Manual labour

Posted on Jul 5, 2010 by
The Camaro is a lot more fun with manual transmission

The Camaro is a lot more fun with manual transmission, even though the automatic isn't bad

Last weekend I had another chance to try the 2010 Camaro SS. I’d already driven it on the launch event last year, but this was a chance to spend a few days with it, doing my own thing.

The biggest surprise, when the car turned up at AutoMiddleEast Towers, was that it had a manual transmission. This almost never happens – only twice that I can think of has a manual car been delivered when I haven’t specifically been told that I’ll need to use my clutch foot.

Such is the scarcity of manual cars here, it always takes me a while to readjust. Usually the first day with the car is spent lurching forward as I forget to put the clutch in while starting the engine, or bouncing off the rev limiter as I wonder why it isn’t changing gears by itself.

This Camaro illustration has nothing to do with gearboxes, but it looks cool. In fact, it's my new desktop wallpaper

This Camaro illustration has nothing to do with gearboxes, but it looks cool. In fact, it's my new desktop wallpaper

Once I’m back in the habit however, I remember just how much more fun it is to be able to swap cogs yourself. There’s a much greater feeling of involvement with the manual operation of a machine, rather than just pushing go and stop pedals as you pootle around town. Feel the clutch engage as you push the pedal in. Hear the mechanical parts clank as they respond to your inputs on the gear stick. Sense the vibrations from the cogs go up your arm and leg. You just don’t get that involvement on even the most modern and efficient of automatic gearboxes. If you drive for pleasure, manual’s the way to go.

Of course, it’s not nearly as much fun when you’re stuck in traffic. But I try not to think about that unless my left leg aches too much.

Incidentally, I really like the SS – it’s by far the best offering in the current Chevrolet range. It’s still my favourite modern and even though the interior is disappointing and my head touches the roof on the seat’s lowest setting, I’d buy one. As long as it has a manual transmission and someone gives me 175,000 AED.

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