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mybluesky
02-22-2008, 02:02 PM
Hello again,

I got a diff questions for all you car enthusiasts. I currently drive a 2D 2007 Honda Civic MT. At first I was so excited to drive stick and for the first few months it was great, but more often than not I find getting into my car and driving to walmart a chore at times... Manual Transmission is truly the best way to drive a car but sometimes I find little things that would be easier on AT easier such as stopping at uphill stoplights, stop and go traffic, parallel parking, etc. I'm not sure how you guys do it but my feet aren't quick enough to step on the brake on an uphill stoplight so i usually just balance the gas and clutch, but it really is starting to tire me out.

I was set on getting an AT on my prospective X3 (I love steptronic but I don't really see a difference to be honest... maybe I'm not using it right?) but my area recently just got hit with a bad snowstorm (PA) and my car handled EXTREMELY well in the snow. I was watching SUVs, and trucks sliding around in the snow skidding all over the parking lot, and that really made me appreciate the control you have over your car/engine with manual transmission. This makes me want to get a manual again on the x3... I'm not sure how manual drives on an x3...

What are your guys experiences?

drunken_shinobi
02-22-2008, 02:47 PM
I haven't driven stick shift for a very long time, but I find stick shift to be much more fun than an automatic transmission. I've already gotten pretty good with stick shift so I don't have problems with going up a hill, but excessive traffic is still a problem. However, I find stick shift overall to be fun and you can always get the best feeling and performance out of it.

Mystic1
02-22-2008, 03:16 PM
If you aren't comfortable driving a MT, get an auto. One good thing about the X3 is it has a brake assist feature that helps starting on hills by preventing rearward vehicle slip. How long have you driven a MT car? I have driven them since I started driving 22 yrs ago and find them a blast to drive with little or no downfall. Since I grew up in a hilly environment, I have no issues on starting on a fairly severe slope without any/much clutch slippage. I would say it just takes practice to become a good MT driver.

Mitch3672
02-22-2008, 03:19 PM
Hello again,

I got a diff questions for all you car enthusiasts. I currently drive a 2D 2007 Honda Civic MT. At first I was so excited to drive stick and for the first few months it was great, but more often than not I find getting into my car and driving to walmart a chore at times... Manual Transmission is truly the best way to drive a car but sometimes I find little things that would be easier on AT easier such as stopping at uphill stoplights, stop and go traffic, parallel parking, etc. I'm not sure how you guys do it but my feet aren't quick enough to step on the brake on an uphill stoplight so i usually just balance the gas and clutch, but it really is starting to tire me out.

I was set on getting an AT on my prospective X3 (I love steptronic but I don't really see a difference to be honest... maybe I'm not using it right?) but my area recently just got hit with a bad snowstorm (PA) and my car handled EXTREMELY well in the snow. I was watching SUVs, and trucks sliding around in the snow skidding all over the parking lot, and that really made me appreciate the control you have over your car/engine with manual transmission. This makes me want to get a manual again on the x3... I'm not sure how manual drives on an x3...

What are your guys experiences?

Most of your answer is in your question. The manual drives very well on an X3 but the clutch will be a little firmer and the shift action a little more long throw than a civic. You ultimately have to decide what is more important. The convenience and easy going of an auto, or whether you are going to miss the control and enjoyment derived from driving stick. Also if you plan on having anyone else such a spouse drive the car than does not want/drive manual then consider auto as well.

Other than that the X3 will handle bad weather way better than your civic because of xDrive, BMW handling traits, (ie sophisticated engineered in the suspension), and even the fact that the X3 is simply a much heavier vehicle. Those SUVs sliding around either were not an X3, or X5 or the drivers are to blame for going too fast or both.

The X3 is easily one of the standards at the top of a very short world class list for which any SUV should be judged. (Only the Cayenne (and exceed in the Cayenne's case), X5 and maybe Q7 can compete in the handling dept., but soon genuine premium competitors will exist for the first time such as the Merc GLK and Q5).

AzNMpower32
02-22-2008, 03:56 PM
You will likely find the start off assistant to be a great asset in the newer BMWs. Like others have said, it holds the brakes for 2s while you release the clutch from a uphill standstill.

The thing is with an automatic transmission, you don't need to worry about gears and your right foot when you lose control. You just look and try to steer in the direction. I don't think automatic would hurt your sense of control or traction in tricky situations. You can use manual mode if you want more control, and it allows you to start off in 2nd gear if you wish.

