Saving the Manual (Sort Of)
Back in 2010, then-editor of Car and Driver Eddie Alterman started a crusade named “Save the Manuals!,” a seemingly quixotic effort to maintain the existence of manual transmissions in an age where the third pedal was being eliminated from cars of all types. As Alterman wrote, “Even sports-car stalwart Ferrari, of gated shifter fame, isn’t providing a three-pedal option on the new 458 Italia.”
Since 2010, things haven’t gotten much better for the partisans of the clutch.
But there is a bit of brightness. At least for those who are interested in getting a high-performance vehicle that has a starting MSRP of $179,995.
(Image: Aston Martin)
Aston Martin has announced that the Vantage AMR, which is powered by a 503-hp, 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, is being equipped with a Graziano seven-speed manual transmission.
Andy Palmer, who is president and group CEO of Aston Martin Lagonda, made his beliefs about manuals rather forcefully: “When I joined this company [in 2014], customers asked and, as a gearbox engineer and racer, I promised that we would always offer a manual transmission in our line-up. The Vantage AMR not only honours that commitment but sets us apart from our competitors in continuing to offer a three-pedal option. In a world of autonomous robo-taxis, Aston Martin will continue to advance the art and science of performance driving. With the Vantage AMR, we have created a thoroughly modern sports car that rewards effort and focus from the driver; the antidote to driving a computer game.”
One interesting fact about the Vantage AMR is that by replacing an automatic transmission with the seven-speed and making carbon ceramic brakes standard, the mass of the car is reduced by 209 pounds. (Total dry weight: 3298 pounds.)
While there is a manual, it isn’t exactly total redemption for the type of transmission: there are just 200 of the cars to be made.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.
The 2016 model is all-new. As in platform and everything else. And the platform—which will have global use—was developed in North America.
The thing about the Wrangler Willys Wheeler: It is a toy for a grown-up boy.