I am someone who has publicly lamented the decline of the manual transmission. But I’m also someone who has enjoyed the merits of modern paddle shift gearboxes in many different cars.
I find myself very much split on this issue. So lets take a look at the various reasons why shifter paddles are replacing a gear lever and a third pedal in some of our favorite cars, and consider if it really is a good thing or not.
Note: To clear this up right away, by “paddle shift” I mean cars with automated manual gearboxes, either dual-clutch or single-clutch. I am in no way talking about anything like a Toyota Camry with the “sport package”, which has paddle shifters as a marketing gimmick.
1. More versatile on the road. (Having your cake and eating it too)
If you had something like a Lamborghini Diablo back in the mid 1990s chances are you had a lot of fun out on the open road. However, when you got into town and hit traffic, the heavy clutch made driving the car more of a $250,000 chore than an enjoyable way to spend a weekend afternoon. Considering the average speed of traffic on most roads is around 25-30mph, you’d be spending far more time putting along slowly than stretching the car’s legs. It’s a wonder why most owners hardly ever drove their exotic cars.
Today, Lamborghini only offers their cars with a paddle shift transmission. The sales numbers spoke for themselves. Once paddle shift was offered back around 2004, demand for manual Lambos simply fell off.
Paddle shift basically solved all the issues described above with the Diablo. Now, in an Aventador, you can rip your way into town and then just put the car in automatic mode when you hit traffic. You have a car that is a ferocious supercar when you want one, but is also just as easy to drive as a Toyota Camry when you don’t. You are no longer writing a six-figure check to put yourself through misery. And I agree, that is a major plus, especially in cars that had very difficult manual gearboxes like most supercars did.
Continue reading Why Is Paddle Shift Killing the Manual Transmission, and is it a good thing?