Save The Manuals? Maybe We Don’t Need To

Controversial opinion ahead: modern dual-clutch automatic gearboxes are better than modern manual gearboxes.

I’ve been lucky enough to drive a handful of modern performance dual-clutch-equipped cars over the past few years and never once have I walked away thinking ‘that thing needs a manual gearbox’.

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I completely understand the nostalgic attachment to a good ol’ stick shift. There’s that tactile, physical link between you and the drivetrain and, unquestionably, for certain applications having a clutch pedal offers you a far greater amount of control for how the power is delivered. For example, in drift applications having a clutch pedal offers a great advantage in terms of controlling the slides, and even breaking traction in the first place. On the flip side, when grip-driving, DCT gearboxes have an advantage in that you can complete fast upshifts mid-corner without massively upsetting the balance of the car, something that you really shouldn’t do in a manual if you want to maintain traction.

Der neue Volkswagen Golf R

Before I get berated in the comments section, let me explain why modern DCTs are so good, and why we should really embrace them over manual boxes.

First and foremost, DSG/PDK-equipped cars shift faster and more efficiently than you or I ever could. Audi and Volkswagen’s DSG/S-Tronic gearboxes can shift up gears in just 8 milliseconds, with downshifts taking around 600ms (including rev/throttle matching), while other dual-clutch systems from the likes of Ferrari, BMW, Lamborghini and so forth take between 80-250 milliseconds to swap cogs. As a comparison, it’s believed than it takes between 500 milliseconds and two seconds for a fast shift with a manual gearbox and clutch, depending on which gears you’re going from and to, as well as the driver and gearbox in question.

Of course, you can’t simply subtract this shift from your acceleration time to work out the difference – the car doesn’t stop suddenly between gears, you simply lose acceleration between shifts. Over the course of a 0-60mph sprint it won’t add up to much in two otherwise identical cars, but over the course of several laps there’s likely to be a measurable difference.

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Secondly, DCTs are easier to drive on a daily basis. I don’t know about you, but here in the UK I spend considerably more time sat in traffic, up and down on the clutch pedal, than I do joyously swapping cogs on twisty roads without hindrance. Plus, you have the choice of how you use the gearbox too: if you’re stuck in traffic or just cruising along you leave it in drive, but when it’s time for a bit more involvement you knock it into manual mode and away you go.

AudiUK00018757

On that note, paddles make you feel like a race driver. Fact. The feeling of blapping through gears at pace using just your fingers, or rapidly rattling down the box as you approach a bend whilst listening to the engine rev-match ready for the quickly-approaching gear is immensely satisfying.

Of course, there are downsides to DCT systems: they weigh more, naturally, and yes some can leave you feeling somewhat detached from the driving experience, especially when coupled with modern traction and stability control systems. If I was buying a pure track toy that served no other purpose, I’d probably spec something lightweight with zero electronic aids and a solid manual box, sure, but for a road-based performance car that occasionally sees the track, it would be DCT all the way.

What’s your take on this – are you a hardcore manual-only driver? Have you tried a modern DCT box yet? Are you converted to paddle-shifting? Let me know in the comments below.

I understand the want to grasp onto the notion that manual boxes are better in performance cars, I really do. For a long time performance models were only offered with manual boxes, but that’s mostly because automatics were, well, a bit shit. But times have changed; auto box technology has come on leaps and bounds, whereas manual gearboxes are much the same as they’ve been for a long while now. Maybe it’s time we let go of the stick and embrace what modern gearbox and clutch technology can do for performance cars?

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters
jordan@speedhunters.com

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1

On this subject I am totally with you, even though I prefer and currently only drive manual transmission cars. However, should a traction controlled, dual clutch DCT transmission become reasonably available for my Z32TT I'd go for it in a second. I did own a G35 for a spell with AT/manual shift option and as mentioned, it served well for daily driving in HELLISH Seattle/Tacoma commutes (1.5-2 hours for a 27 mile trip annually) and was also fun in manual mode.
I'll never try and say that any auto transmission is preferable to a manual transmission since it is very fun doing it all myself, but on the other hand it's not as if the DCT transmissions are not BETTER in many ways because of the shift speed, and drive stability and reliability versus what most people can accomplish with a manual transmission...not to mention how much better they are in snow and icy conditions.
My perfect solution would be my current high power, m/t Z32, plus another one for daily duty with DCT trans and traction control.

2

There is no argument about performance when it comes to PDK/DSG/whateveryoucallit vs. manual. Manual is definitely outright slower so I don't think there's any point bashing on the performance debate.
Which brings me to my point: driving a manual isn't about performance, it's about the feels. I *want* my sports car to be harder to drive fast than it needs to be. Twin clutch gear boxes do all of the "hard" stuff for you such as rev-matched down shifts. Porsche still offer their "lower" performance cars in manual, not because it's better for performance reasons, it's because the people who buy them want to drive them like that - the phrase "real driver's car" gets thrown around a lot. So while high powered cars are too much of a handful with a manual, but when it comes to a lower HP sports cars e.g. Boxster, Cayman, you just cannot beat the feeling of doing it all yourself, even if you are going slower. This is the same for road vs. track. We don't all go to the track with the intention of trying to beat the superlap lap time. Some of us just want to have fun and I cannot hand-on-heart say that I've ever driven a dual-clutch version of a manual car, and found it to be more fun. But then, that's just my preference, right?

3

I Agree with @anon 100%. As the owner of a modern DCT car, i can say without a shadow of a doubt that i prefer a manual car for my performance car. When i buy a sporty car its not just about the numbers its about your interaction with the car and for that a manual is significantly better than the DCT. So i disagree with the article. SAVE THE MANUALS PLEASE.....................

I actually did not expect to see this article on speedhunters of all the places

Author4
Jordan Butters

Thanks for sharing your opinion. What car do you have, out of interest?

On your final point - why did you not expect to see an opinion piece on Speedhunters? And why would someone offering an alternative to the mainstream ‘manuals are the only option for performance’ view be a negative?

5

DCTs are now being eschewed for good old torque converter 'boxes now. Some of the fastest cars out there use an auto 'box now. Big case study is F10 v G90 M5. The W213 E63 S & the forthcoming AMG GT 4 Door. All have torque converters. And none of which would be considered clunky or of the non-sporting variety; on and off the track. The ubiquitous ZF 8sp 'box is in everything. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum Honda has been developing and patented an 11 speed triple clutch 'box. Cool. But, the diminishing point of returns for DCTs has always been complexity of operation (mechanically), weight, maintenance, and torque capacity; something that Porsche, unsurprisingly, checks all of the boxes in the new Panamera Turbo. But that car can neither be called simple or lacking complexities. Not trying to start a row over the opinion, but its definitely a point of irony that we've come almost full circle back to the good old torque converter slush 'box. Because now with modern electronics having a torque converter isn't so much a slur anymore.

6

I drive a MK6 GTI

I am not surprised to see an opinion piece just this particular opinion piece :) . I expected this sort of article of one of those other car sites ( i wont name them)

I am a bit surprised because speedhunters tended to run more counterculture in my mind at least and seemed to cater to persons who wanted as much involvement with their cars as possible.

In my mind those two things would indicate that the manual transmission would be promoted. What i got from the article is that maybe its time we allowed the manual transmission to die and embrace the DCT. Even if that is not what you meant, that is what i understood from it. Based on some of the responses here i suspect i am not the only one who thought that.

