Published at Tuesday, 14 April 2020. manual car. By Marietta Ferrer.
The manual transmission is on the endangered species list. Every year fewer and fewer cars are offered with a clutch and a shifter. Why? Americans just don’t want to be bothered with the chore of working a clutch with their left foot and shifting with their right. And sports car manufacturers are the worst offenders when it comes to quitting on the stick shift. Because the newest computer-controlled automatics can shift more quickly than any human can, engineers see the manual transmission as outdated.
Manual transmissions haven’t seen the rapid increase in forward gears that automatic transmissions have with the rise of eight-, nine- and 10-speed automatics, but cars like the Porsche 911 offer seven-speed manuals rather than the more common six-speed gearbox. What’s the benefit? The extra seventh gear is very tall, which means better gas mileage during highway cruising.
Hill start assist isn’t exclusive to stick-shift cars, but the feature makes it easier to master one of the tougher skills of driving a manual: starting on a hill without rolling backward. Without hill start assist, quick footwork on the gas and clutch — or a hand-operated parking brake applied in tandem — will keep you from rolling backward, but get it wrong and you’ll stall the engine. Hill start assist grants more time to start off by briefly holding the brakes after you’ve released the brake pedal. It’s a common feature on cars as affordable as the Honda Civic and Ford Fiesta.
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