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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Paddle Shifters

More and more cars now ofter steering wheel mounted shift levers for cars that have fully automatic transmissions. These are an imitation of the semi-automated manual transmissions typically used in high performance and full-bore race cars such as the Ferrari 430.

I think this is silly.

Real paddle-shift transmissions are basically automated mechanical transmissions which do not have torque converters; they have replaced the clutch and stick with the paddles. On a high-end sportscar, they makes sense, as an alternative to a traditional manual with 3 pedals on the floor.

On a consumer grade car with a torque converter type automatic transmission, the paddles are a gimmick, and I doubt anyone uses them.

If the car won't stall because you forgot to shift with the paddles, it's not authentic, in my book. If you don't need to interact with it unless you feel "sporty" that day, it is a toy. Part of the fun of driving a true manual transmission car (which I do) is that you have to do your job ot make the car move. If my car had a dual-clutch automated manual transmission, I'd be thrilled, but I would probably never use the manual override. I'd put it in D and go.

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