Chris Harris, for Jalopnik, as cheeky as ever:
The GT4 is a massively important test-case for the future viability of the manual transmission. It sows the seed of a new generation of drivers’ cars that speak a language of interaction and not lap-times.
In the neo-manual phase, the stick will become the chronograph to the digital watch of the early 1980s – not as technically good on an Excel spreadsheet, but way more desirable. And capable of supporting a premium price.
I liked his next analogy even more:
Or maybe a comparison with vinyl albums is better? The LP was unceremoniously dumped in the early ’80s for that modern marvel and sonic disaster that was the compact cassette tape (unless you could afford a Nakamichi Dragon) which was itself dumped for the Compact Disc; the format that has now been usurped by the digital audio file. The irony being that sonically, the original vinyl record when played though good quality equipment still offers the best sound and easily the most enjoyable interactive experience.
Harris notes that the brands’ choice to forego the manual option is a purely financial one:
The argument against persisting with both manual and paddle-based options for modern fast cars is often presented as a philosophical one […] but this is complete balls. Everything comes down to cash. To make a manual work it has to communicate with all the control units and this costs time and money, and if the sales dudes tell you that the predictive computer suggests just ten percent of buyers will choose such a tranny, the decision is made for you.
But what if those sale dudes were asked to investigate if a run of, say, 200 Ferrari F12s fitted with an open-gated stirring stick between the seats, at a $50k premium over the normal car would sell? Five years ago, they’d have drawn a blank. In 2015, they’d flog them all in minutes. This signifies a very welcome shift in customer behavior, although whether that’s a demonstration of a move back to three pedals or a blind addiction to anything ‘limited edition’ remains to be seen.
Maybe the GT4 will usher in a new era in which the manual box will be available, albeit with a nifty ‘nostalgia tax’ along with it?
Sounds about as worth it as The Apple Tax™.