7

Out of interest why did you buy the DSG? There seems to be no shortage of two pedal people shouting save the manual, but not actually buying.

F80 M3 ZCP here with all three pedals present and correct.

8

That is the issue nowadays finding a manual even if you want one is becoming harder. I suspect that this will get worse. So no offense to the author but i am not a fan of this article.

9

Very simple actually. Where i live the dealer stopped selling them. So a manual GTI was just not an option. In fact in my country finding a manual car is becoming harder and harder with only a few dealers willing to special order manual vehicles at extra cost of course.

Unfortunately i lost my previous manual car :( and needed something rather urgently hence the DSG. If i had a choice i would be in a manual GTI

10
Paddy McGrath

Good point, well made.

11

I can see where you're coming from and agree with most of your points in the article. If I was going for all out performance I'd probably go paddle shift, and while I'll agree it is much faster, I have always enjoyed driving manuals more. This is because for me the joy in driving the car is not completely in how well the car performs, but in how it makes me feel when I drive it and connection I feel I have with the car and the road, and for latter at least the car doesn't have to be fast. One of the most enjoyable cars I have ever owned was in fact the slowest, a Morris Minor 1000 of all things, because for me you drive that car, and your complete focus when you're in it is focusing and the road, the shifting and the braking, sure being stuck in traffic can be a tad annoying, but to me that's part of the character of owning such a car, versus a lot of modern cars which have so much computer aids and assists in them, it feels like the car is driving you most of the time, sure it's ultimately safer, quicker and a lot easier to drive in just about every driving scenario, but a quick and easy to drive car doesn't necessarily equal a fun one. A lot of people on here may disagree with me, but I feel that a lot of older cars had a way of engaging the driver that modern cars simply don't do.

Author12
Jordan Butters

Thanks for reading and adding a thoughtful response!

13

Are you high?

14

Right as I read this comment a low rider drove by my house blasting Touch the Sky by Kanye West.

"I'm sky high..."

That made my day.

Author15
Jordan Butters

Are you going to contribute to the discussion?

16

No, he's right. Not only that, imagine how incredible it's going to be when automatic steering surpasses human capabilities, leaving the driver better able to focus on controlling the intermittent wipers.

17

ahhh yes i too dream on the days where Wall-E becomes reality

18
Mina Ingraham

This. Soon computers will lap faster than humans. Sorry, but I want to drive. One of my competition cars is a ford v8 swap bmw e30 with manual steering and manual brakes to go with the manual transmission. She’s hard to drive but immensely rewarding. My 04 STi, which I purchased new in 04, is more advanced but still fairly primitive in today’s world . Love them both. No interest in newer stuff.

19

All of this "computers can and will do it better" business ignores the human component, which is an inescapable part of motoring.

Follow the arguments in favor of safety, environmental friendliness, cost and all the other Modern concerns to their logical conclusion and you get the Matrix.

I for one think that humans are NOT obsolete, and never will be.

I think we'll still be here long after history's rendered its judgment on the electronic computer and its effects on the world, whatever that judgment might be.

Computers are tools. nothing more, nothing less.

They exist to serve mankind - we didn't make them to be our successors.

Author20
Jordan Butters

I see the logic of the leap you’re making, but it’s a gigantic leap to say the least. I’m talking about how manuals aren’t everything in performance anymore and driving using paddles wth a good DCT is actually a positive experience and not how our robot overlords should be transporting us.

Skynet isn’t here yet folks.

21
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

While I don't mind paddle shifters, the thing is a lot of people still do want manual gearboxes. Why can't manufacturers just offer that option for those who still want 3 pedals?

22

Mainly because most people don't really want to drive, and the beancounters at your average car company won't sign off on anything they can't get at least a 20% take rate on.

My theory is that THAT should be the next big trend in car culture - the manual transmission swap.

You get a six-speed gearset, a housing case for your particular car, all the ancillary bits and a flash reader to rewrite your ECU programming for the new box.

23
Paddy McGrath

That's a great thought, and something which already is happening. There's that 991 GT3 RS in Florida(?) where the owner went the whole hog on converting to manual.

24
James Steinberg

Someone on Rennlist wrote about it! Its so cool!

25

Seriously.

Years ago, I had a '96 Crown Vic P71 cop car I swapped a 5-speed from a Mustang GT into.

WOKE THE CAR UP.

That manual swap felt like it took 500 lbs off the car and let you make it dance. Well, dance for P71.

26

Aftermarket components could be paired with software to mimic a manual... but it probably won't happen.

27

That's a terrible idea! They are different beasts and what you're feeling is the inertia of parts and forks, linkages moving. The time to develop the software would be more $$ than doing another run of an existing box and I doubt you could replicate the feel anyway.

28

"First and foremost, DSG/PDK-equipped cars shift faster and more efficiently than you or I ever could."
Sure. But that's missing the point. If all you're concerned with is outright laptimes then yes, a DSG/PDK box is going to be your go-to. On the road however where the time 'saved' is irrelevant, a manual gearbox adds a completely new layer to driver involvement, engaging more of your senses and ultimately being more rewarding. Effort equals reward. Otherwise we'd just sit in autonomous cars and let them do the laps for us 'because it's faster'.
I'm not a manual snob though. If I wanted to chase laptimes and go as fast as I could on a circuit, I'd choose DSG/PDK. If I need a car to do domestic duties in, I'd choose DSG/PDK. Most hypercars are better with auto gearboxes because the rate of acceleration and overall competency keeps your brain in overload.
However, what we need as consumers is choice, not one or the other.

Author29
Jordan Butters

To the contrary, I've driven lots of DCT-equipped cars on the road and most felt equally as involved as a manual option would. As for effort equals reward – you're equating that to physical effort rather than driving skill/effort? Should we be starting our cars with crankhandles again?

30

Jordan, sarcasm is not an argument. Effort equates to both the physical skill required and the mental space/attention it occupies, not simply the use of your left/right leg and arm as you implied. No doubt a flappy paddle box can still be rewarding, I’d have most modern supercars like the ones in your article, as DSG/PDK. Would an NA MX5 be as fun to drive as an auto? I’m guessing not. It all depends on the car. We need choice. I like your work Jordan, keep asking these questions.

Author31
Jordan Butters

I did say this in the story Mark - for the right kind of car a manual gearbox is undoubtedly better paired, however the brutish and overly masculine motion of ‘manual or nothing’ that gets banded around is utter crap.

32

Yes you did, and to that point I absolutely agree it's utter nonsense.

33
Matthew Dockery

I used to work as a photographer for a local Volvo dealership. I worked on the new and used car lots as well as a secondhand exotics dealership owned by the same person. During that job I got to drive several fairly modern DCTs, like newer gen GT3s, Gran Turismos, and the occasional BMW product out to location (and some not so modern ones: f355 Berlineta F1, 360 and 480 Spyders, and a few 2000s era Maserati products).

Were they fun?
Sure.

Were they faster than a MT?
Probably (except Maseratis -- the fastest way to ruin a Ferrari motor is to let Maserati stick a transmission it).

But you know what never failed to make my day? Showing up at the used lot to a 2004 Mini Cooper S with a manual transmission. It had nothing to do with speed or numbers or feeling like a race driver. It was just more engaging and connected. The manual transmission single-handedly made the Minis better drivers car in my book.

