Can an Automatic be as much fun as a manual?
Car enthusiasts have been bemoaning the lack of manual transmissions in cars for what seems like an eternity. Every time a new car comes out and it doesn't offer a manual gearbox, it gets shunned by every card carrying member of the enthusiast community.
But guess what? The manual transmission is outdated technology and there are better things out there. It's time to get over it and say bye bye.
Before I get yelled at by all of you, I want to say that we're not too different. I love a good manual gearbox. If a car has one, I'm instantly more interested in it. And let me tell you, nailing a perfectly rev matched downshift instantly makes me smile. I'm absolutely for putting manual transmissions in everything. When I have a little Travis or Travisette running around I'm going to find a way to stick one in his or her Cozy Coupe.
But I am totally against the notion that having a manual is the only way to properly enjoy a car. That is bullshit. Complete bullshit.
'Manual elitists,' as I call them, will shirk the notion that a car without a third pedal can be engaging to drive. They say that it isn't pure, it isn't as much fun, they don't feel connected.
Bull. Take a current Nissan GT-R to a race track and drive it as fast you can. Then tell me it would be better with a manual gearbox. It just wouldn't be. Your corner speeds will be slower, your straight-line speeds will be slower, and your lap times will be slower.
But you say you don't feel engaged? The point of driving a car quickly, either on a race track or a road, is to make it from the start to finish as fast as humanly possible. If you drive a GT-R on track and don't feel engaged, well, then you just aren't going fast enough.
For a long, long time, a manual gearbox was the best way to do just that, to be the fastest.
It just isn't the case anymore. Times have changed, and we enthusiasts need to adapt to it as well. Everyone dislikes someone who repeatedly refers to the past and says "in my day, we did it this way."
That's what we in the enthusiast community are becoming. Nostalgia is our enemy, technology is our friend.
Funny thing is, a bunch of manual elitists probably own an iPod, subscribe to Netflix, and own a smart phone. The rest of their lives evolved, yet they just can't let the manual tranny go.
I see the manual gearbox like a film camera. When digital first hit the scene, it was terrible. People stuck with film. However, over time, digital got better and better and more and more people started switching. It got to a point where the pros and the stubborn were the only ones with film.
And guess what? Now even the pros use digital. And much like how they could manipulate film better than the average person, their digital pictures are that much better.
It's the same case here. Give a Porsche 991 with a PDK gearbox to two drivers, one great, one not so great. The double clutch transmission will not suddenly make the bad driver a God. He'll still be a mortal. The good driver will be able to manipulate the gearbox better and get the most out of it. He'll still be faster.
And that's where I think a lot of manual defense comes from: fear and snobbery. People think they're members of an elite club just because they know how a clutch works and can heel and toe. Guess what? You're alienating possible enthusiasts by being that way.
As enthusiasts, we should want to welcome everyone, not be scared of others suddenly being better at driving than us. First off, they won't be. Secondly, more competition for the fastest time is better. It's more fun. And having people interested in driving faster makes more enthusiasts. Giving them access to the tools to be quick breeds enthusiasm.
With people caring less and less about cars, we need to make more enthusiasts. We aren't helping by lambasting anyone that can't drive a manual gearbox.
By making exciting cars more accessible to people that may not be as skilled creates passion. Passion builds bonds. Bonds create friends. That's what we need in the enthusiast community.
What we don't need is snobbery and fear of the new.