Manuals can be fun, but modern cars perform better with automatic gearboxes

The manual transmission is slowly dying. It probably won’t disappear for good, as some carmakers might still offer it as an option, but the overwhelming majority of passenger cars will feature automatic gearboxes in the near future. And gearheads are very upset. I’m also a fan of the manual transmission, and I couldn’t really see myself drive an automatic, but the truth is automatics are much better nowadays. These smart gearboxes know when to shift, and they do it quick, which improves both performance and fuel economy. While in some cases and depending on road conditions, fuel economy might still be a bit better with a manual, automatic cars are clearly quicker than three-pedal models. And the folks over at Donut Media just put together a list of great 13 cars that never had a manual to prove a point.

Manual Transmissions are Great, but Cars Can Be Great Without One

We’re not going to list all the cars here, but just run by a few of them for a better understanding as to why an automatic is actually better than a manual in many cases. First on the list, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, a street-legal drag racer.

The Demon is the quickest production car ever because it hits 60 mph in just 2.3 seconds. This incredible benchmark is possible thanks to its automatic transmission.

The same goes for its impressive quarter-mile times. All these require consistent acceleration, something a manual can’t deliver.

Here's Why Cars Don't Need Manual Transmissions to be Great
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Then we have the Ford Crown Victoria. Built for an incredible 20 years with minor changes, the Crown Vic is proof that rock-solid and popular cars don’t need a manual. This sedan was sold with a four-speed automatic only, and that didn’t bother fleet customers, taxi drivers, cops, and regular customers.

Here's Why Cars Don't Need Manual Transmissions to be Great
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The Nissan GT-R is another good example. When it debuted back in 2007, some enthusiasts were disappointed that it didn’t have a manual. Some 13 years later, the GT-R hasn’t change much, and it’s still quicker than many supercars from Ferrari and Lamborghini. Granted, the AWD system plays a key role here, but so does the over-engineered and incredibly quick and precise automatic gearbox.

Even Toyota realized that a manual transmission makes a performance car slower, so it abandoned the clutch setup for the fifth-generation Supra. And needless to say, it can hit 60 mph in less than four seconds.

Here's Why Cars Don't Need Manual Transmissions to be Great
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Automatics are great for trucks, too, especially when it comes to high-performance haulers. Back in 1991, GMC rolled out the Syclone, a 280-horsepower pickup that was quicker than a Ferrari on the quarter-mile. It was also the fastest accelerating vehicle of 1991. It achieved all that with an automatic transmission, as GM didn’t have a manual to handle the rear-biased torque split and the performance. Ford did the same for the F-150 SVT Lightning, opting to use an automatic from a heavy-duty truck.

The list includes seven more vehicles, many of them iconic in their own right. So hit the play button to find out about other great cars that didn’t have manual transmissions.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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