34

Right now, I've got a 95 850 Turbo sedan I'm collecting the swap parts for.

I love that car and will never get rid of it but with almost a quarter-million miles, it's time for it to be a project car.

Right now, the parts for the swap are scattered about my place, with the transaxle itself sitting prominently on my kitchen counter, next to my sink.

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35

Comment deleted

36
Paddy McGrath

I've no issue with people voicing their opinions, but at least have the courage to do it with your regular account and not a lazy re-reg.

37

And deleting my comments is your take on the matter?
Come on step the fuck up...
You KNOW i'm right and that's WHY you deleted my comment...

38
Paddy McGrath

I deleted your comment (under a different username) because you can't seem to act like a grown up. Notice all the other comments with a similar viewpoint to yours, but presented in an intelligent manner are still there? Yeah, that.

39

hey be nice to paddy, thats a *Speedhunter* your mouthing off to insolent whelp!

40

Of which the insolence came from the said topic that hyped the benefit of the dct/auto's while compltely throwing another aside...yeah "my" bad..

Author41
Jordan Butters

It must be really difficult to operate when a complete stranger’s opinion on the Internet upsets you to the point of boiling over all over the place in an uncontrollable mess. Pull yourself together Bob.

42

I'm a big believer in the idea that certain types of cars SHOULD be difficult to drive, like exotics for example.

Yes, DCTs/automated manuals/Tiptronics/slushboxes by any other name are easier to drive and faster to shift, but that's not really the point.

Nevermind the driving fun factor this time. At the top of the automotive spectrum, cars are about exclusivity.

That's why the top of the automotive heap should all be manuals only.

What's more exclusive than not only being able to afford some hilariously overpriced, self-propelled monument to the strength of your bank account, but being able to actually drive it as well?

43
Paddy McGrath

There's also the consideration that dual-clutch transmissions can seemingly deal with more torque than traditional manual boxes. It's why there's no manual option for the GT2 RS, as an example.

I also suppose that in today's litigious society, it's why cars like the GT2 RS are much easier to drive (according to those that have driven it) when compared to similar models from decades ago.

44

How I see it:
1 daily/work small car automatic (i'll even dare to say electric), even though i have a 1.4L manual in a county where a 100Km takes 4 hours.
2 sporty car / fun to drive car (maybe 200 to 500 HP taking into consideration the drivetrain layout and the weight) manual all the way
3 track beast with scary power numbers and only used for track will be DCT (could be sequential in case the clutch is needed or for sake of weight reduction).
Each transmission has its own advantages and can't be the only solution for everything, imagine a lady taking the kids in a 7 seater manual transmission, or a DCT in 1.0L car,.... and so on.

45

I'm so keen on an electric commuter. Have a body aside to start on too! Cheap fuel, easy maintainance and being able to work on my "fun" car all week not just overnight and back together for the work trip in the morning? Yes please.

46

wow.
I guess it's only fitting for the next SH feature to open with:

Stretch Your Tires? Maybe We Don't Need To

Paddy, I see your point about striking a balance between quality and quantity...this article is not helping :)

47
Paddy McGrath

I think an OpEd is appropriate from time to time to see how our readers feel about certain things. When you get past the hysteria, there's often some really good insights and opinions to be found.

Author48
Jordan Butters

It’s also a really good way to poll how many people have never driven a car with a good DCT system.

49

look man,i get it that you can't drive stick..so you resort to saying that automatics/dct's are better than manual..
kys...

Author50
Jordan Butters

Sorry Bob, I've owned nothing but manuals. here in England it's what most of us drive.
As for telling me to 'kill myself' – really? You're that guy? Instead of deleting your childish comment I'm just going to let it sit so others can see how adults shouldn't behave.

51

I don't care if dct is faster after 30 laps. Manual is more fun and enjoyable. If I am having a better time driving around a track, and having the satisfaction of perfectly blipping my shifts. Why would I want to drive something less fun and rewarding???? It's like playing only the tutorial of a racing game with all of the nannies on. Instead of playing on hard mode.
Or one vulgar analogy. It is like someone else sleeping with your partner because it is faster, and no satisfaction or reward for you.

Author52
Jordan Butters

From driving the blue RWD R8 in the images above I can promise you it’s still both fun and rewarding - does it look like I’m playing the tutorial? Seriously - that car with a manual gearbox would honestly be no better, possibly worse. And yes, that’s a terrible analogy.

53

wow, a lot of people pissed off about the article.

From where I stand, I completely see your point. It's not about lap times, because let's be honest no one EVER will track a completely stock TTRS (for example). Some cars are better with a stick, some are better with an automatic. I feel like people are pissed because they can't choose in some cars today and I get that. But then again, cars that are seldom offered by an auto (usually) are cars that just aren't made for a manual box. People in the M3/M4 forums for example are torn by it - many swear by the manual but there's also a decently sized group that thinks the manual just isn't good enough for the turbocharged engine. Especially when you consider day to day driving (and being from Chicago, traffic), some cars just aren't useful with a manual. It works both ways though - imagine putting the best DCT/PDK/Whatever in a STI or even a GT86. Those cars are made for "old school" driving. The new Audi RS lineup especially, those are engineered to be balls to the walls in any condition you throw at them. Having them with a manual would be fun and I see that, but it just isn't what those cars were made for.


We can either unite and get a 10/10 handling car that outperforms everything every other car in every case whether it's drag or autocross or offroad or flying to the moon but let's be realistic - that's pretty much impossible.

54

I've seen a stock TTRS at the track...

55
Paddy McGrath

I feel like people are pissed because they can't choose in some cars today and I get that.



I think you might have just hit the nail on the head.

56

Exactly i didnt have a choice :(

57

Hang on. Why will no-one track a stock TTRS? I for one will.

58

Speaking of the M3, the SMG was a very advanced gearbox but none (let's say majority of users) had the knowledge and skills thus it was a bad decision.The technical side was good but the long term, massive market use failed. Let's see the upgraded DCT what will do after a couple of years, the technology is better but nobody will know.

59

Next article will be on the autonomous Audi with DSG and how awesome it is to an Audi photoshoot at Wörthersee.

“Time saved” is irrelevant (and possibly dangerous) on the open road. Manual is about engagement and driving, auto is about commuting. For white goods like an Audi (even an RS) on PCP, yeah throw in the DCT. For track tools or really high performance cars (sold on money rather than skills), DCT make sense. For the rest, manuals do just fine. Those talking about DCT for traffic should just get an Uber or an autonomous car then, it’s “even better”.

Author60
Jordan Butters

Sorry, a faster gearshift is dangerous on the road? How do you feel about adding horsepower?

61

Jordan, please re-read my comment. I’m talking about about “saving time” while on the road. If one is focused on saving time while driving on public roads, where there are other people, pedestrians, I’m afraid that’s inappropriate and dangerous. Saw what happened in Manchester on Thursday night?
On the road, faster gear shifts make 0 difference to the speed of your commute. Speed of gear shifts only matters when chasing time, which is for the track. DCTs on public roads are first and foremost an element of comfort (not performance), and should been seen as such. Other comments about liking autos in traffic confirms this.
DCTs serve their purpose, no question, but mainly on powerful cars that the majority of drivers can otherwise not handle, and for people who see cars as A-to-B tools and see no value in shifting gears (and who don’t read SH). They also have better fuel experience economy. But is it why we should not save manuals?

