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When is Manual Transmission Better?

In his latest missive http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/APIWar.html Joel states that "there is only one case, in normal driving, where a good automatic transmission is inferior to a manual transmission." 

Any ideas as to what case Joel has in mind? 

My first few thoughts I can discount:  I tend to get better gas mileage on standard than automatic, but I wouldn't be surprised if a "good" automatic transmission could do even better.  I am more prone to use the manual transmission to help slow down the car, but you can manually downshift in an automatic transmission too.

Thanks.

Jonathan
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Engine braking isn't really practical with an automatic, and getting it into the right gear when going around a corner doesn't happen. In broad strokes, Joel is right about this. And the analogy is pretty apt.

I totally agree with the memory managment argument he makes. However, I think 0.1% of the improvement you get from VB over C is the fact that VB isn't case sensitive.

MilesArcher
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I assume it is when you are raw-hiding the car through a corner.  You want to down-shift BEFORE you enter the corner, because at the limits of adhesion IN the corner you don't want to shift.

Then you use a little of the engine breaking to slow you down, as well as stepping on the brakes yourself.  You get off the brakes before you are actually in the turn.  Then, going through the turn, you roll on the gas.  You up-shift when you are out of the turn.  This procedure preserves your traction as much as possible.

An automatic transmission in this circumstance would downshift when you rolled-on the gas -- giving you a power glitch to the wheels when you least want one.

YMMV.

AllanL5
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

In a performance driving situation, as Allen noted, you can extract a lot more power by downshifting into the turn, tapping the brake, and getting right back on the gas. 

Also on downhill sweepers, mountain roads, and off-camber turns you can really tune your power with a manual.  Finally, you can overrev a manual tranny when you need a bunch of RPMs (passing on the inside, for example)

Sassy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

There is only one occasion when a manual gearbox is superior to an automatic one, and that's when you want to drive properly.

Of course, once you get old, bald and fat like me automatic is just easier.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

You're all wrong. It's when there are several inches of snow on the ground.

old_timer
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Quick getaway situations. You have to look at the indicator in an automatic to make sure it's in the proper gear, whereas you can put a manual into gear without even looking.

Derek
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

It really depends on how good the auto trans is.

I drive a 2003 MB SLK320 (5 speed auto stick, with the v6 and the way cool retractable roof).

The accelerations performance of the auto trans is the same as the stick in magazine tests. Of course, the reasons as to why auto trans are NOT such slugs anymore is we now have as many gears as what standard trans had (well, ok..now that we got 5 in a auto..most of the manuals now got 6 gears!).  The first gear on this auto is VERY tight.

Further, there is a auto-stick mode, where you can shift manually, and also if you hold the stick (it is a right/left pressure you click to shift gears up/down) you can keep the car in the gear you want so you don't get that horrible shift right in the middle of corner!

So, yes…at the end of the day a manual trans is better. but not enough to make that much difference anymore.

So, the same applies to computers, and for most stuff, managed memory systems are good enough.


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

<<
You have to look at the indicator in an automatic to make sure it's in the proper gear, whereas you can put a manual into gear without even looking.
>>

Obviously you don't drive an automatic.  I never look at the shifter or the indicator.  I know where the "Drive" gear is, just like you and your manual ;-)

//\
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Driving in snow (both accel and decel), passing (deterministically gearing down), fuel economy, keeping both hands engaged so you can't talk on your damn cell phone...

Billy Boy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I had a car with an auto once that would shift properly during spirited turns. Lots of fun!

Fred
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

If you're got a flat battery, it's a damn sight easier to push start a car with a manual transmission than it is in an automatic...  ;-)

TheGeezer
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I'm stuck deciding between pushing to start when the battery's dead and engine braking.

Manual isn't always better in the snow - the best car I ever drove in the snow was a Chevy Vega.  It was so underpowered there was no way to spin the tires even on ice. 

Ward
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Manual transmissions are more efficent than automatics.  From an energy conservation stand point.  However autos are getting better and the fact that a human controls the manual transmission and can drive in a way the ruins the efficeny advantage.  Add in the CV's and auto shifting manuals then the I can't see any advantages of the manual anymore.

But my opion here is the one instance the manual its better, for impressing the chicks!

Bill Rushmore
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I prefer manuals, as does my wife.

That having been said, my father recently bought a Toyota 4Runner (automatic), and he admitted it was a bit spooky when, on a long downhill with some braking to maintain speed, the car *downshifted* on its own.  Pretty cool.

Rich
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

When you want to have fun!

earthling
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

As far as snow (and mud) are concerned, I have a basic preference for manual. However, when the manual doesn't have first and reverse on the same gate, rocking the car to get unstuck is a bit of a challenge. It's even more of a challenge when somebody decides that you have to push the shift lever down into the transmission in order to clear the gate into reverse :)

Given my budget and driving environment, I've long since given up on manual transmissions.

Ron Porter
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

No no, everyone's got it wrong.  The one instance where manuals are superior are in arcade games, where if you select manual transmission, you are given a 5mph over your automatic-transmission-racecar-driving competitors.

I'm sure that's what he meant.

pds
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

What does this have to do with software?!

This entire thread should be DELETED immediately!! Arrrggh!!

Ok, I'm going to continue blowing my boyfriend's pink trumpet now...

Elephant
Saturday, June 19, 2004

Automatics are better if you are a little girl and can't drive stick.  But if you aren't a little wussy then you should get a manual.  And those new automatics where you can switch it to manual and shift yourself - those are crap, stick with the true manual.  Ever tried to double clutch an automatic?  Doesn't work so well......

Only time automatics are better is when your lady friend is trying to show you a good time while you are driving, if you know what I mean.

Peter Man
Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Manual Transmission keeps the driver physically and Mentally in tune with the road & their surroundings. This results in safety for me & you. 

D. Dion
Thursday, July 08, 2004

You'll are so correct, with a manual gear u get a hndbrake advantage, like for instance ur driving down and ur brake doesn't seem to catch fast u just, put it in neutral or match the clutch and pull the hand brake while turning the steering in ur escape path: but u can't try that with a auto 'cause theirs no clutch u'll just damage the whole gear box, also even if u use the neutral on the auto, it still doesn't work right, u feel me?

Yankee Brothers
Monday, July 12, 2004

i just want to say that i am looking for my car some dumbfucker jacked it. Man if i find the hoe ass nigga that jacked my car , damn man i fuck you in in the head mother fucker

car dude
Monday, July 12, 2004

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