How to swap cogs like a pro

In the never-ending quest to be a better driver, there’s a few techniques and terms you’ll run into time and again. Heel-toe and clutchless shifting are two very common examples, offering a way to execute buttery-smooth gear changes that won’t upset the drivetrain or the car’s balance at speed, both of which are critical when driving at the limit.

Luckily, there’s the Team O’Neil Rally School, which not only offers hands-on experience with in-depth driving classes at its facility in New Hampshire, but also these helpful videos to give you a basic understanding of what these techniques entail and why they’re important.

First up is heel toe, which is a way to efficiently downshift under braking without upsetting the car’s balance. Essentially, heel toe involves putting the clutch in with your left foot and braking with your right, then moving the shifter to neutral. From there, you use the side of your foot (or “heel”) to “blip” the throttle, bringing up the engine rpms to match those of the rest of the drivetrain and wheels. Properly executed, the shifter should slide into the lower gear with ease, and when you let out the clutch, there should be no jerking in the drivetrain, giving you a smooth downshift under braking. The throttle blips also sound pretty cool.

Next up is clutchless shifting, which is all about feeling out where the engine and drivetrain match up in terms of rpm, then sliding the transmission into gear at just the right moment. This is a good technique to use if you have some kind of clutch failure, or for you simply don’t want to mess about with trick heel toe shifting, but be warned, it can be pretty hard on your transmission if improperly executed.

Finally, it goes without saying that if you want to try these techniques for yourself, make sure to do them in a safe environment!

Further Reading

2018 Subaru WRX High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru WRX.

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