Hot Manual-Only Rides

A look at some new and recent rides that only came with a manual

Manual transmissions are dying. In general, shoppers have little interest in them, and advances in transmission technology have made the automatic the transmission of choice for performance and fuel efficiency, even in today’s high-performance cars.

Simple fact: in many cases today, a manual transmission is heavier on fuel, and reduces performance. No manual transmission can match the efficiency, performance and gear-shift speed of many of today’s advanced automatics.

God gave most of us two hands and two feet, and as a matter of preference, many folks still use all of these to drive. If you’re driving a car with a manual transmission now, you are a magnificent human being, and part of an ever-rarer breed of driver.

Here’s something for you: a list of cars available now, or available lately, that came only with a proper manual transmission.

Honda Civic Si: For ages, Honda’s VTEC-equipped go-fast Civic variant came just one way in the gearbox department: with a proper stick. Newer models get a super-slick, short-throw six-speed box driving a limited-slip differential that spins the front wheels—providing fantastic control and a great physical connection with the high-revving four-cylinder engine. Want an automatic on your Civic Si? Too bad. But not really: the feel of this six-speed manual is one of the best out there.

Audi RS4: All hail its majesty of rip-snorting super-duper sleeper sedans, the Audi RS4. This over-the-top, under the radar rig was only sold here for two years, and you’ll be shopping the used market for one, if at all. Audi installed a throbbing 4.2 litre V8 with 420 horsepower and a redline of eight-freaking-thousand revs, along with a a proper six-speed stick that got gear ratios so tall you could rip it into second to pass an 18-wheeler on the highway.

Ford Focus ST: This world-class, turbocharged hot-hatch model boasts grippy Recaro seats, a centre-mounted exhaust, killer body kit and moves as good as they come in a front-drive ride, thanks to the control-blade suspension, torque-vectoring control, and other high-tech engineering witchcraft. High-tech handling is great stuff—especially when it comes with low-tech shifting via the exclusively-available six-speed manual transmission. This one’s beefy and solid: the clutch holds power and doesn’t feel like it’s made out of runny poutine. The Focus ST does plenty for the driver when they push it hard, but shifting the gears isn’t one of them.

Dodge Viper: The Viper does little for its driver other than make frightening acceleration, frightening G-forces, and noises that’ll send nearby children running off to hide beneath the closest staircase. Capitalizing on Viper’s old-school take on ‘do it yourself’ performance driving (older models had no traction control or ABS!) this one continues to be offered only with a six-speed manual gearbox of the manliest variety. Smashing gears in a Viper is a testosterone-laced workout for your quads and biceps, and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Subaru WRX STI: God bless you, Subaru. You’ve created the ultimate Canadian performance car, and the unofficial car of snow-drifting around the Wal Mart shopping-cart return after the lights go off. You’ve also kept the breed pure by sticking to your guns and making sure everyone enjoys the STI’s turbocharged boxer engine, and all of its cool boxer exhaust noises, while rowing their own gears.

Mazdaspeed 6: Remember this machine? Of course you do, because you’re a champ. The go-fast, AWD-equipped version of Mazda’s first-generation 6 was called the Mazdaspeed 6.  This car amounted to a turbocharged, surface-to-surface missile disguised as a family sedan. It came with everything: Bose audio, heated leather, smart-key system, a sunroof, navigation, xenon lights with leveling function and more. We’re glad that Mazda forgot just one feature: the automatic. Look for this ride in the used market exclusively with a beefy six-speed manual.

Shelby GT500: “Dooooop!  DooooooooOOOOOPPP!!  DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPPPPP!” Hear that? It’s the sound of a supercharger the size of a bar fridge cramming compressed air into the Shelby GT500’s V8 engine and making silly amounts of horsepower for your entertainment. You’ll be calling the shots, too: this historically-rooted go-fast Mustang isn’t the kind you buy your daughter before she heads off to college: it’s face-peeling fast, silly-powerful and only comes with a chunky and tough six-speed manual.

Ferrari F40: Dear Ferrari: thanks for being Italian, being pretty awesome, and making cars we listen to on YouTube when the boss is distracted by the Keurig for his fourth latte refill this morning. Thanks, also, for the F40. We love its little boosted V8, how the exhaust sounds like a Velociraptor about to munch on some frightened schoolgirls, and the mental image of ripping through its gears like Christmas-morning wrapping paper.

Story originally published via Halifax Chronicle Herald