Hey wheres the clutch?!

If you’re a car enthusiast then you’ve driven a manual transmission car at some point in your life. When you started driving in high school, the coolest cars were probably stick shift. There’s no replacement for the connected feeling you get from shifting your own gears. As you grow up though sometimes life gets in the way of what was once awesome. Wife / girlfriend (both?), kids, work, school etc. can all sway us away from what was once a very important part of our motoring life.

Hey wheres the clutch?

Today plenty of people still desire manual transmission cars but not every ones buying them. The reason for that doesn’t stem from their life choices. Aside from the life factors, the cars that come with a manual aren’t always the cars we wanted with a manual. Many manufacturers have ditched the standard shift options on their flag ship cars. The prime example of this is the Nissan Maxima that still sports the 4DSC badge but has its 270 horses connected to a CVT transmission with faux manual gear selection. A car best known as a “4 door sports car” now has no manual option and a cvt.

Almost more annoying for those row your own drivers is when only the base models offer the manual transmission. It’s typical for the 4cyl no frills model to come with a manual transmission but looking for the big motor and perhaps an AWD option? Sorry auto only for you. Looking for leather seats and creature comforts? Nope sorry, can’t have that if you want a stick shift. And don’t even consider an SUV, with the exception of a few cross overs like the Mazda CX-5, none come with a manual. Gone are the days when SUV’s like the Pathfinder and 4 Runner offered real 4 wheel drive with a manual transmission.

Not all is entirely lost though. If you still want to have fun with a practical car then there are some options out there. All though manual transmissions seem to be a thing of the past outside of performance cars and econo boxes, automatic transmissions aren’t as boring as they use to be. You won’t be able to use a clutch and hammer gears but with a little modern technology auto transmissions can still excite on our daily commute. A sedan like the Infiniti G37x comes with 328hp behind a quick shifting 7 speed and optional paddle shifters. Many cars are also following this trend of more gears, faster shifting, and paddles. The 2011 Acura TL added a 6th gear to its automatic for better fuel mileage and slightly better performance. Coincidently the TL is one of the few full size sedans still offered with AWD and a manual transmission.

Match a quick shifting automatic with AWD, traction control, and launch control and you’ve got a car that can sky rocket off the line before most can even think about letting the clutch out. So while we may never see cars like the Maxima or 4 Runner get a manual transmission again, the automatic offerings to come won’t be that bad. Keep your options open next time you’re out test driving cars, you may be surprised how easy it is to live without a manual these days.

Image Courtesy of ..Stephanie