Favorite transmission you’ve driven?

By Colin Wood
Jul 11, 2022 | manual transmission, transmission, Dual-Clutch Transmission, automatic transmission, CVT, Discussion, Gearbox

Photography Courtesy Porsche

In a day and age in which transmissions can range from quick-shifting dual-clutch gearboxes to units with a virtually infinite number of ratios, what is your favorite that you’ve driven?

Do you prefer the slick-shifting six-speed of a Honda S2000 or a fast-on-its-feet PDK in a Porsche 911? Or, perhaps, you enjoy something else entirely like the direct drive found in a Tesla model S Plaid or the CVT used in Formula 500 cars?

Whatever it is, let us know.

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Sonic UberDork
7/11/22 9:45 a.m.

The 6 speed in my NSX is pretty fantastic.  You can feel everything so clearly through the shifter, the ratios are all spot on, no weird noises, easy maintenance.   

Defined motorsports
Defined motorsports SuperDork
7/11/22 10:20 a.m.

In reply to Velement :

Thanks canoe. 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/11/22 10:38 a.m.

I've owned a few manual Hondas and a Miata, which are all known for great shifters, but honestly, my favorite was the old-fashioned T5 in my 1989 Fox body Mustang with a Pro 5.0 shifter. So solid and direct, it felt like a rifle bolt.

dculberson MegaDork
7/11/22 10:40 a.m.

1999 Miata. Bought with low miles (30k or so) and enjoyed the heck out of that slick shifting manual transmission every time I drove it.

Aaron_King GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/11/22 11:29 a.m.

My favorite manual was the one in the 67 Lotus Super Seven that belonged to a friend of my Dad, my 64 Spitfire comes in second.  As for automatics, the 7 speed auto in our 06 R class is by far the best one I have used.  Even at 180K miles it shifts so smooth.

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
7/11/22 11:37 a.m.

The PDK in my Cayman was a marvel of modern engineering.  The 6 speed in my ND Miata is the best manual I've ever felt.  I took my buddy's 911 GT3 manual for a spin and I strongly prefer the Miata transmission to the Porsche manual.

frenchyd MegaDork
7/11/22 11:41 a.m.

In reply to ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) :

Cadillac LaSall 

It's  a 3 on the tree and it's positively sexual how smooth it is.  Finger tip shifting with gravity assist into 2nd gear. 
   The last ones were put into a few hearse's  back in 1953. 
 I really pity those who haven't used one

    I also like Duesenburg 3 on the floor.  The one I drove had 47,000 miles on it  and was 32 years old.  But it was snick snick snick into all three gears and even reverse just dropped in without grinding.   Long lever but smooth. Not at all not at all notchy.   

Jay_W SuperDork
7/11/22 1:16 p.m.

I have 2. The one that is in any Miata, and the PDK in the GT3 that I got to spend 10 minutes of quality time with. 

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/11/22 1:23 p.m.

My first manual trans car - a 1968 Chev with a three on the tree and a very worn clutch was a bunch of fun.  But if I had to pick a really nice transmission that I've driven I'd have to say the S2000.  Very precise & tight, good feedback.

c0rbin9 Reader
7/11/22 1:30 p.m.
  1. Integra GS-R/S2000 (GS-R: smoothest feel, zero notchiness but still direct feeling)

  2. 1991 BMW 318is (also very smooth, light action)

  3. Shelby GT350 (more direct feeling than the above, but higher effort)

  4. FD RX-7 (tied with Shelby; very tight and direct, some grittiness if pedal work not perfect, takes a while to warm up)

  5. 2006 Viper

  6. FRS

  7. Z32 300ZX/R32 GT-R (tight and direct, but feedback when going into gear not great)

  8. 2010 Shelby GT500

  9. (tier 2)

  10. Porsche 968 (heavy large stock shift knob balanced on top of spindly feeling linkage; hard to miss a shift, feels purpose built, would probably be good when shifting quickly on a track)

  11. 987 Boxster (very light, but linkage feels flexible. Feels like you will break the shifter)

  12. 1983 Porsche 911SC

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