Most petrolheads are no strangers to manual cars. There's an intangible joy when you're rowing through the gears, upshifting and downshifting as you pelt down twisting back roads. That being said, the raw visceral feeling of driving euphoria isn't limited to cars with a stick shift. Anyone can get behind the wheel of an automated manual and have just as much fun, with just as much control over the gears.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of cars with the best looking (or feeling) shifters in recent years. Some of these aren’t proper stick shift manuals, and we're ok with that. Who’s to say that a person can’t drive as fast or as well as a seasoned manual driver?
Porsche 911 (991.1) GT3
Might be a bit sacrilegious, starting this list off with a car that isn’t a manual (It’ll come, I promise). However, I doubt anyone will stir up an uproar about the Porsche 911 GT3 (991.1 generation) because it is a masterpiece. Though it isn’t a manual, that beautifully crafted gear lever on the centre stack gives you full and absolute control of the car’s stunning PDK gearbox. There are paddles too, but in some instances, the illusion of shifting a cog is more satisfying than pulling a paddle behind a wheel. Automatic when you want it, manual when you feel the need for it. Of course, there are variants of the 911 GT3 with a manual box if you fancy that.
(Click HERE to read more about the Porsche 911 GT3)
Porsche 911 Carrera T
Another Porsche 911, but a rather noteworthy addition. Admittedly, power is a little lower in this car than the 911 GT3 mentioned above. A modest 365hp compared to the 475hp on tap in the faster car. But we’re here to gawk at shifters, and this 911 has a tastefully done up 7-speed stick taking centre stage in the cabin. All wrapped up in Alcantara and a dusting of red paint.
(Click HERE to read more about the Porsche 911 Carrera T)
Audi R8 (Type 42)
Take a closer look at this. How often do you see a gated shifter, in an Audi no less? Of course, this is not your run-of-the-mill Audi. One has to remember that the Audi R8 shares many components with the Lamborghini Gallardo (which was available with a 6-speed manual too), which should tell you all you need to know about this sports car. Of course, the click-clack of the shifter sliding into gear may remind many Singaporean sons of a rifle’s bolt carrier being racked. Lock, load, and away you go.
(Click HERE to read more about the Audi R8 with two of its Quattro brethren, the B7 RS4 and B8 RS4 Avant)
A manual Ferrari F430, now that’s something special. Most of the F430s that came off the production line in Maranello were equipped with Ferrari’s “F1” inspired flappy paddle gearboxes. Only a very small number of them were fitted with this gorgeous gated 6-speed gearbox. Owners of the manual would soon realise that over the years, their F430s appreciated in value because what these lucky owners had was essentially a Ferrari frozen in time. A relic of Ferrari's former glory days of bare-knuckle shifting and naturally aspirated engines. A future classic.
(Click HERE to read more about the Ferrari F430 and two other Ferrari Spiders)
Gordon Murray T.50
Calling the Gordon Murray T.50 a modern rendition of the McLaren F1 would be a bit of a stretch. The T.50 is a car that embodies the best of the past, and we can’t fault it one bit. I mean, how often do we see a £2.36 million hypercar with three pedals and a stick? This is a true rarity, bound to deliver a driving experience like no other. Lest we forget, the T.50 is a 986kg vehicle with a naturally aspirated (again, rare in this day and age) 3.9-litre V12 that produces 663hp and revs all the way up to 12,100rpm. Pair that with a 6-speed manual and you’ve got a recipe for unbridled glory.
(Click HERE to read more about the Gordon Murray T.50)