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The Roundabout Blog

Stick-shift sports cars, RIP?

  • Defending the caveman

    At the end of its 10-year model run, the Lamborghini Gallardo is looking a little long in the tooth – if the cuspid in question belonged to a sabre toothed tiger.

    Like that extinct predator the Gallardo still has a vicious bearing, and in its final year of production Lamborghini is throwing a sop to the Fred Flintstone in all of us. The last Gallardo will come with three pedals and a stick-shift transmission.

    It will be the last of its breed, the final manual-transmission Lamborghini. Chief rival Ferrari dropped the stick after seeing the take rate on the row-your-own specification of its California convertible: just two were ordered. Two. The well-heeled, it would seem, have little use for heel-toe.

    Though this may seem lamentable for the enthusiast community, it makes some sense. Modern supercars are as packed with go-fast technology as fighter jets, and an H-gate manual transmission seems as incongruous in their cabins as an eight-track player in an F-22 Raptor.

    Extinction approaches. Survival of the fastest. The world moves on. And yet the dinosaurs are still out there, caveman-spec rides guaranteed to put a smile on a somewhat-unshaven face.

    Here are seven premium sports cars still available with a stick-shift transmission – for now. Yabba dabba doo.

  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-2

    Aside from the Luddite-friendly transmission option, the last Gallardo will also feature rear-wheel drive – and not much else. “It will be the least-gilded, back-to-basics stripped version,” said Lamborghini of America executive Michael Lock. (Newspress)

  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-2

    Doubtless the switch to rear drive will mean the neolithic Lambo will put the power down in a less controlled fashion. Doubtless the car will be tail-happy and twitchy. Doubtless it will be prone to lighting up its rear tires. In fact, the car will probably be slightly worse than the marque’s more buttoned-downed offerings – and therefore at least twice as good at being a proper Lamborghini. (Lamborghini)

  • Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

    Should you tick the box for Porsche's PDK transmission option, the 911 gets even better at being the perfect Jekyll and Hyde car. Leave everything in standard form and the coupe purrs along smoothly. Flick all the switches to Sport Plus, and it turns to Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Porsche Cars North America)

  • Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

    But what if the driver is not a cat person? Opt for the seven-speed manual box and exchange retractable-claw precision for a little more eager pull on the leash and tail-wagging. For such an individual, it is the more fetching option. (Porsche Cars North America)

  • Lotus Evora S

    Team Lotus Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen has the nickname “Iceman”. Similarly, one would have to have a flash-frozen heart to pick the Evora's optional IPS automatic over the manual. (Newspress)

  • Lotus Evora S

    Like all Lotuses, the supercharged, mid-engine Evora S is about fingertip feel. Even if the Evora is a smoother, more comfortable machine than the pavement-licking Exige, an automatic transmission is too much of a comfort compromise to make. (Lotus Cars)

  • BMW M5/M6

    Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW will all happily sell you a Teutonic cruise missile, comprised of a twin-turbo V8 engine shoehorned into a leather-lined palace, with fat tires and brakes large enough to halt continental drift. (BMW of North America)

  • BMW M5/M6

    All three marques offer effortless speed and reasonable leasing rates. Only BMW on its M6 coupe and M5 sedan, however, offers the option of self-slotting a fourth-to-third downshift prior to jumping to hyperspace. But the six-speed stick, newly available for 2014, is an option only afforded to North American customers. (BMW of North America)

  • Audi R8

    Like its edgier Italian cousin the Gallardo, Audi's halo car is due for an update that will likely make the stick-shift option a thing of the past. (Audi of America)

  • Audi R8

    The screaming-fast V10 suits the side-bladed R8's looks while the 4.2-litre V8 engine suits its spirit. For proper introductions, a dedicated fringe of the marketplace believes it best to shake hands via a stick shift. (Audi of America)

  • Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

    Dubbed a supercar-slayer for so long, it is easy to forget that the top-tier Corvette is, in fact, a supercar itself. The new seventh-generation Stingray ‘Vette shows what improvements are coming in terms of interior refinement, but the old model still has its charms: 638 horsepower’s worth of them, coupled to a six-speed manual with the nervy feel of a railway switch.

    The ZR1 is the ultimate American iron fist, all firepower and fury and rockets’ red glare. No, it is not subtle, but when you carry a stick this big, why speak softly? (General Motors)

    Did we overlook a sublime stick-operated premium sports car? Let us know on our Facebook page.

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