It\u2019s National Stick Shift Day! Here\u2019s Every Manual Car You Can Still Buy
This list was a good bit longer last time we assembled it back in 2011. Exactly 2.43 times longer. We’ve since said adios to Astons without automatics, bade farewell to the six-speed Ferrari 599, and sang sayonara to the manual Murcielago—not to mention all the cars for regular folks that are now auto-only. There was a time when choosing a manual transmission meant performance and efficiency advantages over the optional slushbox, but that time has come to an end. Modern automatics and variable transmissions consistently return better fuel economy ratings than their clutch pedal-equipped counterparts, and they shift quicker, too. It’s part of the reason why a manual-equipped Porsche 911 GT3 is 0.6 second slower to 60 mph than an identical car sporting Porsche’s PDK. There’s a case to be made for the automatic.
And yet there is still demand for the manual transmission. There is something tactile and analog and supremely satisfying about changing gears yourself that cannot be replaced with improved fuel economy or launch control and quick shifts. The responsibility of driving any vehicle is shared between human and machine, though the prospect of an autonomous future risks shifting that balance way in the direction of the mechanical bits. Rather than diminishing the role of the driver, a car with a manual transmission celebrates the human aspect of driving. That’s crucial, especially as automakers continue to push for autonomous cars. For those who’d prefer to pilot their own vehicles, this is our list of every car you can buy right now with a manual transmission.
BMW 2 Series / M2
It may be buried deep within the option list, but customers can still order a manual transmission for BMW’s smallest sport coupe. The row-your-own option is only available on rear-drive coupes; no all-wheel drive or retractable roofs if you want to shift gears yourself. Although regular 2 Series models default to the automatic, with an M2 you don’t even have to dig through the option sheet—the six-speed comes equipped right out of the box.
BMW 4 Series / M4
Yes, after more than 40 years, the manual 3 Series has left the building with the introduction of the seventh generation of BMW’s sporty luxury sedan. But at least for now, one of its descendants is still around: the six-speed 4 Series. Effectively a more handsome version of the last-gen 3 Series, the 4 Series can be had with a clutch pedal as long as it has a fixed roof and two doors. (Sorry, Gran Coupe buyers.) But there’s a loophole! If you’re craving a drop-top 4 Series with a stick, look no further than the M4 convertible.
Cadillac ATS-V Coupe
Like the 4 Series, Cadillac’s ATS coupe has lost its four-door counterpart; the ATS sedan is being replaced by the new CT4. The standard ATS two-door is only available with an eight-speed automatic, but step up to the ATS-V—a full-fat V car unlike the recently revealed CT4-V—and you’ll be greeted by the tactile familiarity of a six-speed manual and three pedals at your feet.
An auto-only pony car would be a sad thing, and thankfully Chevy is keeping us very happy with its current crop of Camaro models. Every Camaro that you can buy, you can buy with a manual transmission, from a stripper four-cylinder convertible to the mighty ZL1 1LE track special.
Chevrolet just keeps the clutch pedals coming. Just like the Camaro, every trim level and configuration of America’s sports car can be had with a stick, even the 750-hp Corvette ZR1. The Corvette’s seven-speed gearbox even boasts an extra ratio over the Camaro’s six-speed unit. Whether the mid-engine C8 Corvette will sport a manual option remains to be seen.
The plucky little Chevy Sonic may not be our favorite subcompact entry, but it does boast quite a few options for those who prefer to do the gear-changing themselves. Every Sonic, whether sedan or hatchback, has the option to pair its 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a six-speed manual.
If you crave a stick and a 1.4-liter engine but can’t spring for the turbo unit in the Sonic, check out the even smaller Spark. You’ll want the five-speed manual box to make the most of the Spark’s humble 98 horses.
On the other end of the power spectrum, Dodge offers a manual transmission on its old-school muscle car, but only if you go for one of the optional V-8s. No, you can’t buy a manual all-wheel-drive V-6 Challenger GT, but you can buy a six-speed Hellcat Widebody, and that’s much more important, is it not?
