IS ‘SNICKETY’ THE MOST DESIRABLE ADJECTIVE? ‘Slick’ and ‘positive’ are oft-used, but I think ‘snickety’ is reserved for special occasions. Is ‘sloppy’ less desirable than ‘agricultural’ or ‘obstructive’? If I said ‘knuckly’, which manufacturer would you think of? ‘Click-clack’ used to instantly summon images of Ferraris until Audi realised there was no copyright.
The manual gearbox has a very definite language. You can still select a gear with a paddle, but you can’t ‘slot’ second or ‘punch’ into third. The exploratory waggle to check for neutral is only available with a stick. Resorting to first while moving is always worthy of mention. ‘Heel-and-toe’, ‘power shift’, ‘dog-leg’… all things that are banished from write-ups on two-pedal cars.
Why mention this? Well, I think it shows just how much a manual shift brings to the driving experience in a car. I don’t want this to be seen as an article that is negative towards paddles. A world without the theatre of a Ferrari 812 Superfast’s rapid-fire downshifts would be a much poorer place. And if you’re trying to set a lap time then there is no question that PDK, DCT, DSG and their ilk allow you to shave crucial tenths and will help get most of us closer to mimicking the sort of metronomic precision that is desirable lap after lap. They’re easier in traffic too.
But as good as paddleshifts are, manuals still matter. They are the vinyl to music’s Spotify. The log fire to the electric radiator. The mechanical instead of the quartz watch. The magazine feature to the online article. It’s about more than the end result of a changed gear, music heard, heat produced, time told or information imparted.
When you ponder what the simple pull of a paddle is replacing, it’s quite astounding. The actual movement of a gearstick from one gear to another is only a small part of the feel and dance of a shift. For a start, there is the way that you dip the clutch. Is that left-hand pedal hefty enough to require gym visits or so light that you stamp the carpet first time out? Does the clutch have a high or low biting point? Engagement like a light switch or worryingly slurry? And how much pedal travel do you have to play with?
Then there is the throttle pedal that requires lifting and reapplying (or perhaps doesn’t if you’re a road tester trying to shave another tenth from a 0-10kmph run). Right foot timed, of course, with the action of left foot, while speed and aggression are appropriately matched with the swiftness of the lever across the gate. Different shifts will require different lengths of time and consequently this might have an impact on your decision to even make them. Last gasp into a corner while braking hard you might think that slamming forward from fourth to third in a six-speed ’box is possible, whereas pulling back and across from third to second with the need to change vertical plane is not.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Yes, it's another special edition Polo
Matt Edition of the Polo GT will arrive in time for the festive season
Mother of Pearl
Lamborghini has brought in the Urus Pearl Capsule to India, along with the MY2021 Urus
Making tyre buying easy
CEAT Tyres has gone the extra mile to make tyre shopping easier with its new label ratings system
Volvo India plans to accelerate its growth by launching four new cars by 2022
Named after a temple in Cambodia, the Bayon is set to strengthen Hyundai’s SUV lineup
The fourth SUVW
5-seater Tiguan to return in petrol-only avatar
Headed by GVCVC, the Palace to Palace Vintage Drive had some of the rarest cars plying on Goa’s streets
BIJOY KUMAR Y
Bijoy rants against the proliferation of electronics in our cars!
“Stellantis is a huge opportunity for PSA and FCA”
Speaking to Citroen India’s Senior VPs Roland Bouchara (SVP sales and marketing) Eric Apode (SVP) and Saurabh Vatsa (Sr director, marketing) on the C5 Aircross, dealership ramp-up, the C-Cubed program and synergies with FCA
McLaren’s first decade was a whirlwind of super and hypercars, highs and lows, and endless special editions. Now the Artura’s here to start the next chapter
National Cycle VStream Sport Windscreen for Honda Africa Twin
There are many ways to improve motorcycle rider comfort, covering everything from bar risers to footpegs. Having done almost all of them, I decided to switch out my stock windscreen to see if it made a difference, especially on long trips.
What Is Clubhouse, The Buzzy New Audio Chat App?
Clubhouse, an invitation-only audio chat app launched less than a year ago, has caught the attention of tech industry bigshots like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — not to mention the Chinese government, which has already blocked it in the country.
BEST OF TIMES, WORST OF TIMES
THAT CRAZY YEAR IN WHICH A SMALLER FIELD MADE THINGS HARDER
7 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe
Forget physics, Porsche’s uber-SUV is right at home at Best Driver’s Car
RALLY CAR REVOLUTION
30 YEARS THAT REINVENTED THE SPORT OF RALLYING
The GOD of WAR
Italian boutique coachbuilder Ares Design unveils its first production supercar
6 apps to delight book lovers
Find more things to read, in more ways, and more people to discuss them with
THE SUZUKI HAYABUSA
Suzuki said the first Hayabusa invented a new category called Ultimate Sport. We said, “Yeah, right,”…until we rode it.
ASSAULT ON PIKES PEAK EXPEDITION II
Forty-three years ago, we did it with a Honda 50 and a Stella 10-speed bicycle...
SHEER PACE, UNFLAPPABLE POISE
A SHIMMERING RETURN OF THE CLASSIC ITALIAN GT, WITH A MODERN EDGE