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Automatic or Manual?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:16 pm    Post subject: Automatic or Manual? Reply with quote

Found this article at

So, for reference reading, i quoted here:


Author: Lionel Kong

Ever since differing transmission types were offered as an option, drivers have been faced with the question: the stick shift or the T-bar? What we are referring to is of course, the difference between manual and automatic transmissions.

There is also what some consider the best of both worlds: the semi automatic gearbox. Ever since the invention of a true electronically controlled Ďsemi-automaticí gearbox (developed to race standards in 1989, and first used in the revolutionary Ferrari F189 Formula One cars piloted by Nigel Mansell and Gerhard Berger), it has trickled down to many road cars, and affordability of this once complex bit of engineering is no longer a question. Supporters claim that it shifts just as crisply, if not even better, than a manual transmission system, and it also has the convenience of being easy to drive when stuck in heavy traffic. Just ask the owners of the current crop of Toyota MR2s out there. Cruising through the series of curves on a highway somewhere, you rise through the gears with the simple flick of a wrist. Braking for the turn, you catch a lower gear with a dab of your fingers as your right foot leaves the brake pedal and prepare to get on the power. The carís computer blips the throttle for you and youíre in gear as you exit the corner. Listening for that sweet roar as the engine approaches redline, you flick your wrist to find the next gear. The next corner appears, and the fun begins all over again. No clumsy clutch pedals, no dancing around on your toes as you attempt to master the heel & toe maneuver needed for a smooth downshift. Just the pure, unadulterated rush of speed.

Then thereís the bog standard automatic transmissions found on most other cars. You know the type, usually with a vaguely ĎTí shaped gear shift, and all the necessary gears aligned in a straight line (or J-gates in Jaguars). P. R. D. N. And depending on the make and number of gears available, D3, D2, and L. Nothing really exciting here, and please donít try to mimic the shifts of a semi-auto box by grinding the shifter through the D2 and D3 slots as you accelerate away like Kimi Raikkonen. These gearboxes werenít designed to be used that way and such abuse will quickly destroy them. Just stick it in ĎDí and do what it says on the lid: drive. The lower selectable gears are used mainly in engine braking situations, and not for overtaking. Should you need a burst of speed, flooring the accelerator will cause the gearbox to immediately drop to a lower gear. While boring to any self proclaimed Ďdriving enthusiastí, the standard automatic transmission is still the best at delivering what itís supposed to do.

But there are those who swear by the feel of a true manual gearbox, complete with clutch pedal. Some may see the pesky clutch pedal as a hindrance in start and stop rush hour traffic, yet there is something satisfying about the precision needed to complete a series of smooth shifts once the speed picks up, and mastery of the perfect heel & toe technique required to execute the perfect downshift as you brake for the corner. Thoroughbred sports cars continue to use manual transmissions and that has got nothing to do with trying to make them more difficult to drive. You choose the gear. You choose when to shift. You choose how fast to shift, and you choose how much of the clutch is slipping at any given moment. You stay in ultimate control. For the truly skilled, this is the only true option for the most involved driving experience.

All up, a manual box is actually lighter and less prone to breakdown when compared to its automatic equivalent. This stems from the fact that an automatic requires much more lubricant and is infinitely more complex. A manual box has a bunch of gears and a manually operated clutch, nothing could be simpler or lighter.

Whatís your poison? There is no right or wrong, just what you want to do with your ride. But please donít buy an automatic Celica and call yourself a driving enthusiast. That would be the ultimate oxymoron.

.: Safety, Handling and Performance - The Art Cycle of Car Modifications :.
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