Same applies to horsepower. You cannot use most of it on the open road, except for a sneaky blast at 3am when no one is around. With greater power comes great responsibility.

And ok, I plead guilty and apologise for trolling a little on the autonomous Audi (turned out it was an EV only) and the Uber thing.

62

2 full seconds to shift? I can't beat a PDK but 2 seconds is a lifetime.

Author63
Jordan Butters

Clutch in, shift across the gate (not straight up/down) and then clutch out. I bet it’s not far off. Especially if you’re granny shifting and not double clutching like you should, Brian.

64

I've timed my upshifts at the track using video. It's 1/4 of a second.

65

Turns out I totally missed your reference lol

Author66
Jordan Butters

No worries :D

67

Jordan.
Film yourself shifting and time it. 2 seconds is forever! You work with cars and think it takes 2s to shift?
Right now my syncros don't mesh well (need new trans oil) and 1 second would be a lazy shift. Flat shifting - easy 5 times faster.
Speaking to the maturity of the article + comments - it is noticed when the author gets defensive to any opposing thoughts. Most on here have disagreed with you in a conversational way but you come back in a low-key snarky way? Unbecoming behaviour.

Author68
Jordan Butters

Maybe you took my tongue-in-cheek response in the wrong way.

69

Maybe I did. Maybe I'm touchy that my 'box is running so shit right now that double clutching isn't a bad idea lol

70

FYI. That double clutch line Jordan used on you is from the Fast and Furious movies. Also a main character's name is Brian :)

Author71
Jordan Butters

I knew someone would get it.

72

Damn I missed the punchline!

73

PDK is "better" in a time etc measure but if I wanted a fast car I wouldn't drive a '92 Corona lol.
Manual is, well, more manual. I'm involved and doing it AND I can work on it. I can't roll anything PDK equipped into my garage and make it better with my own hands. I can take my old Toyota and fit Lotus brakes up front, spec my own spring rates etc (have fitted all new suspension, brakes, bushings - everything under the car is new and functional).
Is my car then a measurably "better" car? No it's slower than any modern car, has a poverty spec suspension layout blah blah but I can set it up to interface with me in the way I like.
Can PDK invalidate manual boxes? Can the space shuttle invalidate a glider? The rocket is faster measured but offers no comparible interface. If you titled this "PDK can replace manual for speed" then no issues. Can it replace a stick? Nope cos the stick is gone.
end rant. sorry

Author74
Jordan Butters

"I can take my old Toyota and fit Lotus brakes up front, spec my own spring rates etc (have fitted all new suspension, brakes, bushings - everything under the car is new and functional)."

You can do all that to a DCT-equipped car too, right?

75

No I can't at this stage work on ferrofluid dampers, re-integrate ABS and pad wear sensors to other parts etc. I could make it possible but that becomes programming and R&D. I want to work with the machine.
So the answer - that you should know already - working on a MK7 Golf, Ferrari, Maseratti etc (PDK cars) is harder than a 1992 Toyota.

Author76
Jordan Butters

This is more related to the age of car and technology used rather than specifically the discussion we are having here about gearboxes, but I see your point.

77
Paddy McGrath

For me, it comes down to the right gearbox for the right application. There's good and bad in both camps, too, which needs to be taken into consideration as well. I've drove an M2 with DCT and felt the gearbox let the experience down. I've drove manuals where the throw and engagement was so vague, it felt like stirring a pot of honey.

I just try to take things on a case by case and drive them before making up my mind. Some will surprise you, some will confirm your suspicions.

78

Agree with you completely here. Currently drive a Golf R with a DSG and it's flat out one of the best cars I've ever had. Easy to drive in traffic, fun when you wa t it etc.
GT86 before that was manual and absolutely no way I would say anything else would be right for it. That said the gearbox on my EP3 type R was a peach but I think a DSG type box would have suited that down to the ground.
Horses for courses

Author79
Jordan Butters

Get out of here with your logical reasoning. Where’s the angry, ill-thought out rant?!

80

Please let me ask you both, in particular you Jordan since you use your RS4 as do-it-all car: if you can have only one car, would you choose manual or DCT? And please, no “it depends on the car”.

81
Paddy McGrath

If I could only have one car, it would be an RS6, so it would have to be a DCT.

In saying that, I'm considering my next project car at the moment and they're all manuals.

Author82
Jordan Butters

I was hoping no one would ask me this as it’s a difficult question haha! In truth, there’s a romance attached to the B7 as it was one of if not the last manual RS model and it’s an awesome gearbox (Getrag 6spd), however I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that wondered how good it would be with a modern DSG box in it.

83

How about longevity and service? I worked at VW and servicing the DSG's can be very costly; the clutch pack replacement isn't cheap and not really something you could do in your driveway like a manual Z or S chassis.
And the electronics? What happens when the mechatronic units are phased out and no longer available? Are these cars still going to be usable?

Author84
Jordan Butters

Agreed – servicing isn't a DIY job at all. I've changed an S13 gearbox in a carpark before, but then again, I don't think I'd attempt the RS4 one on my driveway!

85
Rod Millington

Paddy,

I agree with the common consensus here that there is no doubt that the dual clutch transmission is by far and away much faster due to inspiring confidence, increasing driver focus on other areas and speed of shifting. But, it will never be as engaging and I always have the one example of this:

A manual M235i is my daily driver and often I have frustrating days at work and I need to let off some steam before I get home. You simply CANNOT shift a DCT in a satisfyingly angry way. No matter how fast you accelerate and brake, you're still just click clicking away at a paddle which can never give the tactile feedback needed to be gratifying.

That alone kills any automatic/DCT for me for every day duty. I want my commute to involve me rather than just be 20-30 minutes of wasted time.

86
Paddy McGrath

I completely understand you, thus my comment on the DCT M2 I wrote earlier. It's entirely dependant on the car.

87

I bet most Speedhunters don't do track time. Saving milliseconds here and there means nothing on the streets. Personally I can't stand DSG Farts.
#StickTillDeath

Author88
Jordan Butters

Quite a few of us do. THere's at least three DCT SH cars that see the track on a regular basis.

89

I've driven both, and I can honestly say that I STILL prefer a manual transmission over a dct. It all depends on what you'e doing with your car. If I buy a car that is going to see the track and only for grip driving AND competing then yeah, a dct would be the plan, but if i'm buying a daily sports car, I want it to be manual. I like actually enjoying the car and not just holding on to the steering wheel and hoping for the best. DCT is great and all but its not the end all be all, I owned a 335i stick and I would be ten of them if I had the choice over an auto any day. I've driven the new Panamera Turbo and the dct is great, but its just "great", theres nothing spiritual or really fun about it, its just like, leave it to the computers to take you for a ride. Not the type of drive I want when I leave work or feel like hitting some canyons

90

Alright, look. I know why Audi and BMW are moving towards fast-shifting DCTs for their performance models.
But you should understand the reason why car companies like Toyota, Honda, BMW, Dodge, Ford, Cadillac, TVR, Skoda, etc. would still make manuals. I would still get a manual for a brand-new M3/M4, Golf R, Accord, Vantage, Camaro ZL1, Corvette ZR1, Challenger SRT8, Mustang 5.0, A4/A5, and Cooper S. And there are some cars like the Civic Type-R, Miata, GT86, Focus ST/RS, Fiesta ST, GTI, WRX/STI, and Viper that are only good for manuals. I like the new PDK transmissions in supercars but I would love to pick a used R8, F430, or Murcielago with that nice 6-speed manual. And maybe go old school with the Skyline GT-R and first-gen NSX. Or maybe get a used S4 or RS4 with the manual too. Man, I wish that Lexus and Acura still made manuals for their base models and maybe for even performance models. Even Aston Martin says that along with EVs, manuals are the future too. You need to realize why some car companies known for hot hatches, sports cars, and supercars would still have that manual option. #savethemanuals

Author91
Jordan Butters

Agreed - it’s entirely down to the type of car (I kinda said this too). But manuals are no longer THE only option for a performance car. DCT systems have so little in common with the old Auto boxes that people associate them with.

