Before it became common for standard passenger cars to have automatic transmissions, all cars had to be moved by hand.
With an automatic transmission, all a driver had to do was step on the gas pedal and go.
The car would take care of everything!
Even though automatic transmissions are more convenient, there are still people who love manual transmissions. One of the most common questions is whether a manual or automatic transmission is faster.
In a straight line comparison, automatic transmissions are faster than manual transmissions because they can shift faster than a person. But these same benefits don’t always give you more control over a vehicle. For example, in formula racing, you can get better performance by changing gears by hand.
With that quick answer in mind, let’s dig deeper into the question of whether a manual transmission or an automatic transmission is faster.
History of Automatic Transmissions
Some people don’t agree on what the first real automatic transmission was.
Alfred Homer Monro of Regina, Canada, was the first person to get a patent for an automatic transmission. This was in 1923.
The first hydraulic automatic transmissions came out in 1939, but they didn’t really catch on until the early 1960s.
The military was the first to use them.
Now, cars with automatic transmissions use high-tech electronics to choose the gear and shift quickly.
There are many advantages to an automatic transmission over a manual one.
The first is that you don’t have to use the clutch or worry about shifting at the wrong time or not shifting at all.
Are Manual Transmissions More Efficient?
In the days of the early automatic transmissions, manual transmissions were more fuel-efficient, but the same cannot be said today.
Now, electronic sensors measure parameters that the driver does not have access to.
New Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) are highly efficient when it comes to gas mileage.
In the early days of the automatic transmission, higher fuel consumption was caused by the viscosity of the transmission fluid and pumping losses that occurred in the torque converter and hydraulic actuators.
These engineering issues have been resolved, and now new automatic transmissions can be even more fuel-efficient than the same model with a manual transmission.
What About Acceleration and Speed?
Over the years, the manual transmission has lost the fight over fuel efficiency, but the fun of owning a manual transmission is speed, or at least that is a common idea that many people have.
When automatic transmissions became more common, the general market of auto consumers moved away from them which caused many makers to phase out manual transmissions.
Manual transmissions still found a solid market in high-end vehicles and certain sports cars.
When it comes to the standard passenger car, manual transmissions can feel sluggish on the takeoff, especially when going up hills or when the car is under heavy load.
In passenger cars, modern automatic transmissions outperform manual ones in speed and gear management.
Modern automatic transmissions can shift quicker than the human nervous system even has a chance to respond.
One of the reasons why people may think that manual transmissions have better acceleration and go faster than automatic ones is that they are now almost exclusively found on performance sports cars.
It might be hard for manual transmission fans to take, but as of 2022, Aston Martin has announced that it will be phasing them out.
Ferrari has not made a car with a manual transmission since 2014!
If auto manufacturers like these are phasing out manual transmissions in favour of newer automatic ones, you have to ask if manual transmissions still have an advantage when it comes to speed and performance.
Can You Still Find a Manual Transmission Car?
Here are a few other manufacturers who have traded in the manual transmission for an automatic.
This list is the final models offered by these manufacturers with a manual transmission.
2014 Lamborghini Gallardo
2015 Audi R8
2006 Porsche Carrera GT
1998 McLaren F1
2010 Lamborghini Murcielago
2012 Porsche 997.2 911 Turbo
2012 Ferrari California
For diehard manual transmission fans who still want the tactile feel of shifting gears, you can still find a few around in 2022.
Here are a few models that still have a manual transmission.
2022 BMW M3 and M4
2022 Chevrolet Spark
2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing
2022 Chevrolet Camaro
2022 Dodge Challenger
2022 Ford Mustang
2022 Honda Civic
2022 Hyundai Veloster N
2022 Jeep Wrangler
2022 Nissan Versa
2022 Subaru Crosstrek
2022 Toyota Corolla
2022 Toyota Tacoma
As you can see, there are still quite a few manual transmissions around, and not all of them are sports cars.
According to Motortrend, in 2022, only 33 cars are still available with a manual transmission out of all the manufacturers in the United States.
Manual transmissions are becoming a rare find, and with even more advances, such as traction control systems and sensor-driven electronics, it can be expected that the manual transmission will become a thing of the past one day.
This is especially true as autonomous cars become more prevalent.
This might be said news for manual-shift fans, so you might want to get your hands on one while they are still around.
Performance cars that have dropped manual transmissions rose in price astronomically for collectors who had older manual shift models.
Someday, your manual transmission car might become a valuable collectible!