It’s a pretty straight forward question really, and one that is targeted directly at the automotive enthusiast. Simply stated, which method of shifting gears do you prefer and why? If you grew up driving between 1950 and 1990, than odds are you’ve got some experience grinding the gears in a manual transmission. If however you began playing with high performance cars in the mid-90’s, then it’s very possible that you’ve never thrown a shift in your life. It’s not a bad thing, but a sign of the times that shows us how automotive technology is moving forward. In the past “true” driving enthusiasts drove stick shifts and wouldn’t be caught dead in automatics. The motion of depressing that clutch, throwing a shift and accelerating out of a corner was enough to get the juices of every petrol-head flowing.
As mentioned though, times are changing, and with the advent of new more durable dual-clutch paddle shifted transmissions, we’re finding the demand for the manual is starting to fade. As for me, I can see the appeal of both. Truth be told, there is nothing like nailing the throttle and rowing through the gears on a nice close-set manual. It makes the driver feel like they’re one with the car and provides a visceral driving sensation that is very hard to match. On the downside, manuals suck in traffic and if abused, tend to have more failures.
Paddles on the other hand also provide the driver with a visceral experience, but in a different way. If for instance, you’ve ever driven a car with a really good dual-clutch transmission, something like a Nissan GT-R for example, than you know how much fun it can be when you keep your foot nailed to the floor while you blip through the gears. Plus, you can do this while never taking your hands off the wheel, a big plus in my book.
Honestly, I like both styles of transmission, but for use in different applications. I’d take an nice manual transmission for a car that I drove as a semi-occasional daily driver and or on the weekends. For the track however, I’m all about the paddles. I think they provide you with quicker shift times and more balanced control when you’re driving at the limit. Plus with my size 14 foot, heal-toeing a manual tranny for me can be a total bitch. As always, I’m curious to hear what you think, so post up!