Manual options for some of the most popular cars sold in Australia are on the way out.
- Only 3 per cent of all car sales in Australia are manual
- Some retailers no longer have manual options for some of their most popular cars
- ABC listeners have lamented the slow death of the manual car
Which Car contributor Peter Anderson told ABC Radio Sydney Afternoons host James Valentine that the new Volkswagen Golf GTI was only available in an automatic transmission.
“You can’t get that in a manual in Australia anymore,” Mr Anderson said.
Mr Anderson said only 3 per cent of all car sales in Australia were manual, leading to the slow death of the manual car.
He said the Kia Cerato had an entry-level manual option, but sales figures were low.
“There’s a lot of functionality like stop and go, cruise control, that because there’s no mechanism for the car to dip the clutch, you can’t bring the car to a safe stop without stalling it.”
Toyota phased out its manual option for the Camry about a decade ago and the Corolla now only comes in an automatic transmission, a Toyota spokesperson confirmed.
Fewer than 5 per cent of Toyotas sold are manual transmission, therefore Toyota retailers here have stopped importing manuals.
But for car enthusiasts, high-performance models like the Toyota GR Yaris are only offered in a manual, setting customers back $49,500 for the entry model.
Ford has reported strong sales figures for some of its manual options.
Ford’s manual transmission option take-up is 29 per cent for the Mustang and 33 per cent for the Focus ST but lower for the Ranger, at 4.6 per cent.
The Ford Fiesta ST is available in manual only.
“We have not phased out manual on any vehicle recently, however certainly see a long-term trend in the marketplace towards automatic transmissions due to the comfort and convenience offered,” said Ben Nightingale from Ford.
Listeners lament their lost manuals
Listeners to Afternoons had strong reactions to the decline of the manual car in cheaper vehicles, sending in a flurry of text messages.
Jane: I have always driven manual cars. We recently got an automatic car and I am unable to get out of tight spots on a hill as I can’t put my left foot on the brake. It messes with my head and I have had to ask passerbys to help drive my car out of the spot.
Chris: Growing up on a farm with manual farm utes, tractors, motorbikes, etc there was no choice but to learn to drive a manual. We live in the city now but regularly spend time back on our family farm and my two boys, I’m pleased to say, have also learnt to operate manual vehicles. They will probably end up driving automatics most of their life but they can at least drive a manual if and when they need to.
Kylie: I bought a manual about 4 years ago with the intention of teaching my 3 daughters to drive it. My first daughter got her Ps on the manual (though I think our relationship is yet to recover), I gave up with my second daughter and am currently teaching my youngest — I’m a glutton for punishment! They get a bit of street cred from their friends (particularly the boys) and can hire cars in Europe (when we can travel)!
Marilyn: Manual cars are great, unless you regularly drive in peak hour traffic. You have better awareness, control & definitely concentrate more than auto drivers, who often drive with one arm hanging out of the window in summer. Try clutch starting an auto!
Manual options in small cars
Like Ford, Hyundai said it won’t be ditching its manual options any time soon. It’s sold more than 2,700 i30 N hot hatches, which has been manual-only since its launch three years ago. The car company is offering a dual-clutch automatic transmission version now for the first time.
The i20 N will also be manual-only when it launches in Australia later this year and the i30 is also still offered in a manual in its base form.
Hyundai Australia’s Bill Thomas said there were still plenty of customers who preferred to change gears themselves.
“We think it’s important to cater to drivers who want the choice of a manual transmission,” Mr Thomas said.