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Let’s face it, Americans are out of touch with their clutch. A report by Fox News shows that only 10% of vehicles manufactured in North America were equipped with a manual transmission in 2014, and according to the consulting firm IHS Automotive, it is only going to get worse. This is in stark contrast to numbers from 1980, when U.S. auto makers were equipping around 35% of all vehicles with a manual gearbox. But as the “auto-tragic transmission” continued to gain in popularity the shift from classic gearboxes to slush boxes, and according to Jack Nerad, the senior editor at Kelley Blue Book, “Improvements in the function and fuel economy of automatic transmissions have essentially killed the manual in the U.S.”

This isn’t just some overnight phenomenon, but a very long and slow death rattle, with personal preference playing more of a role than need. Automatic transmissions began their hostile takeover in 1939, when General Motors began equipping Oldsmobiles with them. And while they may have not been able to best stick-shifts in fuel efficiency, they more than made up for it in the convenience department. But today’s manual transmissions don’t even have a fuel economy advantage anymore, and the only real advantages they have over automatics is that they are typically cheaper.

The motorsport side of things is losing a lot of gearboxes as well, and even though Volkswagen boasts that half of the GTIs it sells in the U.S. are manuals, road-rippers like the Lamborghini Aventador and Nissan’s GT-R are all automatics. Motoring points out that this is primarily due to the fact that modern sequential-shift dual-clutch transmissions have the ability to run through gears far faster and more efficiently than a human ever can, and that stomping on a pedal for each and every gear shift wastes precious time and leaves a large amount of room for human error.

It may be hard to swallow, but manuals no longer give us more control than a modern automatic, and if you want engine braking, automatics can deliver that too now. Automatics are also good off-road, when a mistimed gear change could get you stuck. They also are good for hybrid power efficiency, and they keep turbos spooling on diesel-powered vehicles. Manuals are officially considered outdated technology as automatics now have the ability to provide greater performance, fuel-economy, and control.

So how bad have things really gotten out there for fans of manual gearboxes? Pretty bad considering Car and Driver had to launch a campaign called “Save the Manuals” to raise some sort of alarm. Motor Authority is appalled as well, wailing that “only [7%] of vehicles sold last year were stick” and that as car enthusiasts we need to be teaching kids how to drive one just like our parents did with us back in the day.

I, for one, wholeheartedly support this notion, because being able to drive a stick when the chips are down and an emergency is afoot means you have the ability to save the day and maybe even someone’s life. There also is the whole “being in touch with your car” bit, and while we cannot argue that modern autos are inferior in any way, we feel that they do put us out of touch with the pulse of a car. Automatic slush boxes give us this underwhelming feeling of numbness, and it makes us wonder why RPMs and a redline are even displayed anymore on most commuter cars like the Camry.

This isn’t just me bashing automatics because I think they are boring, I fully appreciate them for what they have to offer the average driver: a low-stress driving alternative. There are millions of moms out there who need to keep one hand available for motherly duties while cruising down the interstate, and having to concern themselves with downshifting is something they shouldn’t ever have to worry about. And speaking of shifting, I can’t name single person who doesn’t dread being stuck on a sharp incline with a Porsche in front of them and an Audi behind them. There is a far more significant margin of error out there for manually-driven transmissions, and we totally get why people shy away from them.

But benefits aside, it is still going to be a sad day when the last manual car gets produced. Autonomously driven vehicles will aid in their extinction, since most Americans despise the daily commute, preferring a car to handle the driving for them. They abhor the whole process and all of the stress that goes with it, and every time I leave the house I see dozens of drivers who look absolutely miserable behind the wheel. I think they just might need a high-revving manual in order to inject some fun back into that droll drive.
 

