mrdezign at netscape.net
mrdezign at netscape.net
Mon Dec 30 13:04:21 EST 2002
OK, I've been reading the manual vs slush box debate for weeks now and I can't hold my tongue any longer. As a dedicated gear head, I too have always disdained automatic transmissions. However, after having built several fast vehicles with "real" manual transmissions like the Muncie M22 "rock crusher" and some sweet Jericho boxes, I find it impossible to find an OEM manual transmission that compares. When I ordered my S4 Avant, the dealer was kind enough to let me thoroughly test a couple of sedans with the manaul gearboxs. Clearly disappointing. Even with an aftermarket shifter, the gear changes with the Audi box are vague and painfully uncertain.
Faced with the inevitable letdown of stirring the gears while holding my breath to see what might happen, I chose the Tip. Ok, it's not perfect, but it did allow for a new learning experience which proved quite rewarding with practice. It took a while for me to learn the drill and for the car to learn how I wanted to drive it through the twisty bits. But I can now say that tweaking those little rocker switches on the wheel can yield results that are not only effective but damn fun too. If I want to "pretend" there's always the option of changing gears with the floor mounted selector as well although it doesn't inspire as much confidence as having both hands on the wheel. In a straight line, it's like Capt. Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise as the rush of seemless acceleration feels like warp factor 10 all the way to orbit velocity.
I agree, it would be a damned shame to see manual boxes disappear but the only way to really enjoy stirring the gears is with a truly superior manual box, not available on most affordable road cars from the factory, Audi included. So here's the choices: compromise with what the manufacturer gives you, look at the improved automatics as a challenging new learning experience or build something you can bolt a "real" manual box into.
The Audi S4 is truly a superior road car in many, many ways, but it a'int all things to all drivers... no car is. If you really enjoy driving you just gotta have several cars, each with those unique characteristics that in total satisfy all those "needs" that "make you" drive in the first place. Most of us have more choices than cash but there's always that ultimate drive we all aspire too and every now and then get to experience. It's all in the chase not the capture.
The reality is that if you are driving an S4, no matter what gear box it has, you are one fortunate SOB. Stop whinnin' and keep drivin'. It's not what you drive, it's how much fun YOU have doin' it.
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