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These 9 Cars Were Manual Only, Until Recently

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 10/27/2014 Benson Kong

"What happened to you, man -- you used to be cool."

"I'm still cool!"

"Nah. You've changed, man."

Thus went the famous exchange between the alternate-universe versions of Bart and Homer Simpson (the universe with POTUS Lisa). It's also what we'd expect to hear between a manual transmission buff and a vehicle that had stuck with a stick as the only means of changing gears only to announce it'd be converting to or adding the option of an automatic.

In enthusiast circles, the crop of purely manually shifted vehicles on sale today -- SRT Viper, Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Si, and company -- is well-documented. There aren't many. But the yield would have been greater had the following nine cars* bucked up and held out against going automatic.

*Our list consists of currently and soon-to-be available vehicles that until recently (within the past few model years) only were offered with three pedals.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

© Provided by MotorTrendFirst model year with an automatic transmission: 2015

Type of automatic: 7-speed auto-clutch manual

Alluringly styled with a killer engine soundtrack, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S replaces the 2011-2012 V12 Vantage (no S), which made it to the U.S. two years after its global release because it originally didn't meet federal crash standards. We never tested a V12 Vantage with the six-speed manual, but found the seven-speed auto-clutch manual none too cooperative in extracting the best straight-line performance from the V12 Vantage S. (Aston estimated 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds.)

 2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S2012 Aston Martin V12 Vantage
ENGINE5.9L/565-hp/457-lb-ft DOHC 48-valve V-125.9L/510-hp/420-lb-ft DOHC 48-valve V-12
TRANSMISSION7-speed auto-cl manual6-speed manual
0-60 MPH4.1 sec4.1 sec (mfr est)
QUARTER MILE12.3 sec @ 121.3 mphN/A
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON12/18/14 mpg11/17/13 mpg

Comparison: 2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S vs. 2014 Jaguar XKR-S GT

"We were able to stall the Vantage once, and moderate to heavy acceleration in low gears occasionally filled the cabin with the smell of burnt clutch. It smooths out at speed, where the exaggerated mechanical action of the shifting process can be strangely satisfying. But because you pull shifts at the sweetest-sounding point of the powerband, it can also feel like listening to a great song on a skipping CD."

Can we still get a manual transmission? No.

Would we get the manual transmission? If we could, we would.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06

© Provided by MotorTrendFirst model year with an automatic transmission: 2015

Type of automatic: 8-speed automatic

The C2, C5, and C6 (1963, 2001-2013) Corvette Z06s never came with automatics (other C2s ran around with two-speed autos) but the C7 will. Chevy claims the GM-developed eight-speed auto (the architecture is shared with GM's 6.2-liter trucks and SUVs) shifts up more quickly, under full throttle, than Porsche's PDK twin-clutch automatic. Starting at $78,995 and $83,995 for the convertible model, the 650-hp C7 Z06 sure hits all the right bang-for-buck performance buttons.

 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Centennial Edition
ENGINE6.2L/650-hp/650-lb-ft supercharged OHV 16-valve V-87.0L/505-hp/470-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION8-speed automatic6-speed manual
0-60 MPH3.4 sec (MT est)3.8 sec
QUARTER MILEN/A11.9 sec @ 122.5 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON15/25/18 mpg (est)15/24/18 mpg

First Look: 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

"If the supercharger doesn't get to Z06 purists, the transmission might. Yes, a seven-speed manual (with auto rev-matching) is still offered, thank goodness, but for 2015, you'll be able to order an eight-speed (torque converter) automatic. And why not, says Bill Goodrich, assistant chief engineer on RWD automatics. 'The eight-speed transmission is designed to give fuel economy without sacrificing performance,' he says."

Can we still get a manual transmission? Yes.

Would we get the manual transmission? We'll wait and see how the eight-speed handles in person, though the auto looks tempting so far.

Fiat 500 Abarth

© Provided by MotorTrendFirst model year with an automatic transmission: 2015

Type of automatic: 6-speed automatic

Despite being the smallest car on this list, the Fiat 500 Abarth is just as loud as the lot of them. Have you heard its 5-0-attracting exhaust growl? The sportiest of Fiats you can buy today has many capable, more desirable rivals, but the diminutive Italian certainly isn't lacking in personality. An automatic transmission might sap some of its character, based on our experience with the standard 500.

2015 Fiat 500 Abarth2012 Fiat 500 Abarth
ENGINE1.4L/160-hp/170-lb-ft turbocharged SOHC 16-valve I-41.4L/160-hp/170-lb-ft turbocharged SOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION6-speed automatic5-speed manual
0-60 MPH7.2 sec (MT est)6.7 sec
QUARTER MILEN/A15.2 sec @ 91.0 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON24/32/27 mpg28/34/30 mpg

Fiat Confirms Six-Speed Auto for 500 Abarth, Details 2015 500 Changes

"The Abarth, which was first introduced in 2012, accounts for about 15 percent of Fiat 500 sales, but now that it will be available with an automatic, the automaker hopes those numbers will increase. Jason Stoicevich, head of the brand in North America, told Automotive News that the lack of the automatic transmission is the biggest reason customers don't buy the Abarth. The exec even said adding the transmission could account to a 50-percent sales increase for the high-performance models."

