"Well," I replied, "I prefer auto."
"Tsk, tsk." He shook his head. "Real men drive manual shifts."
"Why?" Now it was my turn to shake my head. "I drive during rush hour, and just want a relaxing drive on the way to work."
"No man." His eyes had the evangelical look some Jehovah's Witnesses had when they knocked on my door that morning. "Manual is the BEST!!! You gotta feel one with the car. You've got to drive it really - if you know what I mean."
"No, I don't know what you mean," I could be stubborn when I wanted to, "and um, you are driving a CAR, not something else you have to be 'one with', whatever that means ..."
My friend just had that sad look on his eyes, the same one those Jehovah's Witnesses had when I told them, no, I was not interested in having Jesus as my savior (I had also asked them it was Sunday morning, shouldn't they be at church?).
It's not that I have not driven stick before. My father had a huge Mercedes in the Middle East and I drove it there (well, not for long, enough to stall on Sheikh Zayed highway there when I tried to rev it). I also drove in Bangladesh (if you can call moving at 20 km/hour with the guy on the rickshaw beating a car comfortably). So I have some experience in driving manual. However, with tiptronics becoming more of a standard feature nowadays, and automatic transmissions now superseding manual transmissions in fuel efficiency, it doesn't make sense (to me) in deliberately hunting for a manual car, especially if you live in the city.
Yes, I have driven a friend's RX-8, and yes, it does feel good when you shift down and floor it. The car takes off. I can however have that same effect with a tiptronic (or even my auto) - the only thing would be a little delay.
Too many people have written on why driving manual is better. Here's my riposte on why I prefer an auto:
Morning rush hour: I can change my CDs while on the highway, and sip my tea at the same time. If I am late, add eat my sandwich to that list.
While listening to music: Have a free hand to play tabla on the steering wheel.
When someone cuts you off, you have a free hand to ---
Rush Hour again: I am more efficient when I don't have to worry about shifting. Using the same route for years, I know exactly when to change lanes depending on location and time of day, so I can just concentrate on doing that.
If I may say it:
It's not how you shift your stick, it's how you drive on the road that matters.
Tags: Driving Transmission