We talk often about the "death of the manual", but is it really dead? Or is it just momentarily dormant as the 6-speed slowly peters out and the 7-speed ramps up? I wish. More than likely, these +1 gear'd anomalies will remain just that; anomalies. Beautiful looking, amazing handling, anomalies.
On the way out to collect the 2014 Corvette Stingray (latest CCC fleet addition) with my boss Zac Moseley, we had a revelation. The 2012 Porsche 911 we were in, and the Stingray we were about to pick up, are the only two cars for sale in the US with a 7-speed manual. Then we had a mini-moment of silence, as we both realized that there would probably be very few, if any, further 7-speed manual cars in the future.
photo credits: Jonathan Harper
It's a sad prospect, but unfortunately, as Zac pointed out; enthusiast outcry is not enough to save the manual (apart from BMW's "Hail Mary" with the E60 M5). So what would save the manual? Is it a 7th speed? Or an 8th? Probably not.
What really could save the manual? It would have to be an innovation that not only continued to satisfy our primal desire to row gears and be in "full control" of the vehicle, but also fit with emerging trends of hybrid and other alternative powertrain options currently in development.
I don't have a solution, do you?