Can we still get a manual transmission? Yes.

Would we get the manual transmission? With 160 horsepower on reserve, the manual is the better idea.

Lotus Evora/Evora S

© Provided by MotorTrendFirst model year with an automatic transmission: 2011

Type of automatic: 6-speed automatic

Lotus' lone car for sale in the U.S. didn't have the Toyota Camry's six-speed automatic (with Lotus tuning) as an option when it landed on our shores -- just its V-6 (also with Lotus tuning). Officially, the first batch of self-shifting Evora IPS (for Intelligent Precision Shift) was open for order in model year 2012, but the car was certified for 2011, too. The supercharged, 345-hp Evora S followed the same plan: manual at first for 2011, with IPS versions from 2012 on.

2012 Lotus Evora2010 Lotus Evora
ENGINE3.5L/276-hp/258-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-63.5L/276-hp/258-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION6-speed automatic6-speed manual
0-60 MPH5.2 sec (mfr est)5.0 sec
QUARTER MILEN/A13.4 sec @ 104.2 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON20/28/23 mpg18/27/21 mpg

First Drive: 2012 Lotus Evora IPS Automatic

"The torque converter locks above 20 mph and stays that way, so you don't get the smooth yet squishy automatic feel. It's more akin to single-clutch automated manuals, with a distinct kick during hard shifts. It's not as smooth or quick as the best dual-clutch automatics, nor is it as slow or clunky as an automated manual. It exists in some previously nonexistent middle ground that actually suits the car rather nicely."

Can we still get a manual transmission? Yes.

Would we get the manual transmission? The Evora's six-speed manual isn't one for the ages, but we'd have to go with the stick in a Lotus.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

© Provided by MotorTrendFirst model year with an automatic transmission: 2008

Type of automatic: 6-speed twin-clutch automatic

The current Lancer Evolution X has been around so long (2008-2015), its six-speed dual-clutch alone has double the years of service of the earlier, manual-only Evos VIII and IX (2003-2006). The next Evo, if it even retains the storied nameplate, is said to employ a plug-in hybrid powertrain with all-wheel-drive capability. Whatever it is -- chances are the future car will completely drop the manual -- we're sure it'll be mighty quick and substantially more efficient.

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
ENGINE2.0L/291-hp/300-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-42.0L/291-hp/300-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION6-speed twin-clutch auto5-speed manual
0-60 MPH5.3 sec5.2 sec
QUARTER MILE13.9 sec @ 99.4 mph13.8 sec @ 99.3 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON17/22/19 mpg16/22/18 mpg

Verdict: 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR

"As for the TC-SST gearbox, while there was initial skepticism, most of the staff eventually joined the 'church of the SST,' as assistant Web producer Carlos Lago put it, though not without reservations, mainly complaints about it being jerky in traffic. As Kiino says, 'The SST tranny is quite good. I had it in Sport mode for my little session in the switchbacks-perfect mode, by the way, as it always kept the engine right in the powerband (4000-6000 rpm). In Normal mode, the shifts are impressively quick and seamless, except at low speeds or in stop-and-go traffic, when they can be a bit abrupt. Overall, doesn't feel quite as refined as the VW's DSG, but it's pretty close.'"

Can we still get a manual transmission? Yes. Hurry, as 2015 is the last model year.

Would we get the manual transmission? For old times' sake, yes.

Nissan 370Z Nismo

© Provided by MotorTrendFirst model year with an automatic transmission: 2015

Type of automatic: 7-speed automatic

Apparently, we've never formally tested a Nissan 370Z with an automatic transmission (or an auto 350Z for that matter). We haven't had a 370Z Nismo in our clutches since 2009 Best Driver's Car, where it placed seventh out of 10. Based on the gearing specs, the new-for-2015 , auto-assisted 370Z Nismo should be quicker down the quarter mile. Yes, we know the Nismo version of this car is supposed to be focused on track work.

2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo2010 Nissan 370Z Nismo
ENGINE3.7L/350-hp/276-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-63.7L/350-hp/276-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION7-speed automatic6-speed manual
0-60 MPH4.7 sec (MT est)5.1 sec
QUARTER MILEN/A13.5 sec @ 105.8 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON19/26/21 mpg18/26/21 mpg

2015 Nissan 370Z Priced, Nismo More Affordable at $42,800

"The base 370Z Nismo starts at $42,800 and comes equipped with the six-speed manual, while the newly available seven-speed automatic brings the price up to $44,100. The 370Z Nismo Tech model starts at $46,300 and adds a navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen, rearview camera, Bose audio system, and Bluetooth. Choosing the automatic hikes the price up to $47,600. The 370Z was redesigned in and out for the 2015 model year, with GT-R Nismo-inspired exterior elements. Inside, the interior is enhanced with redesigned black and red Recaro leather seats with Alcantara accents. All else remains the same, including the 370Z Nismo's 350-hp 3.7-liter V-6."

