Long live the manual gearbox!

Subaru BRZ

It’s a fact of the modern automotive world that the manual gearbox is fast becoming the poor cousin of the double-clutch transmission.

Lamborghini has put a cross through the manual box and worse, the purist’s supercar—the Porsche 911 GT3—is available exclusively with PDK. The same is happening at the cheaper end of the market, too. Even the model name of the new Clio RS 200 EDC (efficient double clutch) tells us there’s no manual here.

The end is nigh.

Steve Sutcliffe from Autocar has taken a look into this phenomenon and found that, in the UK at least, the manual ‘box still lives large. A whopping 75% of all new cars sold in the UK last year was fitted with a “proper” transmission. Unsurprisingly, the US is in complete contrast with just 7% of new cars having a manual. We expect Australia is somewhere in the middle, with slushboxes and dual-clutch transmissions forming an overwhelming majority.

Autocar went to the manufacturers seeking answers and while mostly predictable, to do with gear change efficiency and fuel economy, here’s a couple of the more intriguing replies (use the source link below to check out the article in full)…

Ferrari chief of engineering, Roberto Fedeli: “Greater integration with all the vehicle’s other electronic control systems – E-diff, F1-Trac, high-performance ABS, magnetorheological suspension – allowed by the DCT has given us even more advantages, not least the ability to build a car that is supremely agile yet controllable on the limit, as well as being more frugal.”

Porsche head of GT car development, Andreas Preuninger: “The ‘simply add lightness’ philosophy to make a car faster, especially the past three GT3 generations, just does not apply any more. Nowadays, systems that add extra speed over-compensate their extra weight very clearly. Purism and performance are no longer inextricably linked. Indeed, they turn more and more into opposites today.

“It’s also vital to note that we built a 991 GT3 with a manual gearbox and ran it during development alongside prototypes with the PDK – and in all cases, both emotionally and empirically, the PDK came out on top. And that’s why we built the car this way.”

Whatever the future holds, we’ll always prefer changing gears by ourselves, no matter how much slower it might be.

[Source: Autocar]