92
Jason Bondhus

I got my first 'auto' two years ago. I thought I would NEVER buy one. MkVII GTI with DSG is amazing! I don't think VW even wants anyone to get a manual, what with those loose feeling, rubbery shifters and limp D clutches.

For a small, lightweight sports car (miata) I want a manual but for everything else I have converted.

93

I have a Miata and a MKVII GTI with a manual. The shifter in the GTI is perfectly fine and I enjoy using it. It's also no problem in Bay Area traffic.

94

Same here, a few years ago I would have laughed at the suggestion but now after 18 months in a DSG golf R I'd never go back to a manual for a daily driver.

95
Jason Bondhus

Oh man...you have the 'R'?

When I got the GTI a little over two years ago I rationalized getting the DSG because I share this one car with my wife and we live in LA. It's one of my favorite things about the car now. Just cruising at low speeds I love the DSG!

I get annoyed with all the 'too much money for a Golf' talk. The Golf R is closer to a supercar than a MK1.

Author96
Jordan Butters

There’s honestly so few people who have actually driven a DSG that don’t like it that it makes me think that most of the naysayers have never tried one.

97

Comes down to value for me. Manual is cheaper to maintain, modify and much easier to work on. I have plenty of options for clutches, gear sets and shifters. I want my car custom tailored to my driving style and manuals offer that.

Author98
Jordan Butters

Fair point on the first part. On the flip side to the second – DCTs can be mapped to act exactly as you want without changing a single mechanical part.

99

now i do love a dct and i think its one of the best things about the r35 gtr but in a 997 gen2 gt3rs that manual box is so beautiful , im gutted they only spec a pdk now but if and when i get a gt3 or gt2 il be converting it to three peddle.

Author100
Jordan Butters

Have you tried a PDK-S box? Those things are insane and make the regular PDK look a bit prehistoric.

101

Iv not yet but im sure i will soon. its not that i dont like the pdk its just i would prefer a manual in that car or maybe a sequential. iv drove all types of gearboxes in cars, trucks, tractors and i know porsche build what i think to one of the nicest manuals when they want to .

102

Don't recall ever posting here before but I had to post today to tell you you are wrong, It's not wrong to like DCTs. But it is wrong to say that there would ever be a reason to give up on real manuals. I would never own a car with a DCT for the same reason I would never own a car with any kind of electric propulsion: they make me sad.

Author103
Jordan Butters

Thanks for reading, but remember an opinion can’t be wrong.

Maybe I put my views out there a bit strongly, but this is the counterargument to the popular point of view that manuals are the ONLY way in a performance car.

104

But there is a huge difference ("in my opinion") between saying "manuals are no longer THE only option for a performance car" and "Save the manuals? maybe we don't need to". It's like agreeing for comanies to stop producing manual gearboxes. And that's just taking away a choice for many of us, who - out of pure pleasure, nostalgia, mechanics, older age ;) or whatever - still prefer to throw that stick. Since when having a choice is not worth fighting for?
That's my only problem with this article. The "flashy" title. I like to think most of your target group actually like to read and you don't have to use that kind of a "click bait" to get our attention.
Cheers!
Cheers!

105

I swear that if speedhunter continues to let these millennial or Gen Z or what ever these breastmilk hoarding kids are called write these articles i am going back to motor trend with people that have some real insight

Author106
Jordan Butters

Firstly, if you're going to make personal attacks then you're not welcome.

Secondly, this is called an OPINION piece, the clue is the name. If you've got something interesting to add rather than throwing all your toys out of the pram then please feel free.

Thirdly – I wish I was Generation Z. I'm only a millennial by a hair.

107

I'm gonna voice an unusual opinion here: manuals for dailies, DCTs for the track.

I find changing gears on track to be a bit of a distraction. I've broken my concentration missing shifts, preparing to downshift, thinking about what gear I'm in and where I want to be, etc more times than I can count. if I could just pull a paddle to go up or down one, that'd be a godsend. engagement is a red herring on track - I am plenty engaged picking my line and braking points, managing point-bys, looking for corner stations, etc. driving on track is a matter of coordinating decisions and timing, and I find it to be much more of a mental activity than physical. steering is physical, but it feeds back information about the tires. shifting, by contrast, feeds back no information needed for anything besides shifting.

but when I'm out on the road hopping between stoplights, I prefer a manual. it gives me something to do while just cruising around getting from A to B. daily driving with an automatic is a bore. I'm not going to suggest that driving manual daily makes me a better driver, but it's a good feeling and, puttering about the Az a-to-b roads, I can spare the minimal mental and physical effort it requires.

I'll grant that stop-and-go traffic with a manual is no fun, but that's about the only daily driver situation in which I'd prefer the automatic. so: manuals for the road, automatics for the track. not an opinion I hear often, but it's the conclusion I've come to.

108
Garret DeWinter

There's two arguments here: one for emotional value and one for mechanical value. From a mechanical perspective, a good DSG is objectively better. But driving a car with a stick delivers a feeling. A feeling like working out, hiking, cooking food for yourself, or building IKEA furniture: it's something you made happen. It's satisfying, not efficient.

Building the Millennium Falcon out of LEGO isn't going to give the most realistic or accurate model of the ship, that's not why I got the kit in the first place, is it?

Driving a DSG makes me faster.
Driving a stick makes me happier.

Author109
Jordan Butters

Well put. For me, DCT systems also give a sense of driving feedback, just in a different way to a manual.

110

Honestly, I respect your opinion and you’re correct in all of what you’re saying but when it comes down to it, the satisfaction of shifting is just there for me. I find clicking a button (pretty much) to be just boring and not satisfying. But that’s might just be me. To each their own I guess.

Author111
Jordan Butters

Well said Ryan.

112

I was a "save the manuals" guy for many years. Then I acquired a McLaren 675 LT. I have never driven a more engaging car in my life. Isn't the goal to access all the capabilities of a car? I was never a paddle shift guy, even in my GT3 RS. But in the LT, as soon as it is up to operating temp, it goes right into manual mode. Maybe it helps that I've had my left ankle reconstructed twice, but I feel no loss of engagement using paddles versus a clutch pedal. I also have a manual 993, and it is equally engaging, but different.

I honestly think it is really an ego question. Yes, we all like to say we can heel-toe with the best of them. We all want to feel better than everyone commuting in their Prius. But if we look past the interface, what is most important? Often times, the people saying "save the manuals" have never driven a proper DCT/PDK/F1/Whateverthefuck car.

I've driven a lot of cars in my day. All I want is to get the most out of them. Just my $0.02. Thanks for a very thought provoking article.