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Used to love em too, only problem is nowadays if you have a daily driver stuck in rush hour traffic (not really sure why we use that term any more traffic is bad all day, every day) driving a manual can be a pain in the arse, holding onto the clutch. But we cannot halt progress or technology and with the superior engines and gearboxes they build today the only people worrying about the death of the 'stick shift' are the 'old farts':surprise:
 

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They will have to pry the manual gear shifter from my cold, dead fingers. The last SLK I will consider owning, at some point in the far future, is a 6-speed 2015 SLK250. I couldn't care less that the computers can do everything more efficiently. If I'm not using all four limbs to operate the car, I'm not really driving. I'm resigned to the reality that any replacement for the C230 Kompressor will have an automatic, as it does...but even when we bought it back in 2000, I grumbled a little. If I lived in any market other than North America, I could have (and WOULD have) ordered a 5-speed stick. I'm willing to live with a clutch in traffic, because I don't spend much time dealing with heavy traffic. Wife takes light rail to work, and I don't work any more...and even when I did, my commute was ten minutes. Life's too short to drive slushboxes.
 

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I'd say the majority of cars in the UK are manual but I found when looking for my SLK most of them were auto, which was a pain for me as I was purposely seeking out a manual as I am not a big fan of auto's, even though I am not an 'old fart', I prefer the control even though the majority of my driving is within the city where I come across my fair share of traffic, the trick is to come out of gear when sitting there not moving, afterall eco mode doesn't kick in if you don't ;-)

I never test drove an auto SLK but with my limited amount of experience of auto's I'd pick manual any day of the week. Will be a sad day when the UK market is mostly auto's like our cousins across the pond :(
 

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LOL I am with Beekster I am that old fart as long as I have a left leg and a good right hand I will be buying a Stick. I guess finding one will get harder and harder.
I've been driving a manual transmission car for over 20 years, so naturally, I wanted another manual while shopping for a new car.

At the MB dealer, the sales rep asked what was important in a new car so I started listing them out, but when I said "a manual transmission" he actually laughed out loud. He quickly recovered and apologized, but said that he hadn't seen a manual transmission on a MB in "a really long time". I drove away with the 7-speed automatic, so it's the end of an era for me. :frown:

At least I can use the paddle shifters when I'm feeling particularly nostalgic.
 

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And just to add to my previous post, I was born and bred in the UK until moved here 28 years ago, I had so many great cars over there that I miss today, but what I miss most of all is the country B roads, up and down the gears, double de clutching and it was a fun time to drive in the early 70's when I started.

When I came here I had a hard job finding a 'bend' in the road unless I drove way out of the town, but even then the roads just aren't the same. I can see why almost everything is 'auto' in NA. The problem is very few middle aged and younger can drive a 'stick':surprise: I even had to teach my Mrs how to drive a stick even though she had been driving for over 15 years.

I always enjoy visiting my homeland and get my hands on a 'stick' and find a great country B road that leads to a homely pub, where I can get my hands on a 'Melton Mowbray':crying:
 

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We are a "stick only" household

Our 2000 SLK is a manual and I will never forget the look on our BMW dealer's face when we stopped in and asked if our X3 had showed up yet. The new sales manager was looking at the delivery status sheet and saw a 6spd manual X3 with our name on it and said "Wow, a manual SUV, is that right? That had to be a special order...." I just chuckled and said "And you guys call yourselves the ultimate driving machine!"
 

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A manual is better when you have to drive on ice and snow. You have more control over the car.
As long as I stayed in Germany for the job I never wanted an automatic.
But now driving the SLK for 13 years I got quite used to it.
Driving in France and Spain on mountain roads and little villages where the roads go up and down is a
real pleasure with the automatic.
 

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Until 20 years ago I swore that I'd never own an auto.
The we had an accident and the only option for the Blue Badger was an auto. Even then, only a few were suitable.

Her leg is difficult to get inside the car comfortably. So we bought a Granada Scorpio.

Then, we found it hard to source a car for when hers was being serviced. So I got the Scorpio and she took an Omega estate.
I suppose that being in a comfy armchair driving sedately (mostly) was a change from blagging the bike down the lanes, I took to the auto.

Several cars later we have the slk(auto). It's the closest the Blue Badger gets to biking and she loves it.
So do I. It may be auto but it still gives a manual change if you want it (and sometimes I do).
The adaptive learning has turned into a blessing, despite my initial concerns of how different we drive.
Winter mode is kept for BB and summer for me.
Winter mode if foul weather has proven useful, so far.
Summer on dry roads is excellent. Love it.


BUT, I still have the bikes, still wouldn't want an auto on a bike.


