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I beg your pardon... (archive)

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Posted by SL on April 05, 1999 at 14:18:10:

In Reply to: an affectation? are we hypocrites? posted by robb on April 05, 1999 at 10:29:08:

Flat and boring? I live in KS and there are plenty of excellent sports car roads, virtually traffic-free and cop-free, IF you know where to find them (they are slightly off the beaten I-70 path of course). City-slickers who live in a huge traffic-congested crime-ridden megalopolis with radar every 3 blocks can only dream of going out and driving such roads anytime they want to. But then they have a lot of other things they can do that we can't here because they roll up the sidewalks at night :-)

BTW I agree with your premise about manual trannies to some extent but not entirely with regard to Z3's and certain other roadsters. They still need a gearbox to fully exploit their potential IMHO. But it's true what you say about torque for example, with muscle cars. Many buyers of Z28's and Mustang GT's think they've got to have a manual when all they want out of the car is acceleration, because of what they've read in magazine tests. Most of them are at a limited skill level and are not willing to abuse their cars like they do in those magazine tests anyway, so a slushbox would actually yield better acceleration for them.

: 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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