Why aren’t people learning to drive a manual car?

Manual cars are almost dead. So, this might be your last chance to enjoy them.

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Of all new car sales in Australia, less than 3% have a manual transmission, and the majority of those are mainly commercial and utility vehicles. That’s stark, isn’t it?

Popular nameplates, especially those in the passenger segments are slowly rationalising their line-up and no longer including manual cars as entry-level bargain options.

It’s a simple equation for manufacturers: if people aren’t buying them, why make them? Kind of like what happened to Allen’s Fantales – RIP.

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I’m not judging those who don’t have their manual licence, because I originally got mine in an automatic car.

I mean, unless you were 16 and had old-school or car-loving parents, it’s unlikely you'd find yourself learning to drive a stick shift as a learner driver. But I am judging people who haven't given it a go yet.

But now, I think about my boyfriend (yes, I will out him publicly). At the sight of a manual gear stick he gets a panicked expression on his face, which baffles me. He will seek thrills by plunging himself downhill on a mountain bike but doesn't pursue the opportunity to learn a manual.

Similarly, I have friends who willingly throw themselves out of planes (with a parachute, of course – not as some defiant act against Jetstar) and bungee jump off bridges.

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If you crave thrill that desperately then maybe you should start by stalling on a busy highway. Boy, that will give you a rush.

Adrenaline aside, there's a profound sense of satisfaction in your first successful drive. Embracing the thrill of mastering a new skill, you form a bond with your car that's akin to the strange connection Jake Sully shares with his horse in Avatar through that ponytail link.

It's an intimate relationship that's as exhilarating as it is uncomfortable.

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Other than pure enjoyment there are a heap of benefits to driving a manual car.

Firstly it demands focus, reducing your chances of distractions on the road. Secondly, it needs the ability to multi-task make quick decisions – both traits that will benefit you throughout life.

One study even found that shifting your own gears might make you more good-looking (though, to be clear, this last "study" was conducted solely by a panel of my own eyes).

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Now that you have some clear and compelling reasons to try driving manual cars, it's time to find one.

You can borrow one from a friend, hire one through a ride-sharing service (but check their policy on first-time drivers, because clutch replacements are expensive) or if you're in the position to, why not buy yourself a manual car? Let's bump up those manual sales stats to 4% this year, shall we?

With the resurgence of hot hatches and sedans, there's now a great chance to be getting yourself into something fun! And luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of every manual car you can buy in 2023.

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I fear that if you don't seize the opportunity soon, between government CO2 targets and the not-so-slow uptake of electric powertrains, you may just miss the boat.

A decade from now, when you're driving down your street and see every driveway with a car plugged into a charger, wouldn't you want to look back and know you grabbed life by the shift knob?


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