Less than 2% of all vehicles sold have a manual transmission. Come on Millennials, it’s the one that you have to push in the clutch and move the shift lever all by yourself. You’ll see an extra pedal in the driver’s footwell in a manual-shift car.
Sure, most automatic transmissions can shift faster and smoother than a human can. But where’s the fun in that? Shifting with a manual gearbox creates a closer connection between the driver and the car. You actually have to pay attention to what you’re doing. You hear and feel the engine speed increase; you’re connected to the car by the seat of your pants. Plus, manual shift cars tend to get better gas mileage. And they’re often cheaper than the automatic shift versions.
Interestingly, manual models are usually found at both high- and low-ends of the model range for efficiency-oriented cars and sporty trim levels.
The parents of a high school friend had a ’70-something Ford Granada coupe with a front bench seat and a three-speed on the floor. My friend’s dad was a notorious tightwad, so it was probably the cheapest car he could find. I imagine he got it used; I don’t think he’d order a new car from a dealer, even with the stripped-down trim level. Sports car purists turn their nose up at cars with “manu-matics” or paddle shifters, even though today’s electronics are smoother than even the most professional driver.
Here’s a look at 10 cars that are available with a manual gearbox in 2020.
The pint-size Spark comes with a five-speed manual mated with its 1.4-liter engine. It’s one of the cheapest new cars on the market.
Kia’s popular sedan offers a six-speed manual option in the FE and GT trims. The GT also boasts 201 horsepower for a little extra punch.
A six-speed manual is standard on the Veloster base 2.0-liter four, the turbocharged 1.6-liter four, or the sporty Veloster N with the turbocharged 2.0-liter four.
The Crosstrek blurs the line between a tall hatchback and a small SUV. Two versions, the 2.0i and Premium models, come standard with three pedals and a stick shift.
The Honda Civic is probably one of the most popular manual transmission cars on the road today. The hatchback, coupe, and sedan are available with manual transmission options. For more driving fun, check out the powerful Civic Si and rip-snorting Civic Type R.
Every version of the Camaro is available with a six-speed, from the base 1LS with the turbo 2.0-liter up to the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 ZL1 1LE track special. Sporty models like the ZL1 feature rev-matching to make downshifting easier and less likely to grind the gears.
The V8 versions of Mopar’s muscle car come standard with a six-speed manual, including the boisterous Hellcat Widebody.
All Mustang models from the EcoBoost to the GT Convertible are available with the choice of a manual transmission. A few versions, like the movie homage Bullitt and the race-inspired Shelby GT350, are manual only.
The 2 series is available with a six-speed manual in the rear-drive 230i and M240i coupes, the M240i convertible, the BMW M2 Competition and the top-of-the-line M2 CS. It’s not available on the all-wheel-drive versions. Rev-matching technology blips the throttle on downshifts to make gear changes smoother.
Porsche 718 Boxster / 718 Cayman
The drop-top Boxster and its hard-top sibling the Cayman are available with a six-speed, and a few trims that are manual-only. In this case, the manual saves about $3,000 from the price of the seven-speed automatic.
This list is only a sampling of manual-transmission cars still on the market. If these don’t excite you, here are more you can investigate for yourself:
- Mazda Miata
- Fiat 124
- Porsche 911
- Fiat 500 Genesis G70
- Honda Accord
- Jeep Wrangler
- Kia Soul Mini
- Nissan 370Z
- Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES
- Nissan Frontier
- Nissan Sentra
- Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ
- Toyota Supra
- Subaru Impreza/WRX
- Volkswagen Golf
- Volkswagen Jetta