How to use manumatic transmission?
October 16, 2005 2:05 PM   Subscribe

How do I get the most out of my manumatic transmission?

I know it's not the same as a real manual transmission, but I'm "stuck" with a manumatic for now. I've never driven a "stick" shift before. Anyone have any tips on how to maximize the utility and enjoyment of my manumatic? Thanks.
posted by bobbeene to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The old cannard for shifting that I've heard is - hang something from the rear view mirror - like a rosary or pendant. When you accelerate, it swings back. When it starts to swing forward again, let up on the gas and shift up.

As far as shifting down, check your car manual for the speed ranges of the gears. Normally, you don't shift all the way to first unless you've come to a complete stop.

They're a lot of fun, but remember to keep an eye on traffic.
posted by Orb2069 at 2:41 PM on October 16, 2005

Just leave it in drive, your car knows how to shift better than you do.

The manumatic transmission is little more than a sales tool. It is used to convince you that the auto will be just as much fun as a manual, but convenient in traffic and on hills. Autos are good enough these days that there is really no good reason to have one, 95% of the time.

Of course, if you have a sports car with a powerful engine, it is nice to be able to shift early all the time for fuel economy, or let the engine wind all the way up for max acceleration. For daily driving, it isn't necessary to try to outguess the auto.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:05 PM on October 16, 2005

I've driven a handful of manumatics (including some fairly powerful cars) and they all seem to be missing the visceral feedback that a traditional clutch/gearshift gives you. There is nothing like the feeling of downshifting into a corner, blipping the throttle and carrying your speed through the exit. I could never get the same technique down with the manumatic - I always felt too removed from the car. Maybe the very high-end paddle-shifters, such as those found on a Ferrari, can emulate the experience, but I doubt that's what we're discussing here.

Anyway, my advice is to watch the tach and learn the feel/sound/approximate speed when each gear hits redline. Once that becomes second nature, you can probably learn to sense when is the right time to upshift and downshift.
posted by mullacc at 5:18 PM on October 16, 2005

Well, my real advice is, like the others have said, just leave it in drive. Your car probably has a "sport" mode that provides for a more aggresive shifting pattern - use that for teh fun.
posted by mullacc at 5:19 PM on October 16, 2005

...and they all seem to be missing the visceral feedback that a traditional clutch/gearshift gives you.

Agreed, though the ones I've driven seem to vary - My father's Passat was rather unpleasant to drive in that mode, as it seemed to have a very low threshold for "taking over" and making your shifts when it thought you'd exceeded its built-in limits. My car (Mazda 6) will let you rev in any gear until you hit the redline and only drops back into first when you're about to stop.

That being said, I've found the only time it really comes in handy is when I'm accelerating into traffic, and the semi-manual shift lets me avoid waiting for a kickdown into a lower gear and allows me to hold the lower gear longer. (I've no option for a "sport" vs. a "comfort" auto-shift pattern).

99% of the time I drive it in full automatic. I've also heard that downshifting with what is in essence an automatic transmission puts quite a bit of wear and tear on things. I'd probably skip using it.
posted by jalexei at 6:11 PM on October 16, 2005

I've also heard that downshifting with what is in essence an automatic transmission puts quite a bit of wear and tear on things.

These gearboxes differ greatly in design. BMW's offering is correctly billed as a sequential manual gearbox, and is like driving a stick, but with the ability to change gears far faster and more efficiently than any human.

The manually controlled automatics are far less interesting, but are still good toys, no matter what the nay-sayers might proclaim.

You generally want to keep your engine in it's maximum torque range during interesting driving, but don't shift while cornering. You want to downshift while braking (but be careful in the wet), and also use engine braking while descending significant inclines. Upshift timing depends on how fast you want to get to speed... don't be that jackass who revs the hell out of his car without doing anything notable.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:09 PM on October 16, 2005

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