It is really a matter of preference. I highly recommend the manual, but if you find it to be a chore, then don't let it detract from the driving experience by feeling "forced" into such a decision. Pick what you feel would work better.

Mitch3672
02-22-2008, 04:06 PM
It is really a matter of preference. I highly recommend the manual, but if you find it to be a chore, then don't let it detract from the driving experience by feeling "forced" into such a decision. Pick what you feel would work better.

Maybe to add: Few people regret auto but maybe wish they could go back to stick, but if you get a manual and find it not to fit your lifestyle in anyway you will be much, much more disappointed. IMO anyway of course.

Personally I love manual and drove them exclusively up until recently. Having a spouse that won't drive standard and family responsibilities can affect car choices:cry:

AzNMpower32
02-22-2008, 04:10 PM
Maybe to add: Few people regret auto but maybe wish they could go back to stick, but if you get a manual and find it not to fit your lifestyle in anyway you will be much, much more disappointed. IMO anyway of course.
I wish my X3 and my parents' 325i were manuals :cry:

Court M3
02-22-2008, 04:35 PM
wish my X3 was a manual also. Both the e30 323i and ///M are manuals

mybluesky
02-22-2008, 04:45 PM
I learned to drive in manual and driven them pretty much ever since. i didn't know about this assist that prevents rear wheel slip. that's the one thing i always fear most and that's why i don't take chances on hills with my honda civic.

I'm a bit weary with the whole clutch being firmer on the BMW. I test drove a 3 series and that seemed pretty light. The clutch on the honda civic is ridiculously light and has to be floored all the time. I drove my friends mustang and you barely need to step down on the clutch there. I'm not sure what you mean by longer throw. Do you mean the actual distance between switching gears on the stick?

I honestly thought that the whole sports mode would be even more fun than driving stick because it's basically stick without the most annoying part (clutch) but i don't find any difference from sports mode and regular mode....

MMME30W
02-22-2008, 06:16 PM
I think you get used to it; having to drive an AT is like being given one of those amusement park "cars on a track" rides to sit in. :D

I've had all MT cars except for one Mercedes Benz, and I would have it no other way.

Skottoman
02-22-2008, 08:04 PM
I don't know why people have such a hard time with MT on hills. Simply hold the manual parking brake up with your hand, lift off the brake and apply throttle and release the clutch. At the same time as the car starts to pull forward under it's own power, relase the hand parking brake. Easy as that.

They should teach this in drivers ed. It's really not that hard. Works backwards too.

In my opinion, MT has much more control in snow/bad conditions as you have control of the direct power transmission with the clutch, no 'waiting/hoping' the auto trans will not shoot a boost of power... Auto transmissions cause accidents in my opinon. People not in control of their cars. Let off the gas and the thing keeps goin...

Never owned an AT, never will until i'm so old I can't work a clutch.
Cheers,
Skottoman

diehlryan
02-22-2008, 08:24 PM
bunch of weirdos worried about drifting backwards on a hill with a MT!! jeez.

in the 11yrs I've driven MT the only problem ever on a hill was when I was first learning and that is only because its ALL IN YOUR MIND!!

You really dont drift back any further than an inch or two.

The parking brake trick is ridiculous. Learn to drive MT for real and quit using the ebrake as a crutch.

AzNMpower32
02-22-2008, 08:46 PM
The 6-speed automatic in the 2007+ X3s lock up the torque converter right after you start off for a more direct connection. Hence, it feels and drives similar to a manual. If you let off at 2000rpm at 40mph, the revs stay and you get similar engine braking as you would in a manual.

mybluesky
02-22-2008, 10:20 PM
I don't know why people have such a hard time with MT on hills. Simply hold the manual parking brake up with your hand, lift off the brake and apply throttle and release the clutch. At the same time as the car starts to pull forward under it's own power, relase the hand parking brake. Easy as that.

They should teach this in drivers ed. It's really not that hard. Works backwards too.

In my opinion, MT has much more control in snow/bad conditions as you have control of the direct power transmission with the clutch, no 'waiting/hoping' the auto trans will not shoot a boost of power... Auto transmissions cause accidents in my opinon. People not in control of their cars. Let off the gas and the thing keeps goin...

Never owned an AT, never will until i'm so old I can't work a clutch.
Cheers,
Skottoman


I used the ebrake trick when I first learned stick but i find that balancing the clutch and gas is a lot faster and easier for me.

