Five Modern Sports Cars That Should Never, Ever Be Ordered With an Automatic Transmission
Any self-respecting car lover knows that to buy a sports car or supercar without a manual transmission (if given the choice) is unforgivable sacrilege. I understand that all new exotics don’t even offer a stick anymore, but that doesn’t mean their aged predecessors shipped only with dual pedals. Here are five modern sports cars that should never, under any circumstance, be bought without the ability to row your own gears.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
The MX-5 is the opposite of everything else on the American market: it’s a small, lightweight roadster, and it couldn’t care less about navigation systems, Bluetooth compatibility, or comfort. Engine output is as irrelevant to the MX-5 as it is to a Prius, but handling is another story. The MX-5’s singular purpose is to clone its goofy smile onto yours as it attacks corners with reckless abandon, and it deserves not to be neutered with that stupid stepped tranny that appears on the options sheet. With the six-speed auto in place, engine output is reduced by 9hp, with a redline appearing 500rpm earlier than in the standard transmission. There are few cars these days that punish owners for ordering the optional transmission, but Mazda does its part to steer buyers toward the light.
Scion FR-S/Toyota GT-86/Subaru BRZ
Here we have another lightweight coupe powered by a 2.0L four cylinder, but one that’s a bit more raucous than the Miata. Like the Miata, emphasis is placed on the driving experience, and the sport bucket seats plant the driver just inches off the ground. 200hp is sent to the rear wheels, making the FR-S a drift-happy little sports car whose sticker price won’t break the bank. Buyers of the auto don’t get to fully experience the joy of pushing such a car to its extremes, so why limit oneself?
Any V8 Pony Car
Congratulations, you’ve purchased a Mustang/Camaro/Challenger and joined the ranks of millions of Americans before you who love raw, (relatively) cheap power in the form of a V8 producing in excess of 375hp! But, just like many of those poor, confused souls of yesteryear, you optioned your retro sled with an automatic transmission and a potential Future Classic has a nice cannonball-sized hole where the value used to be. A honking 5.0-6.2L V8 crammed into your engine bay HAS to have a manual transmission in tow, because that’s the American way. They may not rotate effortlessly like the FR-S, but that doesn’t mean you’ve graduated to a full grand tourer just yet.
This, however, is a GT, and should also never be ordered with the non-manual transmission for two reasons. On one hand, the semi-automatic alternative suffers from jerky upshifts and downshifts, while also completely wasting the ultracool shifter. The price for unruly behavior is a cool $9,100. The manual version, besides being worthy of such a neat supercar, shares the same grippy handle, and each gear change gives off an addictive snick-snack as the shifter makes it way into the next gate.
If you have the Acura NSX with a four-speed slushbox, stay away from car meets. NSX diehards will skin you alive.
Photos courtesy of Mazda, Scion, Ford, Audi, and Car and Driver