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Old 25 April 2011, 04:59 PM
Die Capacitrix's Avatar
Die Capacitrix Die Capacitrix is offline
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Originally Posted by Roadsterboy View Post
Depends on the kind of car. You'll more frequently find sports cars or other performance cars (something like the Mitsubishi EVO or Golf GTi) with manual transmission on the lot, but fewer sedans (like base model Honda Civics). Lots of cars have the option but it's so infrequently chosen that dealers may only stock one of them with manual.
Manual is the default here, but for sports/performance cars, DSG is a favorite option for the car enthusiasts. It is classified as an automatic but with the paddle shifters gives the driver the option of controlling the shifting. We have a Seat Ibiza Bocanegra with the 7-speed DSG automatic and it's fun to drive. (Yes, we had to wait - mainly because we ordered one the first week it was possible to order.)

But even after a year, I still sometimes search for the clutch pedal.

Add my mom to the can drive manual, but drives an automatic list. After 45 years living in Seattle, she's had enough of that nonsense. On the plus side, someone who can drive a manual in Seattle can drive a manual just about anywhere. On the minus side, it's annoying to drive in downtown Seattle traffic. There are too many people who hold licenses that are not prepared for the challenges of every day driving in Seattle (and many other places).

Today's manual transmissions are less forgiving of a less-than-careful driver. (I had a 68 VW which sometimes allowed me to change gears without the benefit of the clutch.) An automatic allows even a child to get in a car and drive and does not demand the same respect that a manual transmission does. (Even been the first one up at a light, stalled, with a few cars behind you honking the horn? Yes, that's a fun part of the learning experience.)

A newly licensed driver who learned on a manual transmission will be ahead of the newly licensed driver who learned only on an automatic. Experience should even out the difference.
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Old 25 April 2011, 05:45 PM
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Roadsterboy Roadsterboy is offline
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Originally Posted by Die Capacitrix View Post
Manual is the default here, but for sports/performance cars, DSG is a favorite option for the car enthusiasts.
A nitpick, but DSG is a Volkswagen Group-only transmission. You can't get it in, say, a Chevrolet Corvette or Honda Civic Type R. Several manufacturers do offer semiautomatic transmissions, however. I'm not sure if they're "a favorite option for the car enthusiasts" though. I know a lot of people who would rather have a proper manual transmission than one that offers only partial control.

It's down to which compromises you are willing to make. Do you want an automatic mode and shift speeds that are uselessly faster? Then you get a flappy paddle thing and deal with the fact that you may not be able to engage the gear you want when you want it. If you want proper control, a manual is the only option.

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Old 25 April 2011, 06:00 PM
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Diabolus Ex Deus Diabolus Ex Deus is offline
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Originally Posted by fitz1980 View Post
There is also the whole issue of correlation vs causality or "the chicken and the egg" question.

Even if the numbers are true would that mean that driving a stick shift keeps a driver more alert and hence safer? Or is it that skillful drivers are more likely to select a stick shift when choosing a car?

Stick shifts tend to be the transmission of choice for car enthusiasts, the kind of people who understand engines, cars, gear ratios and consider diving to be passion. That's not quite the same as a person who can't figure out how to work a stick shift and only really considers driving to be the only way to get around town (which it is for many in the US) and who's knowledge of cars ends with mashing the gas and pointing the car in the desired direction of travel.
I have to agree that it is possible that particular correlation exists. I have only ever owned cars with manual transmissions because I absolutely love driving. If driving is just a means to an end, driving a manual transmission would just be a huge inconvenience. In my case, the manual transmission puts me in better control of the car and quite literally links my movements to the performance of the car. This is the kind of thing that demands more attention and likely reduces the chances of being distracted.
Since there's no real evidence one way or the other from what I can tell, I just have to go by my own experience. For example, both my wife and I have never been in an accident behind the wheel (been driving manual transmission for 12 and 17 years respectively), whereas my brother, who has never owned a manual transmission car, has totaled his last 3 cars (though not at fault, he could have avoided them by paying better attention).
Certainly there is nothing scientific about my anecdote, but it certainly hints at a correlation in my personal experience.
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