• Stick It: Ten 2017 Models Available Solely With a Manual Transmission

    The act of rowing your own gears undeniably provides a level of driver engagement simply not offered by an automatic transmission of any type.
    • manual transmissioj
    Matthew Guy

    As the calendar flips into 2017, manufacturers are busy celebrating positive sales numbers. On pace to sell nearly two million vehicles, the Canadian market has been good to automakers this year. Out of all that new metal leaving the showroom floor, though—an alarmingly small number are equipped with a manual transmission.

    I buy the argument being made by many manufacturers that modern automatic transmissions are more efficient and quicker-shifting than ever, particularly the high performance dual-clutch units which can rip off upshifts with more precision than any human being.

    Still, the act of rowing your own gears undeniably provides a level of driver engagement simply not offered by an automatic transmission of any type. Plus, a manual transmission is a great theft deterrent because most crack-addled car thieves are too hazy-eyed to fathom the H-pattern on top of a shifter knob.

    Young drivers (and their parents!) take note: if you can drive a stick, your friends will automatically assume you’re a good driver. Get your clutch foot ready—we’re about to shift our way through a list of ten new cars available only with a manual transmission.

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    • GT350

    Ford Mustang GT350/GT350R

    We’re starting this list off with the rowdiest member of the Mustang family. This $73,678 beast from Ford deploys a weapons-grade engine in the form of a 5.2L V8 producing 526 horsepower. The flat-plane crank and unique firing order produces an exhaust note that sounds like two volcanos arguing with each other and—in R form—is equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires which are stickier than a movie theatre floor. With all this power and performance on tap, it’s great news that the only transmission available is a six-speed manual built by Tremec. Top of Form
    • Ford fiesta st

    Ford Fiesta ST

    You know those small dogs that are only about the size of a football but have excited, boundless energy? That’s the canine version of the Fiesta ST. Ford’s pint-sized hatch is an absolute blast to drive, given its light weight and 1.6L turbocharged inline-four making nearly 200hp. It’s hatchback bodystyle means there is an extra dose of practicality added to the mix, making it an easier sell to skeptical spouses. The eye-popping Molten Orange paint might give away its sporting intentions—so select either Magnetic Grey or Shadow Black. Unsuspecting family members will think you simply bought a sensible hatchback. Heh.
    • Subaru WRX STI

    Subaru WRX STI

    Much digital ink has been spilled on Subaru’s rally-bred sedan, with its 2.5L turbocharged flat-four engine pumping out 305 horsepower through four driven wheels. While the WRX can be purchased with a soul-sucking Continuously Variable Transmission, the WRX STI is available solely with a six-speed manual, the way nature and Mika Häkkinen intended. All-wheel drive makes the WRX STI a great choice for year-round hooning, plus the unique layout of the pistons in Subaru’s boxer engine creates an exhaust note like no other
    • ford focus st

    Ford Focus ST

    The Focus ST’s styling, on the other hand, isn’t fooling anybody. Eighteen-inch Rado Grey alloy wheels shod with summer tires, a natty spoiler, and central mounted exhaust announce the Focus ST’s sporting intentions, even in subdued colours like Shadow Black. Might as well spring for the retina-searing Triple Yellow, then. A 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder engine shuttles a not-insignificant 252hp to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. Priced in the mid $30,000 range, enthusiasts of sport compact cars will find a lot to like in this practical five-door hatchback.
    • ford focus rs

    Ford Focus RS

    If the Focus ST is a taco drizzled with hot sauce, then the big-brother Focus RS is a Habenero chili stuffed with Ghost peppers. Cranking up the heat, Ford stuffed a 2.3L turbo four under the hood of the RS, good for a dizzying 345 hp filtered though the same six-speed manual found in the ST. Thick Recaro seats hold occupants in place during spirited driving sessions, while a Drift Mode allows drivers to dabble in track day heroics. Nineteen-inch hoops wrapped with Michelin Super Sport summer tires keep things shiny side up, while a carefully sculpted front fascia directs air to the brakes for maximum cooling effect. The Ford Focus RS rings the bell at just over $50,000.
    • 2017 Honda Civic Coupe

    Honda Civic LX Coupe

    Back in the real world, Honda recently introduced its new Civic to well-deserved critical acclaim. An unexpected pleasure is finding that the cheapest version of the Coupe (the best looking Civic in this author’s jaundiced eyes) is available solely with a manual transmission. For under twenty grand, buyers will find the Civic Coupe LX equipped with Apple CarPlay, heated front seats—and a manual transmission. Adding the Sensing Package (lane keeping and other nannies) necessitates selecting a CVT transmission, but you know how to change lanes on your own, right?
    • mazda cx-5

    Mazda CX-5 2.0

    Like it or not—the modern crossover makes sense for a lot of buyers: tall ride height, lots of space, and acceptable fuel economy. Driving fun, though? That often takes a back seat. Fortunately, Mazda comes to the rescue by offering its CX-5—when powered by a 2.0L four-cylinder—with a manual transmission. A front-wheel drive base model but certainly no stripper, the stickshift CX-5 comes equipped with niceties such as air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, and a push button start. The snazzily redesigned 2017 CX-5 was just shown at the LA Auto Show and reports indicate it, too, will be available with a manual transmission in some trims. Thank you, Mazda.
    • Renegade 1.4

    Jeep Renegade 1.4 MultiAir

    For drivers looking to row their own gears and deploy a measure of off-road capability, options are limited. Fortunately, Jeep has seen fit to pair their littlest rock crawler with a tasty six-speed manual transmission when equipped with the 1.4L MultiAir turbocharged four-cylinder. Buyers aren’t limited to base model penalty boxes either; the 4x4/stickshift combination is available on the Sport, North, and 75th Anniversary trims for this model year. The manual transmission is also available on front-wheel drive models, but buying a front-wheel drive Jeep is like ordering a salad in a Texas steakhouse.
    • 2017 Nissan 370Z Coupe

    Nissan 370Z

    Save for a single trim level, Nissan’s slinky 370Z is available solely with a manual transmission. The entry-level model checks in at under $30,000 and offers a good dollop of performance so its mouth can match its trousers. Buyers will find a slick-looking rear-wheel drive coupe with double-wishbone suspension and a 3,300-pound curb weight. A heady 332 horsepower is cranked out by Nissan’s ubiquitous 3.7L V6, except for the NISMO version which cranks output to 350hp. A next-generation Z is rumored to be in the works but it’s very likely the V6 will be replaced by a polar-bear friendly, downsized turbo-four. Appreciate this naturally aspirated, row-your-own Z while you can.
  • Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec

    The Korean automaker is set to pull the plug on the Genesis Coupe, given the brand’s newfound focus on Genesis as a standalone luxury marque. For the time being though, shoppers looking for a rear-wheel drive, two-door sporty coupe will find only a stickshift in the R-Spec trim of this model year’s Genesis Coupe. The R-Spec will appeal to performance minded drivers with its Torsen-type limited slip differential and track-tuned suspension. Brake discs the size of dinner plates are clamped with four-piston Brembo calipers up front and two-piston stoppers out back. Sport bucket seats feature large bolsters with cloth inserts, keeping drivers in place while they enjoy shifting gears for themselves.

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