113

The reality is heel toe is not hard at all. I mastered it by the time I was 17. Most guys who drive manual are hacks at best. Agree with the ego bs.

Author114
Jordan Butters

Nail. On. Head.

You only have to read through some of the comments to witness the egotistical view that ‘stick shifting’ is seen as the masculine option.

Many people seem to have glossed over the bit where I said it’s car dependant too, and the whole point was that manual gearboxes are not longer THE de facto option for performance - in many cases they impact negatively on performance.

115

Cars will fracture more and more between fun and fast, the 911R is a great example of fun as is the miata and even the increasingly more capable mustang and camaro - subayota thing is still lame #doublewishbones #diet - fast right now is best occupied by the NSX for drivers, even with it's less than perfect settings it's turning out to be quite reliable and very fast, especially with a light dusting of mods, second being the 911 etc

116

Count me in agreement regarding performance and ease of use. I'm currently driving a '02 IS300 Sportcross, and the automatic (with primitive Manual Mode) makes commuting *far* less painful.

That said, I miss my Miata and its five manual speeds. Terribly. Constantly. Though I lack any real talent as a driver, I still feel like there was the opportunity to add some improvisation to my driving when I had a manual. There was artistry to it, or, at the very least, the *potential* for artistry, if the spirit moved me.

117

They're not better, they're just more fun. I tested out a 997 and a 991 PDK gearbox. I can confidently say that the PDK is the best non-manual transmission I've ever driven. The 997 felt slower to shift than a traditional stick. The actual shift was lightning quick, but the delay between when you hit the paddle and when the shift happened was frustrating. The 991 fixed that issue.

As for me, clutch pedal forever. A perfectly executed, rev-matched heel-toe downshift is a religious experience.

118

No

119

Undoubtedly DCT’s are faster, safer and so on.
I drive it them on a daily basis in my company car.
MT’s are more connecting, involving and so on.
I drive them in my weekend drive and my Trackday car.
But I miss anything on this essay touching the point of when do we stop being sports drivers and race drivers due to over engineering everything. Racecars these Days are already full of adjustable traction controls, DCT, adjustable race ABS. Will there be a day that we can strap a monkey into the seat adjusting the controls to the current requirements?!
A sports driver or a race driver should be showing his skills by being on control of everything by himself...
Just thinking

120

Bit late to the party. Auto/CVT/DCT = daily grind, manual = fun, sequential/DCT/etc = track work/maximum attack.
Nothing wrong with autos or DCT, until they require servicing or something goes wrong. Advantage of the manual gearbox is it's simplicity.

You can also have fun in autos, if they are good ones (e.g. Mazda 3 SP25).

121

Except when are you really going to need a second off your lap time? Sorry but cars are already overpowered for day to day driving. My GTI is already 1st, 2nd, dump to 6th gear on the highway. So it's all about the experience of driving that matters to me. Toronto traffic isn't that bad that it makes a clutch insufferable to use and nothing beats 2nd gear starts in the winter. Sorry but we need to save the manuals.

Rowing through the gears and really pushing a slower car to its limits is way more fun than a Porsche in a parking lot.

122

Personally, I prefer the interaction of Manual. I drive one everyday in Sydney traffic and usually love it. Depending on your views really determines what the preference is. A good auto (dsg etc) will be quicker, and still fun, etc, but misses that link some people place a higher priority on. Some place other values higher and think manuals are old school.

Basically, it’s just different horses for different courses...

If I had the choice (I.e. enough money) I think I’d be very happy with a smart auto as a daily, and a manual “fun” car to enjoy both sides of the fence. That’s just me

123

Your misconception is that everyone wants whatever is fastest, which isn't true at all.

It's why classic cars are still around, why theoretically slow cars have a cult following, hell some people even compromise speed for a drive that suits them.

And so yes, manuals should be saved.

Great if Auto/DCT is for you. But I'm not trying to shave a millisecond off a lap time, I'm happy to compromise that. I just want the great connected, in control, and engaging drive, that a manual offers. Heard of people turning off traction control? Because 'they' want to be the driver, not the car itself.

Ask Porsche why they made the 911 R, which on paper may look like a step backwards from everything.


PS. Manual is still more than capable for track. eg.
Dodge Viper ACR Nürburgring 7:01.3
Camaro ZL1 1LE Nürburgring 7:16.04
Plenty capable.

124

All very valid points, in my opinion, one is n't better than the other, they serve different purposes. Having the ability to choose between a Dual Clutch or a traditional manual is great and it's a shame that this choice is slowly disappearing as the majority of enthusiasts chase the outright performance (understandable for people who track their cars, but let's face it, mostly go for this option for bragging rights).

For someone like me who has a older slow weekend toy and likes to get away from traffic over these weekends, the feel of a manual and being able to heel and toe is perfect. Who needs outright speed when you're on public roads anyway?

125

You forgot to compare the durability (however that varies from car to car and user to user) and cost side of things. Replacing a DSG clutch after using the launch control a handful of times will set you back way more than an old fashioned manual one, in parts and in labour.
Also considering that modified cars have a higher chance blowing their transmission or clutch.
In a daily car (especially in trafic), yes DCT is better no doubt. But what if one day you will find yourself on a nice, empty and inviting twisty bit of road....

126
Paddy McGrath

FWIW, I use Launch Control regularly in mine and the clutch packs were perfect the last time we had them out. Modern DSG gearboxes are surprisingly robust.

127

^ picturing an Irish Paddy launch controlling at every stop light with a Mickeys 40oz in hand.

128

For me, it's the opposite, I don't care about "speed" of my shifting gear on the road, but on the track...

If I could have 2 cars, I think that the PDK car would be for the track, for feeling like a racing driver, I keep the manual for the road, for the pleasure of rev matching and heel and toe, and the implication that's I need, and a better control of the speed (here in switzerland, going too fast send you to jail very quickly).

129

Honestly, I love articles & discussion like this one, whether it's in the online forums, some of our favourite magazines or in this case here on Speedhunters. I had driven both manual and automatics in both regular everyday standard road cars, modified cars and standard performance cars.

I used to be of the opinion manual all the way/manual transmission (or stick shift for the American audience, is life). I've driven my share of outstanding manual and automatic transmissions, but I've also equally driven some really shoddy manual and automatic transmissions. And before anyone says all manual transmissions are created equal, in theory this is true, but in reality it very much isn't, especially when you take into consideration clutch pedal feel, shift between gears and smoothness of the transition between said gears/cogs.

Having to do a daily commute

130

Apologies, clicked "submit" before by accident.

Starting off again...Having to a daily commute on the M25, as most of you know it's the biggest car park in the UK. Having a manual is a pain and puts a lot of stress on your leg and also the gearbox of the car.

My point is there is a place for both types of transmissions. If you want to feel like a part of the process, manual is the way forward. If you drive daily and like to have some fun and feel like a F1 or Race Car driver, dual-clutch auto is the way forward. I currently drive a manual Mk6 Golf GTI. But I know when it sadly comes to part ways (hopefully into another VW or Audi) I'll be looking for the Automatic Variant.

131
Lucien Bouchoum

In my opinion, I don't believe there is a better type of gearbox. It depends a lot of what you want to do with the car, but also what kind of experiences you are searching for.

You can bought a DCT for the daily commute, and objectively, we can say it's the better choice between that and a manual. Like you said, spending time on traffic jam can be really annoying with a manual, with the clutch and your left leg starting to overheat. But the thing is, subjectively, it's kind of a tricky thing.