Fiat 124 Spider
Fiat’s not-a-Miata 124 Spider is a better car when it’s equipped with a manual transmission, which saves buyers $1,350 over the forgettable six-speed automatic. A three-pedal 124 Spider Abarth is the enthusiast’s choice, but the car we’re lusting after is the Abarth 124 Rally Tribute.
The modern Fiat 500 may have a barstool-esque seating position and polarizing cutesy styling, but we appreciate that all four trim levels come standard with a five-speed stick. Shifting your own gears will make any 500 more involving to drive—especially the unmuffled riot they call the Fiat 500 Abarth.
Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett announced last April that Ford will no longer be investing in sedans for North America, sealing the fates of the Fiesta and MotorTrend-beloved Fiesta ST. Thankfully, the Fiesta sedan and hatchback are sticking around for the 2019 model year, and all trim levels come standard with a five-speed manual box. The Fiesta ST is available exclusively with a six-speed manual, just as it should be.
Its sedans may be on their way out, but Ford’s original pony car won’t be going anywhere any time soon. All models from EcoBoost to GT Convertible are available with the choice a manual transmission, though the gorgeously green Bullitt and the mighty Shelby GT350 are manual only. Sorry, slushbox fans.
Genesis has gotten a lot right with the G70—it’s why we named the new sport sedan our 2019 Car of the Year. One detail ever-so-right about the G70 is its available manual transmission. It’s only available with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, but the six-speed is packaged together with performance and luxury goodies including Brembo brakes with uprated pads, 19-inch wheels wrapped in summer tires, a sport exhaust setup, and a 15-speaker audio system. A quick note: Only 4 percent of 2.0-liter G70s are sold with a manual gearbox. If you’re the kind of person who reads through this whole list and believes in the goodness of the manual transmission, vote with your dollar and go buy one so Genesis keeps making them!
Some drivers may be mourning the loss of Honda’s V-6 Accord, but the Japanese manufacturer has offered quite the consolation prize with the Accord Sport 2.0T and its detuned Civic Type R engine. The big-engine Accord can still be had with a six-speed manual, as can its little brother, the Accord Sport 1.5T.
We would love to see the statistic on how many drivers learned the art of the manual gearshift in a Honda Civic. The 2019 Civic hatchback, coupe, and sedan all feature manual transmission options, but the hatch is the only car of the bunch to pair a stick with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, unless you step up to the more powerful Civic Si. Those with deeper pockets and racetrack aspirations should look no further than the manual-only Civic Type R.
The diminutive Honda Fit is a miracle of automotive packaging. Its second-row Magic Seat can fold down or up, making the small hatchback surprisingly cavernous and offering more cargo space than plenty of subcompact crossovers and SUVs. Unlike those SUVs, all but the top trim level of Fit comes standard with three pedals and a stick. The driver’s Fit would be a manual Fit Sport with the optional factory performance package, but we would spend the extra dollars for a six-speed Fit EX with standard active safety features and Apple CarPlay integration.
Unlike some cars on this list that offer a manual gearbox as a performance option, the six-speed in the Hyundai Accent is purely a value play. It’s only available on the least expensive Accent SE, which limits buyers to steel wheels, only one USB charging port, and a tiny 5.0-inch infotainment screen without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. At least it saves $1,000 over the automatic.
While the Accent’s manual option was a frugal one, shifting opportunities lean toward performance with the Elantra sedan. The six-speed is standard on the base Elantra SE, but it’s also an option on the Elantra Sport—the only member of the Elantran sedan family to benefit from Hyundai’s 201-hp turbo-four.
Hyundai Elantra GT
Known as the i30 in Europe and Asia, the North American Elantra GT hatchback is available in two trim levels: a base model and the Elantra GT N Line. Only the N Line boasts a six-speed manual option, but it also benefits from a more powerful engine and unique styling front and rear. If only Hyundai would sell the top-dog i30 N here in the States.
If you’re looking for a sporty Hyundai in the U.S., the funky three-door Veloster hatchback is the way to go. The six-speed manual is available on base, Turbo R-Spec (pictured below), and Turbo Ultimate Veloster models (at least until model-year 2020), but drivers seeking top-level performance and capability should look toward the supremely sporty and manual-only Veloster N.
