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Old 06-30-2012, 12:28 PM
Teleskier Teleskier is offline
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Location: New England
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 89
Mein Auto: E84, VW TDI, E36
I have always driven manuals for the joy of driving and for its complete user control. I have always hated AT's for the "four second lag" when I stomp on the accelerator, and the car finally decides to pull out into the street.

I was about to write a letter as well but have some questions I need to answer first.
  • Would the X1 Sport Mode and manual paddle shifters give me the same control/feeling as a manual? ("Shift where and when I want you to - darn it!")
  • I hear a lot about how few Americans drive manual, and how a MT will hurt your re-sale value (dealers won't touch them for trade-ins since only 1-2% of market?)
  • Am I willing to give up another 2mpg+ downgrading from 8spd AT with eco-drive to 6spd MT, when I already decided to give up 2mpg+ to get AWD vs S-drive?

I need to test an existing X3 with AT in Sport mode. No local dealer so far (only tried two so far) will let me take out the car alone where I can test drive it. I'm too polite to make the poor saleswoman sick to her stomach as I perform my various testing maneuvers.

Audi let me take an AT Q5 out alone. Its AT made the car almost feel Japanese in its disconnected 'lack of driving joy'. Had much more fun in the MT Audi A4.

The AT in the X3 with Sport mode in manual felt better than the Q5 - I but could not really test it. I did notice weird behavior when I stomped on the full gas, 'it' decides to downshift for me, producing a lag, when I wanted it to stay in the gear I was in. If I gave 85% gas, it stayed in my gear. Annoying. I found I could 'mess up' its gear selection very easily compared to full-control MT ("Oops, my lane disappeared, only have 4 seconds to pull in to one-car length spot, 100% gas now", lag, lag, lag). But perhaps I didn't spend enough time with it. The poor woman's head was snapping back and forth enough as it was, even if she was a sport putting up with it.

My personality is that I'm fast and I'm in full control. I like my full-user-control Win7 PC versus my "let us do it our way" no-user-control "don't even try to be a power user" Mac, I like my rooted android over iPhone, my Campy 20-speed 'MT' racing bike slicing through its gears, my no-spring-assist-binding telemark skis for 'real' skiing, etc, etc. (I need the SAV part of the X1 hatch over 3er sedan, for the three mountain bikes plus racing bike in back, alpine + tele + nordic skis and poles during ski trips, lower-than-SUV roof for easier kayak, etc, etc). I get 4 mtn bikes into my Golf TDI, but bottomed it out 5 times on VT ski trailhead roads and replaced 5 dented oil pans so far where was just lucky I didn't lose all oil. The X1 seems to be the best compromise for sport+driving+higher clearance, though going down from 50+ mpg to 30 mpg will be a shock at first).

So far in my view of driving, MT = "Just let me slice through my favorite gears" = joy of driving.

Were you a MT-fan like this? Did you make peace with the Sport-mode manual paddle shifting? I would appreciate any pointers here from your experiences.

IE - "You'll never like AT - you're not an elderly driver yet - keep your 20-something aggressive driving style - don't be pulled into the dark side of point-n-go convenience driving"


"If you simply adjust your driving style a LITTLE bit, such as no more stomping on gas and do some pre-planning to neutralize the AT lag and perhaps drive more sane like the slowed-down adult you're supposed to be, you'll find you like it with AT, and love it even more during 3-hour NYC traffic jams."

I need to do more testing with a BMW X3 with AT Sport-mode, to try to see if I can reverse-engineer how one might be able to drive "well" with it (or despite it).

My experience with AT in American rental cars had me kissing my steering wheel when I got back into my own MT car, though that's not a fair comparison (I think).
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