A Ray of Hope Manual Transmissions Haven’t Met the End of the Road

2015 Audi S5 6-speed manual

A manual transmission is more engaging and fun, requires more skill, and makes the driver better. Unfortunately, today more and more people are choosing the convenience and ease of an automatic transmission over driving a manual transmission. This trend has been ongoing for years. In response to this trend, there a fewer new cars on the market being offered with a manual. Is driving a stick shift becoming a lost art form or will dual-clutch automatics displace the manual transmission? Considering how fun driving a manual transmission car is, it’s unfortunate that many future drivers will have less opportunities to master the skill of manual shifting, rev-matching, and the heel-and-toe technique.

As we watch the percentage of cars sold with manual transmission shrinking, there is some good news buried under the torque converter. Automotive website iSeeCars conducted a study, with direct input from BoldRide, which scrutinized buyer behaviors. The question was put to the buyers, “Who drives a manual these days?” After analyzing nearly 10 million new car sales from 2014 and 2015, there is a ray of hope for the manual transmission.

Percentage of New Cars Sold with Manual Transmission by Car Type
2014 2015
Sports Cars 23.6% 21.7%
Coupe 16.5% 17.0%
Hatchback 10.6% 12.5%
Convertible 9.2% 4.7%
Wagon 2.8% 2.3%
Sedan 2.2% 2.4%
Pickup 0.3% 0.2%
Crossover/SUV 0.1% 0.0%

While the overall number of buyers opting for new cars with a manual transmission fell below two percent for the 2015 model year, the interesting part is that the selection of a manual in some vehicle segments actually grew a fraction of a percent. Sport coupes sold with manual transmissions rose up to 17.0%, from a percentage of 16.5% in 2014. Bigger gains were seen in the hatchback category jumping from 10.6 percent in 2014 to 12.5 percent in 2015 – just shy of a two percent increase.

Not surprising, the sports car segment – and the most obvious choice for stirring the gears – still has the largest share of cars with a manual. Sadly, their portion for model year 2015 has dropped almost two points to 21.7% from 23.6% in 2014.

Are you the type of driver who likes to row their own gears? Check out TFL Cars’ comprehensive list of model year 2015 cars that still come with a manual gearbox.

Emme Hall believes all sports cars should have a manual transmission. Thankfully, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 has a 6-speed manual. You can watch Emme’s driving impressions of the new Mazda MX-5 below: