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Rubber Bands

2009-11-25 14:54:34.342613+00 by meuon 5 comments

Our Mini is in the shop for some body work after being rear-ended, and they rented me a nearly identical Mini for a few days.. Except for the automatic transmission it has, a 6 speed auto with a pseudo manual mode and paddle shifters. Driving back from Atlanta (nicely) the best I could get was 34mpg, instead of the 40-44 my stick can get. It barely made it up my driveway. The delay in shifting if I tried to use manual mode made it frustrating, It will override you, shifting even when you manually stick it in gear, which doesn't allow you to engine brake coming down the mountain, or off-ramps. However, Nancy commented she liked the less jerky ride into work this morning, so I'm going to have to concentrate on smoother shifting when she's in the car.

But I have a theory: If more small-medium sized cars were manual transmission, we, as a country would save a lot of gasoline.

It's also harder to talk on a cell phone, drive, shift and eat/drink. I think that's a good thing: Hang up and drive.

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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-30 03:36:29.755618+00 by: polly

this sounds like a challenge "talk on a cell phone, drive, shift and eat/drink"! I've mastered talking on two cell phones at one time (IRS had me on hold and grandson was in the other ear asking to be rescued from his mom)-driving with one knee, and mom in the front seat freaking out because of my driving..or lack of. I'll have to get me a straight shift and try it out! lol

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-28 23:08:56.771573+00 by: meuon

Update: Figured it out, if you put it in 'Sport Mode' with the little button in front of the shifter AND then manual shift, it stays where you put it. Still not as good as I am.. but I think the missing pieces for a truly good small car automatic transmission will be 'look ahead' radar and a stop sign/light detector.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-25 19:08:02.932206+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm okay with the 6 speed DSG in Charlene's car, but it takes a bit of getting used to. Because it's really an automated manual with a clutch and everything it's got some heuristics about when it applies the brakes that it mostly gets right, but driving in San Francisco hills it requires that I don't do soft-stops at stop signs.

However I also don't have a way to do apples-to-apples mileage comparisons of that transmission versus a manual.

And I don't drive much nowadays, and the truck is really a "point it somewhere in the right direction" soft ride that gets atrocious mileage anyway, so I haven't much missed the stick, but if I got a car that I wanted to drive (especially since I've been hanging out with Phil at race tracks of late) I'd definitely get a manual. And I'm pretty sure I'd get better mileage with it.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-25 16:51:52.707516+00 by: ebradway

Manual transmissions can save fuel if they are operated right. Most people use manual transmissions as a way to get better lead-offs at stop lights. Newer auto transmissions are starting to edge out the fuel economy gains of manual transmissions.

I'm surprised the manual mode on that transmission posed so much trouble. I used to regularly use the manual mode on my 2004 VW Jetta for engine braking and managing steep up-hill climbs (combined with traction control - the computer did a much better job of working on slippery hills than I could).

Of course VW/Porsche has been making hybrid auto/manual transmissions since the 60s (the tiptronic auto appeared in the Porsche 911 in the early 70s and the VW Beetle had a clutchless manual about the same time).

I really like the CVT that's becoming more common - fewer moving parts and a perfectly smooth ride (until the belt breaks...)

#Comment Re: made: 2009-11-25 15:08:09.67225+00 by: JT

I really miss having a manual transmission. Although I enjoy the automatic in some specific 4x4 situations, I really miss the gas mileage and control offered by a manual. Even with manually down-shifting when going down a mountain, the speed still seems to get a little more out-of-hand than if I were able to lock it in a single manual gear.