Manual All The Things

In a world where cars equipped with automatic transmissions are now faster and more efficient than their manual transmission counterparts, three-pedal advocates like myself are running out of arguments.

3 + 1 pedals

Even I’ll admit that certain cars are better with automatic transmissions. I don’t want to manually shift a Volvo XC90, for example (such an option existed in Europe, of course); the enjoyment I derive from driving a Volvo has nothing to do with shifting.

joy stick

To me, the fun of driving a manual transmission is banging through the gears: the satisfaction of each upshift or the excitement of each rev-matched downshift. Plus, as an unintended bonus consequence, these days people seem to be impressed if you can even drive a manual transmission at all.

red green

This is where the Cayenne GTS comes in and throws me for a loop. I’m still shaken by the bizarre feeling of heel-toeing a 4,900lb beast. The Cayenne has always been a vehicle that says, “You shouldn’t be able to do this!” and to that end, the manual transmission really adds to the experience. It revs like a 1.6L Miata–eager in any gear, but it really only pulls over 4,000 RPM. Yet it has so much low end torque that you can easily start in second gear around town. When compared to the sluggish automatic of this generation Cayenne, it presents a compelling argument for itself.

However, while the current generation Cayenne can be special-ordered with a manual transmission, I don’t really see why you would. The new automatic is smooth, quick, and just as fun on a twisty road. It’s definitely a unique experience to drive a three-pedal SUV, but with paddle shifting and rev-matching I think we’ve come to a point where a great automatic is just as enjoyable as a great manual. No excuses are needed anymore; some cars are just better with automatics.

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