In my case, I drive a manual gearbox because of 2 things :

- I don't had a huge budget for a car for the daily commute (3k Euros at maximum). And since DCTs are fairly new, I don't have the money to buy one.
- I wanted to drive something that's fun with a minimum of comfort since I was driving a really boring car previously by necessity.

The DCTs can also be fun to drive, but the experience you want is mostly what dictates you to buy this or that type of gearbox. Some will like the smoothness of the DCTs, and the provided acceleration when you decides to smash the floor. Others will like to drive with a 3rd pedal, like an art that is disappearing but you wanted to stay. Just personal tastes in fact.

PS : Sorry if my English is bad. I'm French.

132

I agree that in city driving an auto box is much more comfortable, no question about it, they are faster on the track as well, this has been known for a few years now. Before I go on I need to state that I have driven only a few cars with auto boxes and most of them rubbish so I don't know the feeling of a really good DCT. I personally really enjoy driving a manual rear wheel drive car as a daily, yes sometimes it can be a PITA but I feel like that's the price to pay. I still feel like there are enough people out there to keep manuals alive and as we get more and more electric... as a car guy you will want an "old school" stick shift. At the end of the day I feel like it's all about ones personal preference and what you use the car for. Personally if I could afford one, I'd get a Panamera S (1st gen) with a Manual. Hopefully one day :)

133

People that are trying to save the manual gearbox but are pro cannabis legalization must be suffering from some serious cognitive dissonance.

It's just the next evolution. Were driving enthusiasts upset when the first key ignitions were invented and you could no longer buy hand crank ignitions?

134

Feelings, feelings, feelings....

Everything that is heard these days is: feelings. You have to feel you are something that your TRULY NOT... "On that note, paddles make you feel like a race driver. Fact. The feeling of blapping through gears at pace using just your fingers..." with the press of a button/paddle while cruising at 30mph in traffic. I feel like a race driver!!!...

A real race driver is that one who have full control of the vehicle to squeeze the most out of it. Knowing that every outcomes is either because of the master of his abilities or a mistake that driver made. Not just pressing a paddle to shift gears... Race driver are those who control their vehicle regardless of any electronic assistance, because when a mistake is made, there is room for driver improvement not software update.

Because of that, I'll take manual anytime...

135

Do it and if its class legal I'm going to mop the floor with you in my PDK equipped Porsche. You can go home and tell your friends how much of a real driver you are and I will go home with my trophies and prize money.

136
Andreas Ezelius

My next commuter is probably going to be automatic of some sort. I am getting tired of clutch work in cues etc. With that sid I have a second car which is all about driver involvement and old school simplicity. If possible thats the best solution I think.

137

Slightly more controversial opinion - I think Speedhunters is behind the curve on this one - DCT/DSGs are the worst of both worlds in many cases, and old school Torque Converter automatics are so good now that apart from perhaps supercars, it's better to either have some multispeed slick ZF box like in the Alfa Giulia, or just have a manual for analogue tactility.

DSGs/DCT aren't as smooth or pleasant as a torque converter if you're just pootling round, are more complex and require more maintenance than the other gearbox types. When a ZF Auto is really fast nowadays for the sporty stuff, yet good for the boring stuff, DCT/DSG becomes more of an edge case, and many manufacturers are quietly going back to slushboxes - e.g. the new BMW M5

Give me a slushbox or give me stick, I would be hesitant to buy a DCT/DSG car.

138

I think a key difference is 'sport' versus 'performance' car.

Sport doesn't necessarily just mean a car that is driven hard. Sports, and not just motorsports, have rulesets and overall cultures that dictate how you engage with the sport. For me (and this is a personal opinion) a sports car should have as little driver aid as possible and the demand should be on the driver to be able to understand things like heel-toe, left foot braking, grip limit, etc... as that is the sport of driving.

If any readers are into strength sports then it's kind of like delineating between raw and equipped powerlifting. Sure, with wraps and a suit you can lift more but there's simple pleasure about it being just you and the bare minimum of equipment you need.

139

I really don't see the attraction. In terms of laptimes and 0-60 I agree DSG is faster, but that is not what driving is about right? Its about the Joy of machine, and the interaction between driver and car.
DSG are just for drivers who want the buzz of going fast without the effort. I have driven multiple cars with dual clutch (Audi RS5 being one), and they are fun for about 10 miles, nailing the throttle and accelerating non stop to the desired speed. After that it is a woefully boring experience.
I don't know how you can compare the two on a twisty bit of road? Dropping a gear, exiting the corner and foot down, feeling the grip in the tyres as you pull onto the straight. You simply don't get that in with an Auto or DSG.
I wager that those who are pro DSG are just drivers who have got lazy. I use my manual car for everything, commuting, fast country lanes and occasional track, I get out feeling rewarded and involved. As for the traffic argument clutches now days are not heavy or clunky, they are light and easy to use.
Leave DSG to the big Hypercars where it is needed to protect the expensive engines and gearboxes from rubbish drivers.

140

I own an 08 Vw R32 equipped with dsg gearbox as well as a fox-body equipped with a five speed gearbox and I have to say that I simply get the same amount of enjoyment out of driving either car, although there's a huge difference between the feeling you get from driving either one, I don't think we should count out manual gearboxes just yet. As everyone says, there's just some sort of almost unexplained contentedness with the car when driving a manual gearbox car. Direct gearboxes are a blast to drive and a must have type of experience for track days and curvy roads but its not quite the same. I personally love having the pleasure of owning cars with both.

141

Interesting write up. Surprised to see it here but with the advances in dual clutch it was only a matter of time.

I am familiar with the advancements the VAG group has made over the years in their transmissions and am a happy speedhunter in my MK7 R with DSG. Made the switch from a MK 6 GTI with 6-speed manual back in October. As I am still planning my first track day with the R the DSG has been great in the daily both on the open road and stuck in traffic.

142

I will prefer 6 speed manual gearbox over a 7 or 8 s(tu)peed automatic, because my BMW automatic gearbox sits on 1300 rpm in normal mode driving and when it comes to overtake, I need to floor it to gain the maximum torque, for me that is a shame. Fuel economy is made by the driving style, not from a infinite clutch 99999 speed automatic gearbox, no no, is made by your foot. No matter how many you will argue with me, this is my opinion about automatic gearboxes. Manual stick will remain the reliable one and it won't fail due to the tons of sensors and gizmos around it like in the automatic case

143
ANTHONY EVANS

The first few lines of your article really sum up the point you are trying to make. No doubt you are experienced driving a stick and realize how much fun it can be. I agree that a stick in an R8 or 911 Turbo S or something like that is pointless.

An R8 is definitely more luxury oriented than say a GT3 or something like that so DSG makes sense. However, even in a GT3 I would get PDK. I can drive a stick and have driven all flavors of 911/Cayman/Boxster with stick shifts. Porsche makes some of the best feeling gearboxes but I personally think PDK is the superior choice.

PDK/DSG really allows you to focus on driving whether on the street or track plain and simple. There is only so much you can do in an emergency situation with a stick unless you have the training and experience of a race car driver. I personally do not and I would bet that most people who claim otherwise would be caught out in a hairy situation.