We found that Jeep’s miniature Cherokee was held back by its gutless 180-hp engine and slow-shifting nine-speed automatic in testing for our 2018 SUV of the Year, but one of those problems can be solved with a stick. Jeep offers a six-speed manual as the sole transmission option for the entry-level Compass Sport.
The Jeep Wrangler is our 2019 SUV of the Year; there’s no hiding the fact that we love this boxy truck. One thing we love about it is that every two-door and four-door Wrangler comes standard with a Pentastar V-6 engine paired with a six-speed manual, which saves $2,000 compared with the automatic. Those seeking the efficiency and torque of Jeep’s mild hybrid four-cylinder powertrain must sacrifice the manual box for an eight-speed auto.
Only the base model Kia Forte FE allows drivers to row their own gears, but worry not. Even the entry-level Forte boasts an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and FE buyers still get a taste of active safety tech with forward collision avoidance.
Like the Forte, the six-speed manual is only an option on the least expensive, least feature-laden Soul LX. The stick would have been a sporty addition to the Soul GT-Line Turbo with its more powerful engine, but that car is only available with Kia’s seven-speed dual-clutch.
Mazda MX-5 Miata / Miata RF
Mazda’s lightweight roadster is a gem in today’s SUV-dominated market that seemingly grows taller and heavier every year. The Miata’s is a driving experience unmatched by anything else on sale, and it’d be a shame to buy one without its perfectly notchy, sweet-shifting six-speed manual. It’s available on all trim levels of the Miata and Miata RF, and not only does choosing the manual save some cash up front, it also nets bonus performance features. A manual Miata Club benefits from Bilstein suspension, a limited-slip differential, and a shock tower brace, none of which come equipped if you opt for the auto.
The Clubman was the only four-door Mini until the debut of the Hardtop four-door in 2015, but the little wagonoid Clubman still stands out from the range with available all-wheel drive and split barn doors in place of the traditional hatch. All Clubmans, from the base model to the 228-hp John Cooper Works come standard with a six-speed manual.
Mini’s small crossover is made all the more involving when equipped with the optional six-speed manual. Not only that, the manual cute ute saves $1,500 over its auto-equipped siblings.
Mini Hardtop / Convertible
The Mini Cooper—in two-door, four-door, and convertible forms—can still be an involving little driver’s car, especially with its standard six-speed manual. Our biggest complaint? British Racing Green paint is only available on the pricey Cooper S Hardtop 60 Year Special Edition.
Mitsubishi Mirage / Mirage G4
The Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback and Mirage G4 sedan are underpowered, uninspiring, inexpensively built cars. To make the most of the Mirage’s 1.2-liter three-cylinder, opt for the base ES model’s five-speed manual and you might derive some enjoyment. (Maybe?)
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
A manual transmission can be hard to find when shopping for a small SUV, but if shifting your own gears is important to you, Mitsubishi has you covered. The five-speed manual is only available on the entry-level, front-wheel-drive Outlander Sport ES, but we’re glad it’s there.
The Nissan 370Z is definitely showing its age 10 years after its production debut in 2009, but it’s still a respectable sports car in its own right. It even introduced us to the rev-matching manual transmission back when it was first released. A six-speed manual is still standard on all 370Z coupes, including the all-out 370Z Nismo and throwback 50th Anniversary Edition. Sorry, 370Z Roadster buyers, no stick for you.
The Frontier is one of only two pickup trucks on our list after Chevrolet dropped the manual option on the Colorado pickup for the 2019 model year. The manual box isn’t available on all trim levels, but if you need a manual pickup, Nissan has four- and six-cylinder options for you.
The Sentra finished last in our seven-car compact sedans comparison, and the supposedly sporty Sentra Nismo failed to impress when we drove it for a First Test. That said, our opinion of the Sentra might be even lower without the option of a six-speed manual on the base Sentra S and top-trim Sentra Nismo.
The Versa S sedan is the least expensive car in America, with an MSRP of only $12,460. How did Nissan achieve such a low starting price? Well, part of that is the sole transmission option: a five-speed manual.
Porsche 718 Boxster / Cayman
There are few automatic transmissions better than Porsche’s PDK (short for Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe), but we’re grateful that the automaker’s pair of mid-engine sports cars still offers a manual gearbox. A six-speed manual is available on all 718 Boxster and Cayman models, and choosing the stick saves more than $3,000 over the PDK. A manual is also the only transmission option in the 718 Cayman GT4 and 718 Spyder.
