Three Pedal Club: 5 New Performance Cars that are Manual Transmission Only
In recent years there’s been no escaping the news that the manual transmission is on the decline. Take rates for manual gearboxes are way down, and many of today’s sports cars and performance cars aren’t even available with a stick shift in any form.
Fortunately though, there are still plenty of automakers that are happy to at least offer the choice of a manual gearbox on a wide variety of cars, and even rarer are cars that are only available with a manual transmission.
That's right, even in today’s age of quick shifting automatics and dual clutch transmissions there are still a handful of performance cars sold where the only choice is to row your own gears, and we think there is something decidedly cool about that. Here are five greats that can only be driven and enjoyed by those who know how to operate a clutch pedal.
1. Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is an absolute gem of a performance car, and the centerpiece of its magic is a 5.2L naturally aspirated flat plane crank V8 that makes 526hp and can be spun up to 8,250 rpm. The only way to wring out that high-revving horsepower is through a six-speed manual Tremec gearbox that happens to have one of the best feeling shifters in the business.
Interestingly enough, the upcoming supercharged Shelby GT500 will only be available with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, but it looks like the naturally aspirated GT350 will remain a manual-only affair.
2. Chevrolet Camaro 1LE
Whether you are talking about the turbocharged four cylinder, V6 or V8-powered Chevy Camaro, the 1LE package should be considered a must-have option because of the way it transforms the Camaro into a track day special.
If you do go for the 1LE package, though, you’ll have to row your own gears, unless you are going for the flagship ZL1 1LE, which has just recently become available with a 10-speed automatic to help combat the aforementioned Shelby GT500. For the more affordable Camaro 1LEs, we aren’t upset at all that GM has kept them manual only, and we especially love the active rev matching feature that comes with the V8-powered models.
3. Honda Civic Type R
Honda is a brand that’s always been known for its great manual transmissions, with its hard-edged Type R models in particular having never been offered with anything but a three-pedal setup. While the new Civic Type R is a big departure from past Type R models with its turbocharged engine and more road-friendly manners, it is still only available with a traditional six-speed manual gearbox.
You’ll hear no complaints from us though, because not only is the Type R’s shifter a joy to use, but the automatic rev matching is great fun to use on the race track, curvy backroads or even just the daily commute.
4. Hyundai Veloster N
Next up we get to a car that arrived on the market with the Civic Type R directly in its sights: the Hyundai Veloster N. While you might expect this Nürburgring-developed hot hatch to sport a dual clutch gearbox of some sort, it’s only sold with an old school six-speed stick.
Like the Type R, the Veloster N also features active rev matching (which can be shut off if you’d like the challenge of heel-toeing for yourself), and it will be interesting to see if the lack of an automatic option affects sales of the new model. Performance tests have shown the cheaper Veloster N to lag slightly behind the Type R while delivering an equally fun experience, and it’s hard to fault Hyundai for making a stick shift the only way to experience its hot hatch.
5. Subaru WRX STI
Last but not least we get to the elder statesman of this group: the Subaru WRX STI. While the lesser-powered WRX has always been available with an automatic option (not that we’d recommend it), the more hardcore STI has always had a manual as it’s only gearbox choice, and the current car is no different. This isn’t surprising considering the STI’s EJ25 powerplant has been around largely unchanged since 2004, and even if Subaru did want to add an automatic option, they likely don’t make a transmission that could properly handle the power.
While we wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a rally inspired dual clutch option in the next generation WRX STI, Subaru’s current automatics are all of the CVT variety, so that leads us to believe that its performance flagship will continue to be a manual-only machine.
So there you have it. If you are in the market for a new performance car but either can’t or don’t want to drive a manual, you’ll have to turn down these offerings. But with as good as all these cars are, we’d recommend going ahead and banging your own gears anyway.