By on July 31, 2018

The list of new vehicles available with a manual transmission grows shorter each year, and for the vast majority of the driving populace, that’s just fine. But driving enthusiasts bemoan each model lost to the advancing wave of computer-controlled everything, closely keeping tabs on which vehicles can still be had with a three-pedal setup. A few might even buy one.

Even sporting European brands are not immune. In BMW’s stable, the 5 Series jettisoned its last 5 and 6 Series sticks (by then relegated to M models) in 2016. Other models went two pedal-only in recent years, including the 228i, 328i, and 428i. But BMW says there’s still a flame that keeps the transmission option alive in certain models, and it’ll keep building them until buyers give up, or our robot overlords take over. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2018

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA, Image: Subaru of America

Is Subaru, a scrappy-but-approaching-the-mainstream automaker, about to ditch the manual transmission? That’s what some are gleaning from comments made by Subaru UK managing director Chris Graham on the sidelines of the Geneva Motor Show this week.

Speaking to Auto Express, Graham mused about the brand’s EyeSight driver-assist technology and Subaru’s desire to include the suite of safety aids on all of its cars. The trouble is, EyeSight isn’t available on Subarus equipped with manual transmissions. If you’re looking for goodies like automatic emergency braking and lane departure warnings, a Lineartronic CVT had best be on your wish list, too.

Graham’s comments point to a Subaru that’s prepared to weaken the bond between driver and car in the name of increased computerized control. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2017

gearshift stick shift manual transmission

A telling conversation took place last week. A longtime friend, who’s now more gainfully employed than in years past and owns a current-generation Nissan Rogue, texted me about the 2018 Nissan Qashqai — known as the Rogue Sport south of the border.

As he rarely uses his Rogue for cargo or passenger-hauling duties, the reduction in volume isn’t a concern. My friend wants more content for the same price as his larger vehicle. I informed him that, unlike in America, he could choose a Qashqai/Rogue Sport with a manual transmission, provided he’s willing to live with whatever Nissan Canada’s base trim amounts to.

“No way,” he told me. “I like features. I’ll never bother with standard transmissions again.”

This is coming from a guy who for years drove a base Volkswagen Fox, followed by a base GMC Sonoma, each equipped with a three-pedal setup. Granted, no one looked towards the Fox or Sonoma for spirited driving. Still, it seems age and income has done its work — no longer is my friend interested in anything but enjoying a lifestyle of convenience.

Are you the same way? (Read More…)

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…)

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