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an affectation? are we hypocrites? (archive)

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Posted by robb on April 05, 1999 at 10:29:08:

In Reply to: New Quick Poll: Manual or Automatic gear ? posted by Ben on April 04, 1999 at 20:51:29:

I would never buy a car like this with an automatic transmission. Period.

On the other hand, given the predilection of many American drivers for big, lazy, torque-meister engines, I'm guessing that many of us in fact don't actually LIKE having to shift gears.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that even BMW is now catering to such preferences. My one disappointment with this car is that the 2.8 engine's lack of top-end scream makes shifting much less rewarding than it should be. I remember the sreaming, make-the-hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-stand-up power that downshifting a gear or two could reveal in european cars of old. It just doesn't happen with most modern cars -- the Z3 included.

Much as I hate to admit it, these torque-biased modern engines -- with torque curves as flat (and boring) as Kansas -- may render the manual transmission mostly an affectation.

Granted, manual transmissions still have a few advantages. It's still nice to be able to avoid the drive-line slop inherent in an automatic transmission, and to know that the computers won't do something stupid (like unexpectedly shifting in mid-corner).

But I wonder if many of us aren't being just a wee bit hypocritical in continuing to adhere to manual transmissions while simultaneously celebrating lots of torque in our engines.

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