Full disclosure: we recently went for a number of months with no manual transmission in the garage. ("Booooooooo.") We know...
But the harrowing experience gave us an opportunity to appreciate and rediscover what was lost. And what we're appreciating most this time around isn't quite what we expected.
Heel-toe downshifts on track, into a mountain road hairpin are gratifying to be sure, but there's plenty else to do while performance driving and on track. The truth is, a driver can immerse him or herself in a track experience with an automatic, dual clutch, or a manual transmission.
On the other hand, it's a challenge to immerse oneself in a common city drive. It's actually in this context where we’ve learned to value the manual most.
The manual turns every stoplight approach into a downshifting/rev-matching exercise. In traffic it requires a semi-conscious calculation of gear selection. The challenge of driving smoothly, executing perfect upshifts and downshifts/rev-matches never really ceases.
And the manual transmission creates an ongoing, but not burdensome awareness of your surroundings in relation to your gearing, and encourages a higher level of interactivity.
We know it’s probably an unconventional perspective, but for an around town car we’ll take a well sorted manual transmission any day, auto rev-matching off.