Remarkable Features Implemented in Modern Manual Transmissions

Nowadays, transmission technologies are developed with unprecedented pace, and manufacturers can offer more and more sophisticated solutions that ensure much faster gear shifting capacity, fuel efficiency, as well as a general comfort while driving. No wonder that classic manual transmissions or even some automatic transmissions get replaced by more advanced dual-clutch or hybrid transmissions.

We get used to newspaper headlines such as “Manuals are dying”, “Stick shift is going extinct”, “Stick shift sales keep falling”, but it should not be assumed that the development curve of manual transmissions stopped at 4-5-speed units without any smart technologies. In reality, modern manual transmissions also can be equipped with a variety of remarkable features. Thanks to the use of advanced technologies, performance capacity of efficiency of modern manual transmissions can become a pleasant surprise for auto enthusiasts. In this article, we will consider some advanced features implemented in modern manual transmissions.

Downshift Rev-Matching

The art of heel-and-toe shifting was once a precondition to use the performance capacity of the transmission unit, but downshift rev-matching feature now helps even young drivers to feel like a professional racer.

Check out this great video on Rev-Matching from Engineering Explained

Used mainly on performance-oriented vehicles, this technology automatically matches engine RPM rate to the engaged gear for ideal downshifts. This feature is especially useful for racing cars, but it can also become a pleasant bonus for some manual road cars.

No-Lift Shifting

Even young drivers know for sure that when driving a manual car and performing gear shifts, it is necessary to lift your foot off the gas pedal every time you press the clutch and then hit the throttle again as you depress the clutch pedal. However, this simple rule doesn’t work when we are talking about the Cadillac ATS-V and its 6-speed gearbox. This model comes with a no-lift shift feature that allows the driver to change gears without depressing the gas pedal. The 2019 model year is the ATS-V’s last, and it is still unknown whether this remarkable feature will be integrated into future manual Cadillac models.

Interior of 2019 Cadillac ATS-V

At the same time, some experts claim that this feature is not really good for your car. The thing is that without applying the clutch, the driver forces the synchronizer to perform functions it's not supposed to do. That is, adjust the wheel speed to the transmission speed. While it may add some extra power in the moment, there may be a negative impact on the clutch unit.

Hill Start Assist

Hill Start Assist (HSA) isn’t a new technology for manually shifted cars – not even remotely. The first modification of HAS was introduced in 1936 and it became extremely useful in a certain situation on the road. It comes into play when the vehicle standing on the slope has to drive off again. It helps the driver to prevent the car from rolling back on a hill and hitting the vehicle standing exactly at the back.

It is no doubt that quick and right actions of the driver can exclude any rollbacks without resorting to the HAS feature, but even the smallest mistake can lead to the engine stalling. HSA gives the driver more time to start off by briefly holding the brakes after you’ve released the brake pedal. To put it simply, the modern HSA feature operates by means of 2 sensors, in pair with the brake system on the car. The 1-st sensor monitors the forward-facing incline (nose higher than tail) of the car, while the 2-nd is a disengaging mechanism.

Smart Technology

In view of the fast pace at which automotive technologies and markets advance today, more and more vehicle components (automatic transmission, dual-clutch transmission, hybrid transmission) operate on the basis of advanced software algorithms. The Toyota Corolla Hatchback’s manual gearbox has also become smarter thanks to the use of sophisticated features. Downshift rev-matching is one such feature, but the car can also automatically optimize engine RPM rate to minimize lurching during untimely shifts.

Additional Forward Gear

Compared to 8-, 9-, 10-speed automatics, designs of manual units have been limited in the number of forward gears, but cars like the Porsche 911 come with 7-speed manuals rather than standard 6-speed units. What’s the point? The extra 7-th gear is quite tall, which ensures improved gasoline consumption during highway cruising. The 7-speed manual solution is a revolutionary addition to a long history of exceptional standard transmissions.

Engine Stop-Start

Engine stop-start feature has come into common use in automatic cars. Automakers put in great efforts to squeeze extra efficiency from IC-engines, but they’ve also managed to adopt this technology in manual cars, too. But in reality, this tech frequently turns out to be quite annoying for owners of automatic cars, as many drivers claim that it switches off engine power at every traffic light, causing driver’s discomfort.

On manually-shifted cars, stop-start is actuated as follows: Stop car and press clutch - move gear lever to N gear - release clutch - then the engine stops. The engine will not stop if the car is running, even if the mentioned steps are executed. The engine restarts when the clutch is pressed prior to selecting a gear to move the car.

Gear-Position Indicator

Upshift indicators have been available for car engineers for some time, but such fuel-saving features are not so well-received by enthusiasts who like to use performance potential of their engines to the fullest. However, another readout technology integrated in modern manually shifted cars — the gear-position indicator — is a bit more useful, especially as manuals have gained extra forward gears over the last years.

All in all, it is hard to argue that manual vehicles continue losing their share on major automotive markets, but there is still a significant fan base of cars with a classic stick shifter, and who knows, maybe one day the list of technologies described above will be added with a new one that will breathe new life into manual cars.

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