Ryan M
02-22-2008, 10:24 PM
Balancing the clutch and gas will destroy your disk. You just need to be quick.

mybluesky
02-22-2008, 10:29 PM
ugh oh... i've been doing it for about a year now. I'm too scared to take that risk esp if a car is close behind me.

Random question:

In terms of speed which is faster MT or AT, because I know AT has that awesome kickdown feature. Does the MT have a similar feature or do you just have to be quick.

hot_croc
02-22-2008, 10:34 PM
The parking brake trick is ridiculous. Learn to drive MT for real and quit using the ebrake as a crutch.
Ever drive in San Francisco?
Former Baltimore resident here... it's pretty flat out your way.

Skottoman
02-22-2008, 10:38 PM
bunch of weirdos worried about drifting backwards on a hill with a MT!! jeez.

in the 11yrs I've driven MT the only problem ever on a hill was when I was first learning and that is only because its ALL IN YOUR MIND!!

You really dont drift back any further than an inch or two.

The parking brake trick is ridiculous. Learn to drive MT for real and quit using the ebrake as a crutch.

Whatever dood.

I have no problem not using the e-brake for hills. It's a legitimate use for people who have problems with hills. Not to mention, it's as easy as can be, causes no extra wear on your car.

I've driven a stick for twice as long as you. Welcome to my "ignore" list. :thumbdwn:
Cheers,
Skottoman

archrenov8
02-22-2008, 10:49 PM
ugh oh... i've been doing it for about a year now. I'm too scared to take that risk esp if a car is close behind me.

Random question:

In terms of speed which is faster MT or AT, because I know AT has that awesome kickdown feature. Does the MT have a similar feature or do you just have to be quick.

In MT the equivalent feature to Kick-Down is you manually downshifting. And you get more control over it, because firstly you choose your gear, and if it is too aggressive, it is easy enough to back off on the gas, slip the clutch, to avoid over-revving.

dspeed
02-22-2008, 11:11 PM
After the first 500,000 miles or so, the manual trans is pretty much automatic, I've found.

The people whom I know who *live* in San Francisco drive motorcycles in The City if they don't take public transport. Lovely city, but driving is a mess.

Dave

mybluesky
02-23-2008, 12:59 AM
In MT the equivalent feature to Kick-Down is you manually downshifting. And you get more control over it, because firstly you choose your gear, and if it is too aggressive, it is easy enough to back off on the gas, slip the clutch, to avoid over-revving.

I'm confused. Doesn't the kick down rev up the RPM so that you have maximum acceleration?

dashiell
02-23-2008, 01:08 AM
Yes it revs up the RPM's... by dropping it in a lower gear. Which in a manual you have to do ...manually.

diehlryan
02-23-2008, 05:05 AM
Ever drive in San Francisco?
Former Baltimore resident here... it's pretty flat out your way.


Never San Fran. I grew up in PA and did lots of driving in Pittsburgh. Can't say its the same as SF but still pretty hilly.

diehlryan
02-23-2008, 05:08 AM
Whatever dood.

I have no problem not using the e-brake for hills. It's a legitimate use for people who have problems with hills. Not to mention, it's as easy as can be, causes no extra wear on your car.

I've driven a stick for twice as long as you. Welcome to my "ignore" list. :thumbdwn:
Cheers,
Skottoman

Oh god, its the infamous "I'm twice as old as you so therefore I know twice as much excuse."

I'm sorry but I think using the ebrake on a hill is not neccessary. Maybe you should get that auto now because I think the day has already come when you cant use a clutch.

Happy to be on your ignore list.

STE92VE
02-23-2008, 09:56 AM
Having a spouse that won't drive standard and family responsibilities can affect car choices:cry:

+1

hot_croc
02-23-2008, 10:09 AM
Oh god, its the infamous "I'm twice as old as you so therefore I know twice as much excuse."
Ever heard the saying "Experience is the best teacher?"

I'm sorry but I think using the ebrake on a hill is not neccessary.
Just because you think it doesn't make it applicable to everyone.

Maybe you should get that auto now because I think the day has already come when you cant use a clutch.
Now that's a mature response/supporting argument for your case. :tsk:

Evlengr
02-23-2008, 06:17 PM
Diehlryan,

I was born in Zurich, used to race and also lived and drove in Bludenz, Austria. That is hilly terrain (mountainous actually, haha).

