Why People Still Buy Cars with Manual Transmissions

Posted by: Taras Trofimov onNovember 25th, 2015

2016-ford-focus-rs-nyias-4

We live in an age where almost everything is automated, as machines carry out tasks with more efficiency and precision than humans. So, when everything is taken care of so conveniently, is there even a reason to do things manually anymore?

Manual transmissions have been on a steady decline for a while now in terms of sales numbers. In fact, only five per cent of new cars sold in Canada had manual transmissions (as of July 2013). Even sports cars with manual transmissions are not doing as well – and we are talking about Porsches, Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston Martins here!

But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t drivers who search high and low for a ride that come with a gear stick. Here are their reasons to do so:

Reason #1: Performance

One of the main reasons to choose a manual transmission over an automatic one is superior acceleration. Manual transmissions don’t weigh as much, have shorter gearing and require less power to function because they don’t do any gear shifting themselves. If you are a beginner, this may not benefit you right away, but if you are an experienced driver, then a manual transmission can provide you with the performance boost you are looking for.

Double-clutch automatic and semi-automatic transmissions are an exception to this since they shift at the speed no living human being can match, but they are still rare. So, unless you procure one of those, then the manual transmission is still the best option.

Reason #2: Driver Engagement

There’s no doubt that driving stick can be a challenge for beginners, especially since most of us are accustomed to automatic transmissions. The challenge is learning how to use the clutch pedal in harmony with the gear shift to switch between gears, and while it’s not always easy, it’s very rewarding when you get to connect with your car on that level. Braking is also easier since manual transmissions don’t come with torque converters, which cause more torque to be transmitted to the wheels once the car is on the move.

Having this level of control makes manual driving more engaging because drivers get to feel “at one” with their cars.

Reason #3: Fuel Efficiency

In the past, manual cars have been more fuel efficient and the obvious choice for many drivers looking to keep fuel costs down. For instance, the base manual version of the 2015 Honda Civic Sedan, the EX 5MT, has a combined fuel economy rating of 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres, while the EX CVT gets 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres. As you can tell, the manual version is superior in this regard.

This is because the automatic transmission uses the torque converter, which is essentially the clutch pedal’s and gear shift’s automated cousin. While torque converters make automatics more convenient, a significant amount of power, and therefore fuel, can be lost to the torque converter as it shifts gears. That being said, as automatic transmissions become more advanced and gain gears, they are starting to surpass manuals in terms of fuel efficiency.

Reason #4: Lower Overall Cost

You can save around $1,000 by choosing a manual transmission car. And while that may not seem like much on a car with a sticker price over $10,000, that’s still an extra $1,000 that you can save.

Maintenance is also less expensive, as manual transmissions are less complicated than automatic ones, and therefore cost less to repair. Transmission fluid doesn’t need to be changed as often, and since most driving enthusiasts are also car enthusiasts, they’ll likely have a good idea of what’s going on under the hood and possibly take care of small repairs themselves.

Reason #5: No choice!

Sometimes, like in the case of the Ford Focus RS there is simply no choice as Ford only sells it with a manual transmission. This is becoming more rare as manufacturers are increasingly moving to dual clutch transmissions and automatic transmissions as standard equipment.

Automated technology makes lives easier, but it also strips us of a certain measure of control over our lives. By choosing a car with a manual transmission, we reclaim some of that control.



is the Content Lead at Unhaggle.com. Unhaggle is a technology and data company that facilitates e-commerce for the automotive industry. Unhaggle provides Canadians with transparent access to information such as invoice prices, current incentives and more. Unhaggle also offers a wide array of pricing tools and buying guides that help consumers find great deals with little to no haggling involved.

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