And that is why I understand the Neanderthals wanting manual. I am one!
But auto has been a lifesaver for us.


So, if I was choosing the slk just for me, what would I pick?


AUTO! It's nicely sorted and suits me 90% of the time.


I don't think you can slate auto or manual unless you try them.
Oh dear. That means I'll have to try a gogglebox at some point.
Only way I'd ever have one is ill health.
(or maybe excess points on the old license, since they propose not needing one to have auto-anonymous cars).
 

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I actually went back a step and opt'd for a 6sp MT instead of a PDK variant and it made me fall back in love with driving again!
Nothing beats good old fashioned heelntoe rev-matching!! When I had the SLK I spent quite a lot of time aggressively using that gear lever (I had flappy paddles but really hated them!) left and right to get the gear I wanted I figured I might as well have the full blown experience.

Having an auto desensitizes the driver, you become lazy and that much was apparent when I stalled off the forecourt on the test drive oooooops!
 

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It seems a manual slk dont seem to hold there value here in the uk as much as an auto box .

Most of the mercs that come my way are autos and a rarity to see a manual or stick shift as its sometimes refered to . :grin:

At least dont have the expense to change the clutch / slave cylinder / fluid etc every so many years depending how you drive .......
 

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It seems a manual slk dont seem to hold there value here in the uk as much as an auto box .

Most of the mercs that come my way are autos and a rarity to see a manual or stick shift as its sometimes refered to . :grin:

At least dont have the expense to change the clutch / slave cylinder / fluid etc every so many years depending how you drive .......
And those of us with sticks don't have to worry about conductor plates, so there!>:D
 

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I have been driving for over 30 years but just two years ago I learned how to drive standard. My husband bought a VIPER and he insisted that I learn to drive standard on the off chance that something happens and we are out somewhere and I have to take the wheel. He paid for professional lessons and we actually bought an old beater for me to practise on. I did love it and since then I have owned a BRZ with a manual clutch and drove it daily for two years until I got the SLK.

SIDE NOTE: I have not driven the VIPER as my husband has not let anyone except his mechanic drive it and that is only around the garage so it can be serviced. I could be mad but I got the SLK and to be honest I can't stand the VIPER. I find their seats are a big pain after a few hours and the amount of care that it requires in terms of making sure it stays pristine is a pain the butt.

Anyway back to manual transmissions I purposely bought the SLK looking for an automatic even though I love driving standard. The reason is really one of connivence. Yes it is easier to drive in heavy traffic but also we have a daughter and although my husband paid for professional lessons for her as well they did not enjoy it. The entire time we had the old beater and the BRZ she refused to take them. We still had an automatic in the family for her to use but it made things inconvenient when the other cars were available and easier to access in the driveway. The second reason is that here selling a manual transmission car limits the market for resale and although we got rid of the BRZ with no difficulty because it was in excellent condition other model cars not so desirable is a real challenge. (the old beater had to be given to charity as no body wanted it = Saturn SL). Had it been automatic I could have sold it to a student or somebody else who wanted a winter beater because it was in decent shape. Here winter beaters are common-they are used for a few seasons and the $2000 or $3000 dollors it costs is worth it for people to preserve their luxury rides and save on insurance costs (no need for collision or comprehensive on these beaters).

In short, while I love driving a car with manual transmission it just isn't practical. My husband has already been impractical so one of us has to keep it real.
 

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Firstly -
There are millions of moms out there who need to keep one hand available for motherly duties while cruising down the interstate, and having to concern themselves with downshifting is something they shouldn’t ever have to worry about.
Manual or auto, mothers should be concentrating on controlling the vehicle not performing "motherly duties". When in control of a moving automobile the biggest motherly duty there is, is to drive safely and not risk her child's life.

Sorry, rant over!

Auto makes sense for me with the amount of mileage I do. I used to miss the whole manual experience (the CLK320 tiptronic box on Old Faithfull takes an age to change down a couple of 'cogs', although it can be driven fast once the idiosyncrasies have been mastered), but the 7sp SLK auto with flappy paddles and 'manual' mode does the job very nicely for my purposes. Never really mastered the whole heal and toe thing anyway!
 
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