Monday, January 4, 2010

Paddling into the Wave of the Future

I've addressed this topic before, including one post with an equally cheesy name, as well as the saga of purchasing my R32. But my dad recently sent me a link to an article that seems to be a harbinger death for true manual transmissions.

Road & Track explains that the new Ferrari 458 Italia will only offer one gearbox, Ferrari's new 7-speed dual-clutch setup. Apparently only one percent of F430s were sold with sticks, and elsewhere in the world of true sports cars, manuals are going away. Godzilla, the Nissan GT-R, is not available with a manual, nor will be the next McLaren.

The following was from my original post on the subject:

Am I like those who rejected the fancy new water-cooled engines? Or those who proclaimed that airbags would never be a legitimate auto technology? Was I penning myself in with the automotive nay-sayers who refused to make way for new advances? If Mitsubishi had decided that the new SST was good enough for their most discriminating enthusiasts--hey, it's good enough for F1 drivers--then maybe VW was in the right. Maybe I would get used to shifting without a clutch.

Well, the fact is, I'd still prefer a real stick-shift. There's nothing quite like the delicate dance between a man and a machine, wherein you discover the unique character and limits of a vehicle through working a shift lever, a clutch, and a gas pedal. It's truly makes daily driving more fun.

But on the track, I actually prefer the paddles. The DSG offers quicker responses, and allows you to keep both hands on the wheel, while still controlling the rev range perfectly.

I may never be completely happy with having a paddle shifter. But it seems increasingly likely that I one day will. And ironically, my dad, who only within the past decade returned to a stick as his daily driver (my old car, actually), will be a lot slower to accept this new trend.

Of course, computers and I came of age around the same time, which certainly has something to do with this. But when it comes down to it, I just don't wanna be a stubborn old fart.