I suppose at this point, I must observe that the sun is setting on manual transmissions. As it should. In an era of quick-twitch mechatronics—of continuously variable transmissions, 8-speed dual-clutch transaxles, 9-speed automatics with torque converters—using a series of steel linkages to engage and disengage gears while levering the clutch in and out of the way with your foot? It is barbaric. Sentimentalists argue that semiautomatic and automatic systems are uninvolving to drive. You want involving? We should go back to wooden wheels and cable brakes.
Look, I only read the writing on the wall. I didn’t write it. Manual transmissions are, for example, slower than modern automatic and dual-clutch transmissions. Around a road course, a PDK-equipped, paddle-shifted Porsche 911 will steadily walk away from the exact same car with some stick-shifting yokel in the driver’s seat. As hybrid and electric parts take up a greater percentage of powertrain duties, gearboxes themselves will become obsolete.
Manual trannies are also less fuel-efficient than other cog-swappers, and rising fuel economy standards will only marginalize manual transmissions further. The percentage of new light vehicles sold in the U.S. with manual transmissions is in the single digits. Meanwhile, only a small and aging segment of the driving population even knows how to drive a manual transmission. Go ahead, leave the keys in it: A car with a stick shift is practically immune to theft.