Anyone that can drive the Exige does not have to justify their skills. I'm sure between he and his wife we could all learn some good driving skills. Not everyone drives the same.

BTW--- MD I could drive a MT without using a clutch. It's not a fair comparision.

iamthewalrus
02-23-2008, 09:24 PM
No. The rolling back issue on hills really isn't much of an issue. I live in Seattle which is very hilly and this just doesn't phase me. I learned to drive manual here in Seattle in 2006, so it's not like I'm an old pro.
For me having a manual is about feeling engaged in the driving experience. I really enjoy it and would not want to go back to an automatic. As for traffic, I just don't deal with it. The times when I'm in really bad traffic, I'm sitting on a bus. When traffic's sufficiently bad that I'd hate driving manual, I'd much rather be napping or reading on mass transit (and not contributing to all of that traffic!)
So, I've the best of both worlds; I take the bus to work and I really enjoy driving my X3 manual on those windy Cascade Mountain roads.

Good luck with you decision!
-James

Seattle, WA
2006 X3 3.0i (manual, sport, premium, xenons, stereo, PDC, silver-grey on black)

solver
02-24-2008, 07:11 PM
Just my two cents for mybluesky. I've got a 2006 X3 with MT that I've been driving for almost 2 years (29K miles). I drove cars with MT for years, but before my X3, I'd been driving autos for the 10 previous years. Since I commute into DC an hour each way in heavy stop and go traffic, I thought long and hard before ordering the MT, but I haven't regretted the decision one bit. The control you have with the MT in the X3 just makes it a blast to drive in any kind of weather. I got used to the MT again in stop-and-go traffic fairly quickly and really don't think about it much any more. I basically wanted a sport sedan with more utility, and the X3 with MT completely fits the bill for me. Ultimately it's a personal decision, but I haven't had a single problem with my X3 and I still love driving it every day. Good luck with your decision.

mybluesky
02-24-2008, 11:28 PM
Hmm..
i think i'm going to reverse my decision and maybe get an MT.
I have driven the AT on the X3 but not the MT. The AT is enticing because it doesn't cost extra to add it and I think steptronic is kinda cool (not a car expert dunno if it really works) and the thing i'm going to really miss is the kickdown feature. I think it might get old after a while and I'll want to switch back to mt though.

Skottoman
02-25-2008, 08:44 AM
Good choice with the MT! The only drawback, is you probably won't find any in stock, so you'll have to order it. That's what we did...

So bad part is you have to wait, but good part is you get what you want! :)
Cheers,
Skottoman

edgar620
02-25-2008, 08:57 AM
bunch of weirdos worried about drifting backwards on a hill with a MT!! jeez.

in the 11yrs I've driven MT the only problem ever on a hill was when I was first learning and that is only because its ALL IN YOUR MIND!!

You really dont drift back any further than an inch or two.

The parking brake trick is ridiculous. Learn to drive MT for real and quit using the ebrake as a crutch.

+1 If you use the e-brake you will never learn. Aslo the holding the clutch trick is a good way to ruin your clutch.

bmwadam
02-25-2008, 11:21 AM
Oh god, its the infamous "I'm twice as old as you so therefore I know twice as much excuse."

That wasnt nessecary, I'm sure D can drive a manual box just fine.

I'm sorry but I think using the ebrake on a hill is not neccessary. Maybe you should get that auto now because I think the day has already come when you cant use a clutch.

Happy to be on your ignore list.

Well when you are on a VERY steep grade of a hill, and some jerk is right up your arse, THEN using the e bake as an assist is much preferred to riding your clutch.

Th e brake trick is essentially the same thing that the brake assist does. My wife has an 04 3.0 6MT. We do not have brake assist, I think it was either an option OR it came out in 05. But there have been some times when it was nessecary to use it. And I think her and I both can drive manual boxes just fine. Even IF you are the utlitamte bada** and think you can shift with the best of them, there is ALWAYS the moment when you will roll back a few, and a few is all it takes sometimes to hit the jerk behind you or the car if you are parallel parking on a steep slope.

Andrew*Debbie
02-25-2008, 12:00 PM
I'm not sure how you guys do it but my feet aren't quick enough to step on the brake on an uphill stoplight so i usually just balance the gas and clutch, but it really is starting to tire me out.



I've never needed to do that in any MT car I've ever driven. Using the clutch to hold your car on a hill at a red light is a good way to eat up a clutch.

