let’s get this out of the way up front – I’ve always had a soft spot for the Honda Accord. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a fanboy, but I am a former owner of an ‘90s-era Accord coupe (I bought it used in 2005 or so and sold it in 2012) and I always felt that the Accord was sportier, generally speaking, than most other mid-size sedans.
Sure, the Mazda 6 has been the best driver’s car in the class for a while, and the Ford Fusion is fun to drive, but I’ve long thought the Accord had a sporting character the Camry and others lacked, at least until recently. Honda seemed to get more vanilla with the Accord in the past generation or two, even though the car still presented a strong package overall. Would the newest Accord, which comes with a choice of turbocharged engines and is available with a three-pedal setup, bring back the flavor of yore?
In this day and age, when a “coupe” often means a four-door SUV and automatics, DCTs, and CVTs perform almost all gear-shifting duties, it’s nice to see a patent from a major mainstream automaker concerning a manual transmission.
However, Toyota’s recent patent for an electronic tranny nanny might spark worry that the three-pedal experience, as endangered as it is, could become watered down by technology. A manual transmission that doesn’t let you make mistakes? Who’s in charge here?
Many new automatic transmissions are capable of shifting with a level of enthusiasm foreign to owners of cars that are only moderately old. Like, say, from 2009.
Many new automatic transmissions also shift faster and more intelligently and more consistently than you or I could ever hope to with a manual transmission.
And with manual transmissions dropping like flies, the quality of a these intelligent, consistent, rapid-fire automatic transmissions’ shifts should theoretically matter more than ever. Yet automakers are increasingly turning to paddle shifters as a means of giving control back to the driver. According to Edmunds, 186-percent more new vehicles feature paddle shifters in 2017 than in 2007.
Despite the fact that drivers don’t want the control.
Nissan has revealed that modest improvements to the 2018 Nissan 370Z will not result in any increase to the 370Z’s base price.
In the United States, 370Z pricing will start once again at $30,875, including an $885 destination and handling charge. But Nissan believes the 2018 370Z, while still very much the same sixth-generation car it’s been since the 2010 model year, is better than the 2017 car.
You can’t get a manual transmission in a 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS. You can’t get a manual transmission in a Ferrari 488 GTB. Yet for its ninth model year, Nissan saw fit to improve the 370Z’s manual experience.
How ’bout that?
Nissan USA will not. In changing the name of the pre-facelift Qashqai upon its import from Kyushu, Japan, Nissan has determined a manual transmission does not meet the requirements of the U.S. market. With a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a continuously variable transmission, the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport has a starting price of $22,360.
Yet north of the border, Nissan Canada has determined that the Rogue Sport — which keeps the Qashqai name in Canada — ought to be available with a six-speed manual transmission.
Not only a boon for small crossover buyers keen on maintaining a level of interactivity during the morning commute, the manual transmission drops the CAD base price by $2,000.
The result is a Nissan Rogue Sport, or rather a Nissan Qashqai, at a USD-equivalent MSRP of just $15,850.
Last week, my Ace of Base selection was met with loud derision from certain corners of the web. My intent was to prove how it’s possible for one to get into a comfortable, well-equipped, diesel-powered Canyon pickup without springing for an SLT or Denali trim. Nevertheless, my efforts were met with a chorus of WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO AN ACE OF BASE ON A ROLLS-ROYCE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE.
Well then, without further delay…
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.
“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?
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?
It disappeared in the night. There was no fanfare. No protest. No grand announcement. Barely anyone even noticed. They all just kept buying amorphous transportation blobs with available all-wheel drive. No one took the time to look at the options list on the compact car bolted to the dealership floor.
That’s right. In the United States of America, the 2017 Ford Focus hatchback is no longer available with a manual transmission outside of the ST and RS.
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.
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?
I’m a #savethemanuals sucker. My daily driver and only car is a damn Miata Club six-speed, but I’m getting married in a couple of months and my fiancée is not so stubborn. I’ve taught her how to drive stick, and she’s pretty good at it, but it’s not her thing. Driving really isn’t her thing, in fact. She doesn’t now have a car. When she used to live in a part of the country where you need a car, she had some plain Kia or whatever. Her only strong preference is for smaller cars over larger ones, as we live in a dense urban area.
Let’s say for argument’s sake I knock her up in the next 12-18 months. We’ll be in the market for another car. I wouldn’t be the primary driver, but I’d drive it often enough. She wouldn’t mind if it’s “fun and nice.”
I would keep buying stick shifts until they stop selling them, and I’d resent any car if I could have in a stick yet passed on the option in favor of a CVT. Still, I understand that’s not how the world works. I think the best compromise, then, is to get a car that isn’t available with a manual transmission.
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