If you haven’t noticed recently, manual transmissions are becoming less and less available in new cars. What was once the natural thrifty choice for transmissions is almost not available in entry-level versions of cars. Newer transmissions that have more gears and more advanced shifting algorithms are actually more efficient then the do-it-yourself gearbox. We HOPE that the manual does not go the way of the Dodo, but here is a reminder of a few reasons why the stick shift is awesome.
You Can Maximize a Car’s Performance:
Automatics may be the better choice for MPG these days, but what makes them fuel-efficient makes them boring. Even in an econo-box, if it has a manual, you can have fun with it. Automatics try to get to the highest gear as soon as possible, but you can hold onto second gear longer, let the revs fly, and you can make your crappy 1.6-liter feel like a sportscar!
It Makes You Pay Attention:
Playing with your cell phone, reading from a tablet, eating a burrito– these are all things that people actually do behind the wheel when driving. They do this not because they want to get in an accident, but because you have a free hand. If you need to hold the wheel with your left hand and a shifter with your right, you don’t have the free hand to play with your phone.
Having to perform a semi-complicated task of disengaging a gear, switching gears, and engaging the clutch also keeps you pretty attentive. You’ll be more aware of other things coming your way on the road.
You Can Be More Effective in Braking/Turning:
If you go to downshift in a manual, there is tendency to jerk forward as you lose momentum. That is where heel-toe comes in. The art of heel-toe shifting is a skill possessed by a select few. It is a process where you downshift, but also “blip” the throttle as you do, so you maintain smooth momentum in that downshift. It’s key in braking and turning.
If you have a big ole V8 in a car with an automatic, it is not being used to its full potential, and this is one of the reasons why.
Your Friends Can’t Borrow Your Car:
Have you ever had to loan your car to a friend? Depending on the quality of your friends, it can come back with French fries smashed into the carpet, or come back with dents. If your car has a manual transmission, there is a good chance most of your friends will not be able to drive it. The ones that can, you don’t worry as much about, considering they care about cars as much as you.
It Puts You In a Select Club:
So many of your friends and family can’t drive stick. Like calligraphy or knowing French, it is a skill that sets you apart from the rest. As male, you come off as handier. As a female, it is a rather fetching skill to possess, like knowing more about football than your guy friends.
In short, driving stick is a skill that not everyone has, and to possess this skill makes you instantly a more capable driver than those around you.
Build In Theft Prevention:
Just like your group of friends, not everyone can drive stick. That includes criminals. About once a year we hear a story about would-be car thieves that get caught because they cannot drive stick. If you drive a car with a manual transmission you make it more difficult for car thieves. Now if someone that knows ho to drive stick steals your car, sorry- we don’t know what to tell you.
An 8-speed automatic gearbox has those extra gears so it can achieve better fuel economy, but the manual EPA ratings are an average as a result of standardized testing. If you know to shift early, you can actually get better than the advertised fuel economy. Talk to any hyper-miler about it!
It Shows You Care:
Most people don’t care about cars or at the very least, are not enthusiastic about car ownership. This is signified by the selection of a boring family car with an automatic transmission. Ownership of a car with a manual instantly signifies that you care about the car your drive– and you care enough to do the shifting yourself. A manual connects you to your car. It connects you to how the engine works. Any car is instantly more fun with a manual transmission, and the fact that you want more fun out of your car lets the rest of us know that you give a damn.