You may want to find someone to coach your MT skills.




What are your guys experiences?

MT in the X3 is one of the easiest, most bombproof manuals I've ever driven. It does take a little practice to get smooth shifts though.


I posted some videos on YouTube a while back. There are several hill starts, but think I only made a comment on the one I messed up on. Ummm look here:


http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=AndrewandDebbie&p=r

x3nick
02-25-2008, 12:48 PM
Yet another example of the difference between the UK and USA. As part of the driving test you have to do over here before you get your licence, you have to do a hill start and you MUST do this using the handbrake(e brake). It is the way we are all taught to drive over here. I would never consider another way unless I only had to stop for a second, much safer and very easy and quick when you learn.
Must admit I like the hill start assist on my X3 though, even easier:thumbup:

giulivo72
02-26-2008, 04:11 AM
Most of us Italians or Spaniards have never even seen a car with autobox, leave alone driven one. I have only driven manual between learning in 1990 and getting my first auto in 2004. All of us have to take our driving licence tests on manual and with uphill starts, both with and without the help of the handbrake (foot on the brake, gently release the clutch just enough to hear the engine sound change, then right foot swiftly from brake to gas). If you can't do that then IMHO you should not get a driving licence (period).
In my parents' family we are converting to auto for medical reasons (traffic in Rome is hell on earth and my Mom's left knee and my left foot were suffering as a consequence). I really have no preference on the open road but I do prefer auto in congested stop-and-go traffic AND when driving RHD cars (in UK or other Countries where cars are the mirror image of what they should be). I have never changed gears with my left hand but my wife is really good at it. I guess I would learn if I had to but I am glad I can avoid it.
If I can choose, I prefer auto on any car, just because I am lazy.

Cheers Giulivo72

archrenov8
02-26-2008, 06:02 AM
Most of us Italians or Spaniards ... I really have no preference on the open road but I do prefer auto in congested stop-and-go traffic AND when driving RHD cars (in UK or other Countries where cars are the mirror image of what they should be). I have never changed gears with my left hand but my wife is really good at it. I guess I would learn if I had to but I am glad I can avoid it.
If I can choose, I prefer auto on any car, just because I am lazy.

Cheers Giulivo72

Funny, when my partner and I rent cars over in the UK, which is maybe twice a year, I insist on getting MT, because shifting with my left hand (which for an American is rather awkward) gives me a constant reminder that everything else is on the opposite side as well.

Since you do so much shifting with MT, I find that it keeps you on your "international driving toes", so to speak. I was just thankful, the first time round in 1997, that the accelerator was still on the right.

I was kind of amused to learn that in the early days of automobiles, that not all cars had the same pedal arrangements. Imagine that today!

Let's hope BMW does not reinvent the foot controls as iPedals!

archrenov8
02-26-2008, 06:08 AM
Most of us Italians or Spaniards have never even seen a car with autobox, l...

I really have no preference on the open road but I do prefer auto in congested stop-and-go traffic AND when driving RHD cars (in UK or other Countries where cars are the mirror image of what they should be). I have never changed gears with my left hand but my wife is really good at it. I guess I would learn if I had to but I am glad I can avoid it.
If I can choose, I prefer auto on any car, just because I am lazy.

Cheers Giulivo72

When my partner and I rent cars over in the UK, which is maybe twice a year, I insist on getting MT, because shifting with my left hand (which for an American is rather awkward) gives me a constant reminder that everything else is on the opposite side as well.

Since you do so much shifting with MT, I find that it keeps you on your "international driving toes", so to speak. I was just thankful, the first time round in 1997, that the accelerator was still on the right.

I was kind of amused to learn that in the early days of automobiles, that not all cars had the same pedal arrangements. Imagine that today!

Let's hope BMW does not reinvent the foot controls as iPedals!

Glen

mybluesky
02-26-2008, 07:47 AM
[QUOTE=Andrew*Debbie;3037375]I've never needed to do that in any MT car I've ever driven. Using the clutch to hold your car on a hill at a red light is a good way to eat up a clutch.

You may want to find someone to coach your MT skills.

It's not that I have technical problems with MT i know how to drive it well I just don't want to take the risk. As mentioned previously by bmwadam there is always gonna be that moment when you roll back even if just a little bit.

Skottoman
02-26-2008, 08:42 AM
there is always gonna be that moment when you roll back even if just a little bit.