Can we still get a manual transmission? Yes.

Would we get the manual transmission? Out of morbid curiosity to learn what kind of performance numbers the auto could lay down, no.

Porsche 911 GT3

© Provided by MotorTrendFirst model year with an automatic transmission: 2014

Type of automatic: 7-speed twin-clutch automatic

Numerous, and obviously requisite, 991-series 911 variants had to debut before we could feast on the GT3, the first of the revered breed since 2011. And the wait was worth it…as long as you could live with the fact that it's now sporting a dual-clutch tranny only. Teething problems with the new engines (owners were advised to stop driving their cars at one point) mean we haven't had an opportunity to test the latest GT3, but we're looking forward to playing with it where it belongs: on a track, going as fast as it can.

2014 Porsche 911 GT32011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
ENGINE3.8L/469-hp/325-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-63.8L/450-hp/317-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-6
TRANSMISSION7-speed twin-clutch auto6-speed manual
0-60 MPH3.3 sec (MT est)3.5 sec
QUARTER MILEN/A11.8 sec @ 120.7 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON15/20/17 mpg14/20/16 mpg

First Drive: 2014 Porsche 911 GT3

"When the GT3 was announced, enthusiasts screamed bloody murder about the dual-clutch PDK gearbox being the only method of gear change. No manual? How dare they! Well, here's what [Andreas] Preuninger [general manager of GT Cars, Porsche] had to say about it: 'At Porsche, we like manual shifting, but we also like being the fastest.' And there you have it. As manual transmissions no longer offer advantages in fuel economy or shift times, the argument in their favor has shifted to driver involvement and enjoyment."

Can we still get a manual transmission? No.

Would we get the manual transmission? A seven-speed manual option would have been nice. But in all likelihood, no.

Subaru WRX

© Provided by MotorTrendFirst model year with an automatic transmission: 2015

Type of automatic: Continuously variable transmission

The WRX kind of cheats with its entry on the list because it had an automatic way back in 2002. But then Subaru took a break from its four-speed auto shenanigans -- the brand was changing over to CVTs -- and the WRX was solely driver-shifted from the 2011 to 2014 model years. Presently sold only in sedan guise, the WRX keeps leaning on its company's rallying heritage, even if it's built and set up more like a road racer now more than ever.

2015 Subaru WRX2015 Subaru WRX
ENGINE2.0L/268-hp/258-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve flat-42.0L/268-hp/258-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve flat-4
TRANSMISSIONCont. variable auto6-speed manual
0-60 MPH5.8 sec5.1 sec
QUARTER MILE14.5 sec @ 96.7 mph13.7 sec @ 100.2 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON19/25/21 mpg21/28/24 mpg

First Test: 2015 Subaru WRX CVT

"The transmission handled corner-carving duty just as well. In manual mode, the paddles shifted on command, and held whatever the selected gear was, even if the accelerator was pushed to the firewall. While the CVT won't fool the gearhead who's driven a sports car with a quick-shifting auto or dual-clutch, I suspect those new to sports cars -- the type of people Subaru is courting with the CVT -- will be plenty happy with the gearless wonder."

Can we still get a manual transmission? Yes.

Would we get the manual transmission? We don't recall our VHS WRC footage of 555s featuring CVTs (yes).

Volkswagen Golf R

© Provided by MotorTrendFirst model year with an automatic transmission: 2016 (est)

Type of automatic: 6-speed twin-clutch automatic

We've driven a couple European-specification, seventh-generation Golf Rs, but they've all had manual transmissions. That happened to be the story of the sixth-gen Golf R's life in the U.S. (2012-2013), where it didn't have its international counterpart's option of a six-speed twin-clutch auto. No more discrimination this time around, says Volkswagen. The fully defeatable stability control will make for a hoot of a ride, too.

2016 Volkswagen Golf R2015 Subaru WRX
ENGINE2.0L/290-hp/280-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-42.0L/256-hp/243-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION6-speed twin-clutch auto6-speed manual
0-60 MPH4.5 sec (MT est)5.8 sec
QUARTER MILEN/A14.2 sec @ 97.9 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON22/31/25 mpg (est)19/27/22 mpg

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R Euro Spec

"While Europe will get the Golf R in two- or four-door versions, we'll only see the four-door at launch in the U.S. Rumor has it that a two-door version hasn't been completely ruled out for the States, but it's not what I'd call likely, either. Buyers do -- fortunately -- still have a choice of transmissions. Both a conventional six-speed manual and a six-speed dual-clutch unit will be on offer, and Volkswagen says the DSG should achieve slightly better acceleration (0 to 60 mph in around 4.9 seconds)."

Can we still get a manual transmission? Yes.

Would we get the manual transmission? VW DSGs work pretty well, but we'll call this one a toss-up.

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