Know How To Shift A Stick? Mini Explains Manual Transmissions For You

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While automatic transmissions are more efficient than ever before -- and many now beat manual transmissions on gas mileage -- fans of stick-shift gearboxes are quick to point out that guiding your car into the right gear with your right hand is a sure-fire way to give you an enjoyable, efficient driving experience. 

But what if you’ve driven automatic all your life? What if you’re a stick-shift virgin, and worry that you’re going to change too early (or too late) your first time? 

Help is at hand, courtesy of MINI. Squirreled away on its main website since 2011 is a little tongue-in-cheek section devoted to getting manual-shifting newbies gliding from gear to gear like a pro. 

Called “We’ll Make A Manual Out Of You,” the section is designed to answer questions that buyers may have about making the switch from automatic to manual, and gives some basic reasons why MINI thinks stick is best.

Those include a lower starting price, better gas mileage, and a more defined left calf. Err...okay.

For lovers of infographics like us, there’s a rather lengthy Stick-vs-Automatic infographic, which MINI says was collected by information-gathering firm Hunch with answers from over 65,000 drivers.

It tells us that stick-shift drivers tend to be more educated than those who drive automatic, are more likely to be optimists, and prefer watching the Discovery Channel over HBO.

But perhaps the best part of the MINI manual site -- and we can’t believe we’ve not seen this before -- is “Becoming a Manual."

Set in the locker room of an all-American school in the 1950s, Coach gives you the lowdown on why you shouldn’t be scared about noticing changes in your car’s interior, why it’s okay to feel ‘fuzzy,’ and just how to coordinate your right hand and both feet for the ‘purest form of motoring bliss.’

And while most stick-shifters are male, Coach is keen to point out that “anyone who craves more exhilaration” can heighten their automotive pleasure with a stick shift. 

Do you drive stick? Do you yearn to be a manual?

Let us know in the Comments below.


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Comments (19)
  1. There is NO point of driving an EV in the modern age with today's technology.

    Manual offers NO advantage in the EV case. I have driven manual transmission for over 20 years. I love it with an ICE but it gives NO advantage at all for a well designed EV. Not to mention the extra service required to change clutch between 150k miles to 200k miles.

  2. "There is NO point of driving an EV in the modern age with today's technology."

    I meant to say that "there is NO point of driving an EV with a manual transmission in the modern age with today's technology"....

    I wish GCR allows "editing"... That would be a nice feature.

  3. Besides maybe early (pre-production only?) Tesla Roadsters, aren't all EVs single-speed/fixed-gear anyway?

    That'd make the distinction between manual and automatic pretty pointless I think.

  4. Well, yes.

    But eventually high power/high performance EVs will need another gear for the ultra high speed driving.

    Electric motors have broad torque curve and can get up to significant high rpm. But eventually the power curve will start to drop due to magnetic inertia (the magnets are satured and can't switch fast enough). At that point, it is better to low the motor speed by switching into another gear.

    It is NOT needed for most EVs today. But if anyone is willing to have a good with both low end speed and 150mph+ top speed and performance, then another gear will be needed.

  5. Given the motor characteristics of an electric drive, a crude 2 gear planetary gearbox with wide-spread-apart gears would possibly do, don't you think?

  6. Absolutely!

    No clutch is needed.

  7. I believe it's practical for electric buses. The Proterra has a 2-speed transmission and were working on a 3-speed adapted from a 6-speed Corvette.

  8. Also, one thing to note about the survey is that the two groups are can and can't drive a stick shift. It is different from are driving a stick and are driving an automatic.

  9. I learned to drive in a car with an automatic, I tried learning to drive a manual and hated it. But being that my next car is going to be electric I really don't care if I ever learn. And in the area of classic cars some of my favorite classics had optional automatic gearboxes.

  10. A car with a stick shift is about as needed as a sail boat with a stick shift.

  11. They forgot one in the graphic...when driving a stick I'm 100% more likely to get annoyed in traffic.

  12. Good point: as an European, and maybe even more as an Italian I'm devoted to stick shift, but it is indeed very annoying in heavy traffic.
    A solution like the ancient Citroen DS with the "half automatic gearbox" could be a good in-between (but the original which I had the opportunity to drive is soooooo slow in changing gears! :o) )

  13. I drove in the densest European city traffic every day, sometimes for 2.5 hours for only 25 km, in a manual, and if I had to do it all over again, I would still do it only in a manual.

    I do not know if you ever drove an automatic, but the experience is so horrible, that if you are a car enthusiast, it could psychologically scar you for life, and no, I am not kidding. Automatic transmission vehicles are an insult to one's intelligence, not to mention one's ability.

  14. If people actually had to drive their cars rather than just steer them there would be less cell phone use while driving since people would have to pay closer attention to what they're doing.

  15. I have owned many cars and am driving a car with stick shift. Not every manual transmission is designed and built equally. My favorite are BMW and Honda. These stick shift cars are a great pleasure to drive. My least favorite are Fiat and, unfortunately, the 2013 Passat TDI which I am driving. I even prefer the old cluch-less stick shift VW Beetle in the 70's to the current VW stick shift.

  16. I learned to drive on a manual. Then for a number of years I drove nothing but automatic transmission vehicles, and I hated every microsecond of it. Even today, if I find myself in an automatic, I will shift to "N" at the traffic light, and if it is a manumatic, I will tell it when to shift, as the shift computer program is terrible and shifts too late and too sloppily. And if I am driving down hill and the program does not shut off the injectors, I will downshift manually from "D" to "3" or even "2".

    So even when I have the misfortune or am forced to drive an automatic, I will still attempt to drive it like a manual. And the lack of a clutch pedal, oh how I hate that!

    I will drive manual transmission vehicles until I die.

  17. B/c you like a system that is obsolete...

  18. It is not obsolete in Europe and the rest of the world!

    In fact, automatics are quite rare in Europe, because nobody has any need for them. If you want to buy a car there, you had better learn how to drive a manual, because you would be hard pressed to find an automatic!

  19. i like how manuals can hypermile and restart the engine with the clutch. A big bonus for me!

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