The 10 Sweetest Rides That Still Have Manual Transmissions, Ranked
Hope you can work a clutch.
Manual transmissions were the original way to move power from a car’s engine to the road with the best mechanical leverage for the situation. Now, they are a dying breed of devices that permit drivers a greater degree of participation in the act of driving.
This cultivates enthusiasm on the part of drivers who still know how to do the clutch pedal dance with the manual transmission shift lever. But as drivers disengage from the act of piloting vehicles with the rise of autonomous cars, the manual transmission will surely die out.
It will be our loss. It is bad enough that manual transmission stalwart Dodge Viper has been discontinued. There has never been an automatic transmission Viper, and it looks like there never will be one either.
As the ranks of cars with manuals are winnowed to a happy few, the remaining machines are spectacular examples of the breed. So spectacular that the fantastic Chevrolet SS sedan doesn’t make the cut, even though we’d buy one with our own money, and neither did the perpetually wonderful Mazda MX-5 Miata.
These are the cars that did.
10. Ford Focus RS
The all-wheel drive Focus RS looks ready to attack the next round of the World Rally Championship, and surely most of their drivers would be up for taking on the challenge.
With 350 horsepower routed through the 6-speed transmission to all four wheels, Focus RS drivers have good cause to feel confident in their potential.
9. Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86
The Subaru/Toyota joint sports car brings low-slung good looks and an easy-shifting manual gearbox to the market at an affordable price, but it has escaped the “cheap car” and “girl car” labels that sink the prestige of some cars. The torque from the Subaru flat four-cylinder engine makes this manual transmission all the easier to row through the gears.
8. Nissan 370Z
Nissan not has not only continued the manual transmission in the 370Z sports car, but the company has even upgraded the six-speed with an Exedy high-performance clutch for the 2018 model year. And the gearbox already enjoys automatic rev matching on downshifts. So while the design of manual transmissions might be old, it doesn’t mean the technology has to be.
7. Chevrolet Camaro
Wanna know a surprising secret about manual transmission Camaros? *lowers voice* The six-cylinder car has a better-shifting manual than the mighty small block V8 versions of Chevy’s pony car. The heavier-duty gears needed to withstand the V8’s power makes the transmission a bit more ponderous to shift, so it isn’t quite as quick or slick as the six’s manual shifter.
6. Jeep Wrangler
There isn’t much that is as cool as a Jeep Wrangler. However, in slow-motion rock crawling, the dreaded automatic transmission is actually superior, due to the torque multiplication effect of the automatic’s hydraulic torque converter. So stick to the dunes instead of the rocks and keep the faith with a manual gearbox in the Wrangler.
5. Ford Mustang GT350
All Mustangs are good, but the GT350 is a breed apart, so we’ve called it out for special attention here. The GT350’s tuneful flat-plane crankshaft V8 engine barks its arrival everywhere it goes, and its eye-blink throttle response makes driving the manually shifted GT350 all the more fun.
4. Aston Martin Vantage GT
Ferrari and Lamborghini have sadly given up on the manual transmission. But their scrappy English rival is led by a manual transmission enthusiast in Andy Palmer, and he vows to preserve our favorite anachronism for as long as possible. The Vantage GT manual transmission is the result of his insistence on this.
3. Porsche 911
If there is a perennial manual transmission favorite that is in jeopardy, it seems like the 911 might be a candidate for “most likely to become automatic-only soon.”
As a rear-engine car, it has a cable-actuated shifter like those used on front-wheel drive cars, so its shifter has never been a sterling example of the breed. But it will be missed if the 911 drops its manual transmission.
2. Chevrolet Corvette
Word is that the rumored upcoming mid-engine Corvette will be automatic transmission only. But until and unless that happens, America’s sports car continues to provide driving fans with the ability to engage in DYI gear changes thanks to its advanced 7-speed manual transmission.
1. Dodge Challenger Hellcat
The mighty 707-horsepower Hellcat has been improbably overshadowed by the even more incredible 840-horsepower Demon, but the kitty has an advantage over the spawn of hell because it is available with a six-speed manual transmission.
Unless you run into a Demon at the drag strip, you’ll still be the boss in a Hellcat.