Thus my recommendation to utilize the parking brake. No rollback at all in situations where you need it. :D
Cheers,
Skottoman

Mystic1
02-26-2008, 09:44 AM
Mybluesky, A*D is correct, you will burn up the clutch if you continue to do that. The entire time you are balancing the clutch and accelerator, the clutch is slipping, dragging, and wearing down. If you do that too long, you will get the burning smell and a costly repair.

In the end, everyone has different driving skills and habits. Drive the way you want to as long as it doesn't affect anyone else. I personally have never used the ebrake to start on a hill, but I am sure some do and find it extremely useful.

Andrew*Debbie
02-26-2008, 11:05 AM
.

It's not that I have technical problems with MT i know how to drive it well I just don't want to take the risk. As mentioned previously by bmwadam there is always gonna be that moment when you roll back even if just a little bit.


Mystic is right. It is your car. Drive it however you want.

If you are interested, I do have suggestions:

It is possible to have your feet on all 3 pedals at the same time. I'll try and post a photo. With the Mazda, I don't let off the service brake until the car is ready to move forward.

You should either get to the point where you are 100% confident that the car won't roll back or start using the e-brake. Besides being tiring, your current technique is bad for the car.




Done right, there is nothing wrong with using the parking brake to stop your car from rolling back. As others have mentioned using the hand brake is mandatory in the UK.

UK How To:

http://www.howto.tv/show/how_to_do_a_hill_start

I've been told that you can fail the UK driver's test if your car rolls back an inch or two.



When I first got the MX-5, I practiced using the hand brake to hold the car. I more or less never use it, but I wanted to be proficient.


This is a non-issue in the 2007 and '08 X3. The ABS computer holds the service brakes on until you hit the friction point on the clutch. Combine that with the N52's absurd amount low end torque and it is nearly impossible to screw up a launch.


Andrew

Andrew*Debbie
02-26-2008, 02:26 PM
MX-5: I have wide feet. I can cover both the brake and the throttle with my right foot.


http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=136978&stc=1&d=1204060963


The throttle pedal in the MX-5 curves and has an extension at the bottom for traditional heel and toe.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=136979&stc=1&d=1204060963


X3. I never need to do this for a hill start, just rev matching downshifts.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=136980&stc=1&d=1204060963

Mitch3672
02-26-2008, 02:47 PM
MX-5: I have wide feet. I can cover both the brake and the throttle with my right foot.


http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=136978&stc=1&d=1204060963


The throttle pedal in the MX-5 curves and has an extension at the bottom for traditional heel and toe.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=136979&stc=1&d=1204060963


X3. I never need to do this for a hill start, just rev matching downshifts.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=136980&stc=1&d=1204060963


Now that's getting to the bottom of it. :D

iversonm
02-26-2008, 02:56 PM
Hello again,

I got a diff questions for all you car enthusiasts. I currently drive a 2D 2007 Honda Civic MT. At first I was so excited to drive stick and for the first few months it was great, but more often than not I find getting into my car and driving to walmart a chore at times... Manual Transmission is truly the best way to drive a car but sometimes I find little things that would be easier on AT easier such as stopping at uphill stoplights, stop and go traffic, parallel parking, etc. I'm not sure how you guys do it but my feet aren't quick enough to step on the brake on an uphill stoplight so i usually just balance the gas and clutch, but it really is starting to tire me out.

I was set on getting an AT on my prospective X3 (I love steptronic but I don't really see a difference to be honest... maybe I'm not using it right?) but my area recently just got hit with a bad snowstorm (PA) and my car handled EXTREMELY well in the snow. I was watching SUVs, and trucks sliding around in the snow skidding all over the parking lot, and that really made me appreciate the control you have over your car/engine with manual transmission. This makes me want to get a manual again on the x3... I'm not sure how manual drives on an x3...

What are your guys experiences?

I've not driven and X3 with a MT, but I've had two e46's and an e60 with a MT. They are very easy to drive, with a very light but predictable clutch. Unlike just about every other car on the market (thanks to the 60 minutes/Audi fiasco) the pedal spacing is ideal for heel-toe work, with the ball of your foot on the brake while the outer edge of your foot works the gas.

I seldom tire of shifting these transmissions, even in heavy traffic. This is distinctly different from my non BMW MT's, which were horrid in those circumstances. I will say that the manual Hondas I've driven have not been too bad, but I've never owned one.