Jeremy's Thoughts On Driving A Manual

it Seems Age Has CHanged Jeremy's Mind On Manual Transmissions

3y ago


About a week ago, our favorite automotive television host Jeremy Clarkson reviewed the new VW Golf GTI for The Sun, which for all intents and purposes, seemed to be the same as the old one. Coming from Jeremy, who thinks of the old Golf GTI as the best hot hatch in the world, that's high praise.

But this isn't about that review. I'm sure it was a thrilling read and if you really the full experience, you can click on the link at the end of this piece.

What I want to talk about is a blurb in the middle of Jeremy's review involving his current thoughts about driving a manual:

"And then I noticed the gearlever. And the clutch pedal. And I thought: 'No. I’m sorry. It’s pouring with rain.

The traffic is going to be dreadful and life is too short to be using my left leg every time I want to set off.'

It’s strange. Not that long ago, I was very much in the manuals-are-for-men camp. I saw the automatic and the double-clutch alternatives as a sign of weakness.

Now, though, I reckon buying a manual is like buying a television that has no remote control. Who says: “I like getting out of my chair to change the channel?'"

You guys are car guys/gals, and I'm a car guy. I'm sure 9 out of 10 of you, if asked, would say that you prefer a manual (for any variety of reasons). I get it, I'm the same way; there's something about a manual that just makes me feel more connected to the car, like I'm part of a partnership.

But automatics are getting better and better. I own a manual 2015 Mustang GT, and the auto counterpart is faster on the drag strip. Other than the manual simply being more fun, there wasn't any reason for me to choose it over an auto, especially from a performance standpoint. Yet I still love and don't regret my choice.

I take that back; like Jeremy's concerns about driving a manual in traffic and the pouring rain, I had a similar experience. Not too long ago I headed out to San Francisco to get some pictures of my car at Twin Peaks. About halfway there, it started raining.

Anyone who has driven the streets of San Francisco when it's packed bumper to bumper with traffic knows what a nightmare it can be even in an automatic transmission car. The part of the city I was driving through was comprised of steep hills; I mean STEEP hills. I'm talking Steve McQueen, Bullit steep.

It was a nightmare. I was stuck for over an hour trying to get to my destination. I stopped on streets that felt like they were pointing straight up into the sky, with the car behind me millimeters from my bumper. The roads were soaking wet, and every time I shifted into 1st and got ready to set off, I prayed that my tires would actually catch hold and propel me forward.

In that moment, I wish I had an automatic. I made it to my destination unscathed, but even as a manual driving vet, I could have done without that experience. It was way too stressful, and my left leg was sore by the time I returned home.

So here's what I want to know from you readers; not whether a manual is better or an automatic. That's a debate that's no better than Mac or PC, 49ers or Raiders, Xbox or Playstation. There's no right answer to that, especially today.

What I want to hear if what you honestly PREFER and why. Examples of why are encouraged!



Join In

Comments (257)

  • I think the activity of driving manual corresponds with its very function: it's engaging. I find myself doubly alert and conscientious when responsible for gear changes than when drifting in thought and feeling bored in an automatic. It's certainly easier, and sometimes even faster to zip around light to light or bumper to bumper in an automatic, but I've found, in myself and others, that too much convenience (i.e., longer durations) inevitably leads to ignorance and poor judgement. The most skilled, knowledgeable, responsible, and grateful drivers I know drive manual transmissions [more frequently], and so I believe MTs simply make for better driving, and better drivers - perhaps, minutely, even better character. Long live the stick.

      3 years ago
  • "Changing gears [manually] is a vital form of self expression" - Richard Hammond

      3 years ago
  • I don't know what to think, personally I can't get my head around the fact that jezza is reviewing anything for that shit rag paper The S*n- Jeremy you do not need the money so please refrain from doing any work for that hatred filled piece of shit paper, thanks.

      3 years ago
  • " I'm sure 9 out of 10 of you, if asked, would say that you prefer a manual". You bet I would... The only reason I chose S-Tronic on my last car was because Manual gear is not even an option anymore for Audi R/S cars in France !!!! :(

      3 years ago
  • Manual is like a faithful marriage: full commitment from both parties. Also manuals makes you feel engaged while driving, especially on this era where people are too busy looking at their social feed or making calls. On a manual, there has to be 100% full commitment: you will use both hands and feet regardless.

    Good thing about manuals: that's an anti-theft device! Long live the H patterns!

      3 years ago