The Porsche 911 is one of the few sports cars on this list that doesn’t suffer when equipped with its optional automatic. Porsche’s PDK is so quick and so precise that it doesn’t detract from the driving experience one bit, but analog-focused 911s like the Carrera T, GT3, and the limited-production manual-only 911 Speedster are undeniably more involving if you’re shifting gears yourself. A manual gearbox is not yet available in the new seventh-generation 911, but a source at Porsche tells us that three-pedal versions of the iconic sports car will be an option from next year on.
We may still be hoping for more horsepower in the BRZ, but thankfully we’ve never had to ask for a manual transmission. Like the Mazda Miata, the BRZ is a car that is made worlds better by the addition of a manual gearbox; it’s the key that unlocks this car’s fun factor. Plus, the optional performance package with upgraded brakes and suspension is only available with the stick.
Subaru’s CVT is one of the better-behaved variable transmissions on the market, but if shifting gears is more your speed, there are plenty of options. Take the Impreza for example, which offers five-speed manual options on both sedan and hatchback versions of the Impreza 2.0i and Impreza 2.0i Sport.
Subaru WRX / STI
The WRX hatchback may not have returned for its current generation, but the manual transmission in Subaru’s rally-inspired sedan is still going strong. All three WRX trim levels come standard with a six-speed manual, and the manual-only WRX STI has shorter gearing for quick acceleration. Choosing the manual over the CVT in WRX Premium and Limited models even nets a 3-mpg fuel economy advantage.
The multitalented Subaru Crosstrek toes the line between tall hatchback and small SUV rather well; it’s no surprise that multiple editors chose the Crosstrek when asked which SUV they would buy. The newest addition to the Crosstrek lineup, the Crosstrek Hybrid, is not offered with a manual, but lucky for us, the 2.0i and Premium models come standard with three pedals and a stick.
The Toyota 86 (formerly the Scion GT86) shares nearly everything with its co-developed cousin, the Subaru BRZ. Like the BRZ, the 86 is a much better-driving car with a manual transmission. In case you need more convincing, opting for the row-your-own option unlocks an extra 5 hp and 5 lb-ft of torque from the 86’s boxer four-cylinder.
Toyota Corolla / Corolla Hatchback
Toyota’s newest Corolla is better than it’s ever been, and thankfully, Toyota is still looking out for enthusiasts. A six-speed manual isn’t available on all Corollas, but it’s standard where it counts. The Corolla SE sedan and its more powerful 2.0-liter engine get the manual option, as do both trim levels of the Corolla hatchback, which also benefit from the stronger four-cylinder.
Toyota still offers a manual transmission on the Tacoma, but it’s not a value proposition. The optional six-speed manual is only available on TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and TRD Pro, all of which pair the six-speed with a V-6 engine and four-wheel drive.
The Mazda2-based Toyota Yaris pairs its 106-hp four-cylinder with a six-speed manual on the base Yaris L, which saves $1,100 compared with the automatic-equipped car. It’s the epitome of basic transportation, but at least you can buy it with a manual and rev that little engine to the moon.
Volkswagen Golf / GTI / Golf R
Dieselgate may have killed the Golf TDI, but the rest of the Golf family is still going strong. All models save for the all-electric e-Golf have a manual transmission option. Go for the six-speed in a Golf GTI, and you’ll even be treated to the GTI’s iconic golf ball shifter.
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack / Golf SportWagen
Few things could improve the Golf more than the longroof station wagon body on the Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack. If you think you need an SUV for the cargo capacity, take a look at a wagon first. Most of these Golf wagons have a manual transmission option, and it’s hard for us to think of a better daily than a six-speed Golf Alltrak in Great Falls Green metallic with Marrakesh Brown upholstery.
The Volkswagen Jetta lineup uses a manual transmission for economy and performance, not unlike the Nissan Sentra. The six-speed manual is available on either the base Jetta S or the 228-hp Jetta GLI. Especially in the case of the GLI, the manual is a much more rewarding drive.
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