Sunday, January 11, 2015

Automatics also get some credit. Right?

I recently wrote a post about traditional manual transmissions in our cars and how there is something special about them. Traditional Manual Transmissions - Why? What's so special about it? 

I need to slightly re-evaluate. 

Having driven cars with regular automatics, shiftable automatics, double-clutch automated manuals and traditional manuals, I want to say that automatics in general deserve more credit than they do. Automatic transmissions changed the car industry when they were introduced. At first the automatic transmissions were not efficient from both economy and performance points of view. However, manufacturers have invested a lot of engineering time into this technology and we are at the point now where a car with an automatic transmission can achieve better gas mileage than the same car with the traditional manual transmission.

When it comes to performance numbers, we also reached the limit which allows a regular driver driving an automatic out-race a regular driver driving a traditional manual. The automatic transmissions also give you consistency.

On the other hand, the subject of being engaged as a driver with an automatic vs. manual is a very hot subject. It is a constant discussion/debate among car enthusiasts. I think this subject is not up for a debate. It is a personal preference from driver to driver and from car enthusiast to car enthusiast. 

For those who still prefer a manual transmission (including myself at this time), we still have to admit that automatic transmissions (also automated manuals) on sporty and sports cars are very engaging. I mostly owned cars with manual transmission and my previous car was a Mini Cooper with a shiftable automatic. I really enjoyed this Mini Cooper. I drove this car pretty much 99.9% in the tiptronic mode. Mini really tuned this transmission. In the sport mode, this transmission had very fast upshifts and downshifts. It was really fun taking it on canyon roads doing those upshifts and downshifts. The only modification that I had on this car was a custom Magnaflow cat-back exhaust. This tiptronic transmission paired up with a nice exhaust tone gave me satisfaction for 3 years. Then I started missing traditional manual transmissions. I sold my Mini Cooper and bought a Honda Fit with a traditional manual transmission. I had to first go through the honeymoon phase driving this Honda Fit and then I had to objectively analyze the situation and my conclusion was that "Automatics should get the credit that they deserve and that it is not all about manuals". 

Mini Coopers have regular automatics that allow you to shift gears. 997 models of Porsche 911 also have regular automatics and they are very tuned. I drove my friend's Porsche 997 automatic with manual shifting capabilities and this is very fun. When you start getting into the category of automated manuals (aka double-clutch transmissions), then automatics deserve even more credit. I drove my friend's VW GTI with DSG transmission. This thing is very enjoyable. The shifts are especially engaging when paired with a nice exhaust tone. I don't want to even think about PDK transmissions on the new Porsches; they would make me switch back to automatics :)

So the question "which one is better" in itself is a wrong question. It all depends what car it is paired with and what your preference is. Whichever one you pick, make sure that your car does not sit in your garage. Get out there and drive it. Enjoy it.

- -

#cars #PDK #DSG #transmission #clutch #doubleClutch #tiptronic #automatic #manual #shiftknob #gears #gearshifter #5speed #6speed #7speed #8speed #CVT 

No comments:

Post a Comment