Sunday, September 26, 2004

Manuals vs. Automatics

Now that I work for Holden, I have a nice car. It's a 5.7 litre V8, with a 6 speed manual. This weekend, they gave me the chance to drive another nice car - also a 5.7 litre V8, but with the venerable 4L60 4 speed auto.

Now, the criticism of the 4 speed auto is widespread, given the more modern automatics now driving on our roads. And, jumping from a manual to an auto for the first time (since getting the manual) there is a strange feeling of lack of control and waiting for the auto to pick a gear. Also, if you change your mind mid corner and want to accelerate more, it won't drop down a gear for you.

However, I'm still not convinced that 99 times out of 100 the auto won't be quicker in real world conditions - I'm talking point to point. With time, I got to learn the exact accelerator pedal actions that would make old Betsy (bless her) do exactly what I want. I'm sure I'd do the same with the Monaro, given time. Also - and this is what people forget - if I wanted to change how much I accelerated mid corner in the manual, I'd need to change gears mid corner, which costs speed and time.

There's also an element of what I call "The Shortcut Trap" - things seem to take less time when they're more interesting. In an Auto, you decide, you press the pedal, and you wait. This waiting time is very obvious, even though most manuals change very much quicker than most people can or do. In a manual, the time to enact the change is taken up with you changing gears, de clutching and getting ready. Distraction's a wonderful thing.

If I know beforehand exactly what I want to, then yes, the manual will be much better. However, in a changing world the time between decision and consequence is less in the auto, I'm sure. And this is with an automatic widely regarded as getting to its use-by date. Can't wait to have an extended drive with a modern 5 speed auto.

And as a bonus, if everyone drove an auto you would not get the GO!-wait-GO!-wait-GO!-wait when some dickhead at the front of the queue takes forever to change gears. Ay carumba!


  • Yeah, yeah, keep you photon torpedo in your pants Austenite. You can't understand real power until you crank impulse power up to factor 9 whilst being chased by a Romulen Cruiser with a crazed Klingon at the helm. Happened only yesterday.

    By Blogger Seven of Nine, at 10:58 pm  

  • MMMMMMMMMMM, Sevvvvvven.

    By Blogger Austenite, at 8:01 am  

  • Sounds like you've got your phasers set to stun Captain! You certainly won't be assimilating with my warp core!

    By Blogger Seven of Nine, at 1:56 pm  

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