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Racing car aficionados ...

==> Racing car aficionados will probably send me hate mail for this, but my experience has been that there is only one case, in normal driving, where a good automatic transmission is inferior to a manual transmission.

So ... umm ... I guess I missed it.

What, exactly, is (in normal driving), the case where a good automatic transmission is inferior?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Sgt. Sausage
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

When the engine is running???  I wondered too.

5v3n
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I have a very good (Lexus) automatic transmission in my car and the only thing I can think of doing handbrake-turns or handbrake-parking.

I guess these are not possible without the clutch control that a manual would give.

Steve Jones (UK)
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

As an aside, I drive a stick and the only time I don't like it is in stop and go traffic.

5v3n
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Engine Breaking?

_
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Engine Braking, of course.

Sassy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A manual transmission gives you better control of the engine in general. A/B comparisons on race tracks have shown that a good driver can get better times with a manual. Automatic transmissions are always realtime so to speak, where as a driver can see the road ahead and prepare.

Eric Debois
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Funny, I've always found automatics faintly unnerving. 

I realise this is purely cultural.  Most people in the UK learn on manuals (since if you pass your driving test on an automatic you are only licenced to drive automatics) and most drive manuals.

a cynic writes...
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I live in Minnesota and feel much safer and more in-control with a manual when driving on ice or in snow.

Fangio
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

You can't push start an auto.

Data Miner
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

You'd think the UK would be crazy for automatics, because who wants to keep shifting and wearing out their shin bone sitting on a stiff clutch in all that traffic?

Larry
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Automatics are better when dealing with boats on trailers.  When putting in and taking out at the landing you don't want to be modulating a clutch with that much weight back there as you fine-tune the position of the trailer.

This is only an issue with trucks though ...

cheeto
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Ah but outside of rush hour (and the consequent traffic jams), our roads are narrower, with more bends and higher speed limits.  Plus  - most of us learnt on a manual.

a cynic writes...
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Plus manuals are more fuel efficient. And I see some of you Americans have been complaining about rising fuel prices - in the UK, they're already some 60-70% higher!

James 'Smiler' Farrer
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Throwing a car with auto trans into a hard downhill corner means letting off gas and braking hard into the turn. 

With a manual tranny you can downshift into the turn and just tap the brakes into the corner.

Also, with a manual tranny you can downshift from a higher gear at speed and overrev the engine, which can give you a huge RPM boost when you need it.

That being said,  I drive auto cars, because I'm a commuter.  These are mostly racing techniques.

Sassy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Sassy - they might be racing techniques but I use the last one most days coming off Sadler's Farm Roundabout* on my way to work every morning.

* for anyone not living in south Essex it's one big roundabout made up of 5 mini-roundabouts and some filter lanes.  Going onto it from any direction is a traffic jam and leaving it is a drag race (with the added fun of 3 lanes going down to 2 on the A13 London bound). 

a cynic writes...
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"Plus manuals are more fuel efficient..."

Not necessarily. Most automatic transmission losses were the result of the fluid coupling in auto transmissions (which is how you can be totally stopped in gear), however most modern automatics have a lock-up converter (or some such terminology) that physically locks both sides at speed - there is no such loss on these cars. Additionally electronic gear control is often more intelligent about the parameters (such as the heat of the engine, etc) to make the best choices.

Best of all, of course, are continuously variable transmissions.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The shiftable automatic transmissions are becoming more and more common. They are standard in all the high end cars in the US, and some of the lower-end cars, like Subaru are starting to put them in.  I believe a lot of F1 racing cars use them too. With a shiftable automatic you can do pretty much anything you can with manual, except for the push start. Before poeple complain about lag with shiftable automatics, go chech out BMW's SSG or SSG2 inspired - from what I've read it better than manual.

igor
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

heheh, I'm with you cynic.  I take runs up the hills whenever I can.

BTW, I drive an Auto BMW Mini Cooper with a Tiptronic (auto w/ shifting).  Nice bang for the buck.

Sassy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

All F1 cars use shiftable autos now.  But f1 cars don;t have starters or reverse, so what's that saying.

Porsche / BMW  have excellent shiftable auto trannys, I think it's a great system.

Sassy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Back when I owned a car :-)  I found a manual gearbox made it much easier to "rock" it (i.e. shift rapidly between 1st and reverse) when attempting to free oneself from snow (or mud or gravel) ... the latency of shifts made it a lot tougher to do with an automatic.

And the ability to roll-start a manual saved me MANY times what with some of the heaps I used to drive...

- former car owner in Queens
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Give me a Hewland box anyday.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

F1 cars are not shiftable autos. They are manual transmissions with a computer controlled automatic clutch. It's the same technology as any old manual except when you hit the paddle to shift, the computer declutches, matches RPM, shifts, and reclutches. For very high end cars, this is starting to appear as as an computer controlled automatic.

This is completely different from the shiftable (tiptronic) automatics.

MilesArcher
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

(As an occasional weekend racer...)
Basically, the torque converter in an auto does not put any force from the engine to the wheels unless you are on the accelerator. This creates a problem when corners are involved. Firstly, there is no resistance from the engine when coming into a corner, and you can't 'trail brake'. Then, when you get back on the accelerator, the engine has to wind back up from idle speed, so there is no way of modulating the throttle, which steers the car when you are on the edge (this is the real killer). Not to mention that autos have a tendency to downshift mid way through a corner, when you get back on the accelerator. This makes the car very unstable and you can spin (once again, only if you are on the edge). 

You can use the 'manual' mode (or buttons on the steering wheel) which works around some of these problems, however you can't rev-match on upshift, and this will spin you if you're not careful (although only if you're on the edge, which hopefully is only the race track).

BMW M3s, Ferraris, and F1 cars have a manual box with an automatic clutch, which does rev-matching and other fancy things.

I drive an IS200 sometimes during the week, and the auto has a horrible tendency to downshift at the most inopportune time. Which is why I'll take our little MX5 (Miata for non Australians) whenever I can :) Driving a manual is hugely satisfying if you know how.

Rhys Keepence
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I think automatics are inferior when you're intensely interested in the experience of driving for its own sake.

I was quite unable to learn on a manual, and the fact of needing an automatic doesn't bother me, since I just have a utilitarian wish to get from A to B in one piece.

Of course my decision horrified everyone I knew, since most British people cherish driving as an art, but each to their own, eh.

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, June 17, 2004

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