When developing the 991 GT3, Porsche made a stick version and tested it against the PDK version. The PDK GT3 gains half a car length over the manual version with every shift. That is the potential to gain 2.5 car lengths from a 1st gear hairpin corner to the end of a 6th gear straight just by shifting time alone. That adds up lap after lap as you alluded to.

I personally have '10 GTI w/DSG. I wouldn't have it any other way based on my situation. Even if I had a track nearby to do HPDE I still wouldn't want a stick. I can't afford to replace my engine or worse if I miss a shift or something like that while hooning about.

You are correct about certain cars being better suited to being manual. A '55 Chevy resto/pro mod build should absolutely have a manual just because. A BRZ/GT86 or Miata should be manual all the way. They are so light and relatively underpowered that their speed potential is exponentially less than a McLaren 675LT for instance. My current favorite car is the Ariel Atom/Nomad, only available as a stick and I plan to have one someday.

What bothers me is the way people talk about somebody who doesn't want a stick in everything under the sun or don't want one personally. Being called less of person just based on personal preference is ridiculous.

144

It's not about whether these types of gearboxes are faster than manual shifts ... of course they are. No-one doubts that.

The question is if they are more fun.

Different scenarios there: if you're on the track and your lap times are faster because of an auto box then you could argue "yes, the auto box is more fun because my lap times are faster"

If you're in a canyon or on a beautiful driving road then the fun is probably in the manual box, as you enjoy more of the trip.

Of course if the automotive industry keeps betting on autonomous vehicles, then manuals are history anyway.

145
Shotgun Chuck

What the people who say that DCTs are automatically better because they're faster remind me of is the powergamer or metagamer - the type of video game player who only ever uses the most broken overpowered stuff they're allowed to, no exceptions. If you ever knew someone who mained the space animals in SSBM, then you know the type, but sadly they exist in racing games too. Arcadey games like The Crew and Need for Speed are the most vulnerable to this, but even in more realistic games you'll occasionally see them (i.e. leaderboard car abusers in Forza, or the FWD party that was Gr. 4 in GT Sport until the BoP settings were updated so that cars other than the Megane and occasional Scirocco could be competitive). If the game lets them get away with it, they'll cut corners and grind walls until the path they take barely even resembles the intended course. They do these things because concepts like fun, variety, and honor don't exist in their sad little grayscale world of OP cars and top leaderboard times, and they may not even be interested in cars or driving in real life.

When I hear people hit the "give up on manuals" drum, it sounds a bit the same. Yes, they shift faster, but if you're not racing professionally, then why take all the joy out of driving just for that? In my mind, it's more fun to practice until you can upshift just as fast with a traditional manual, even if you do beat the snot out of your synchros in the process.

Please, stop trying to corrupt and soften car culture. Stop trying to tell us that maybe manuals aren't worth it, or maybe electric cars aren't so bad after all.

147

I currently own a DSG mk7 Golf GTI with my previous 5 cars all being manuals, while I can appreciate how good the DSG is in something like a hot hatch I think a manual is still preferable, they aren't about outright speed but about having fun. If I was buying again I would be buying a manual that's for sure. With modern supercars and even sports cars being so fast a DCT makes sense, I'd argue that they are now too fast for a traditional H-pattern box.

While I enjoy not having to push the clutch pedal when I'm stuck in traffic, it's the other times when I'm just going for a drive that i really miss my third pedal and every time I drive a manual I have a grin from ear to ear. My next car will have 3 pedals again, that's a certainty.

148

Absolutely cracking piece and just what I needed to read after seeing so much hate towards auto/semi-auto. You hit the nail on the head perfectly.

Agreed that there's an extra depth with a manual but the bit that gripes me is how much. People seem to think it's this great big chasm between driving a manual and an auto and yet to me. Driving my DSG doesn't remove from driver involvement all that much. Even if at all. In some ways it gets me more involved because it lets me concentrate on throttle input and control, steering input etc instead of having to worry about keeping gear changes smooth. And I still have to think about gears to make sure I'm in the right one! But like you said. I find nothing more fun than flicking through the gears using the paddles like a hero. It's just so much better to me.

I've loved performance driving since I've had my license but no way would I ever have a manual again assisted by the fact I have arthritis in my left knee - great for a 28yo! Which makes the clutch rather painful under certain conditions.

By the way I found this from your piece on the E30 with an auto box. What a car! Absolutely in love.

Thanks again for this brilliant article. I've not long discovered speed hunters but it really is some of the best reading I've had in a long time. Can't wait to see more of your stuff.

149
Slow Riding Gentleman

When I read this article I was very surprised that someone finally had the guts to write something about it.
And the comment section is exactly what i expected. Loads of petrolheads that prefer manual to automatic and are very keen to express that. Which I respect and understand but don't agree.
I consider myself a petrohead. I've worked on the motorsport industry for quite some time now and 80% of the drivers I know actually prefer DCT transmissions. Guys that are used to drive fast, that know what their doing behind the wheel.
Most of the people that say they prefer a manual gearbox over DCT "because I can feel the car better" Or "Automatic cars take away the driving experience" have no notion of how to approach and exit a corner properly, have no notion of how to balance a car when cornering, have now ideia of braking limits or the optimal rpm shift range... I do understand the points some people made here and I might relate to some.
But if so the electronic injection took away the driving experience, you no longer have to pump the pedal to gain those extra HP, well power steering took away the road feeling or even starters, I miss those good old days of cranking a car to life with a lever! That was a Man-Machine bonding experience.
Of course I don't want a '91 Golf G60 to be DCT as I don't want a 2017 Golf GTI to be manual.
If I can press a paddle and decide to a precision of ms when the car is going to shift why do I need to press a pedal, move a lever, release the pedal and then shift in to gear?
My 2 cents

150

I get where you are coming from and we all have our differing opinions I guess but it was when I saw this episode (Manuals Matter: Porsche 911 GT3 - Carfection) come out that I just sat there saying yes yes yes. This is someone who is speaking my language.

https://youtu.be/oaUCdAdaaj8

Thanks for the article though and for all the great work you guys just keep on doing.

151

I can't argue that a good twin clutch isn't better in every regard. I'll still drive a manual in my fun cars. I find myself shaking my head when a car person can't even drive stick.

152

If we look at strict numbers comparisons on the performance benefits between a paddle-shift transmission and a manual gearbox, of course the computer wins. However, for most of us who do any sort of performance driving, that extra time saved is only useful in the top-tiers of competitive motorsport and hardly useful. More times than not, you can make up more than the collective shift times in a lap by taking different line through a corner or braking a bit later. The human element of driving includes so many variables to where these extreme engineering feats don't really matter in real-world situations.

I've driven a DCT before, and honestly it's just another automatic to me. There's nothing rewarding about the experience, it contributes to less driver engagement and concentration during street driving situations, and the overall maintenance costs on manuals are much lower (not to mention it is easier to service them yourself). They definitely have a place in the market, but not in my garage (i like 1990s japanese sports cars anyway).

153

For clarification, a DSG is a manual gear train as such, pre selector type with automated clutches. Not a new concept but has come into its own with contemporary electronics. As opposed to helical or straight cut gear trains 'automatics' use epicyclic gear trains controlled by clutch packs, they are typically used with a fluid coupling called a torque convertor. These have great advantges with torque multiplication, particularly under heavy loads. No suprise thay these too are benefiting from advances in control technology. Love my DSG, automatics will ecipse it, more potential. Will always prefer my 98 Hyundai accent manual for driving.

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