I'm on the lookout for my first car and one of my criteria is a manual transmission. Everyone told me not to push through with it and get a car with CVT or automatic instead. Aside from being thrown into base models devoid of features, the MT is just not practical for a city with hellish traffic. Even Caco, who's driven a manual car for years, advised against me getting one.
To be blunt, they're totally right but like advice about my love life, I'm stubborn and would rather try things out for myself. Thanks to Suzuki Philippines for lending me a Swift 1.2 GL MT to see if I can survive the city.
Back in driving school, I was already tasked to driving in tight city streets with trikes, pedicabs, unruly pedestrians - basically the worse conditions for driving a manual car. Pair that with badly maintained sedans and it was really a tough time on the road. Thankfully this Swift has a responsive throttle and soft clutch with low biting point which helped me survive in the city. Still, the MT is cumbersome to drive compared to a 'matic. However, it's these same things that give the MT an advantage over two pedals.
The automatic driver can last on EDSA with one hand on the wheel and one foot on the brake pedal, while the manual driver requires all two arms and legs. Doing the necessary movements for the clutch and stick will make you more alert on the road.
Shifting is also another advantage manuals have. I've experienced going up parking buildings and suddenly the automatic car shifts up, resulting in power loss. With a manual, you can maintain the low gears as much as you want.
There's also overtaking at high speed where, if you don't have a manual option or paddle shifters, you're doomed to just floor the gas pedal and hope you can overtake that turtle on the left lane. With a manual car, you can simply downshift - pass the car - then upshift again.
It's easy to dismiss the manual as an enthusiast's preference but it's not. I just like the control it gives me. In my job, I shoot photos and videos in manual mode and don't let the camera decide for me. When I edit them, I polish each file with dedication and focus instead of using presets and Lookup Tables. When it comes to food, there are ready-made options available everywhere that you can buy or order online (which I do) but you can also cook for yourself, making sure that it’s exactly to your liking (which I also do).
It's the same with my car - I want it to perform the way I want to. I want it to tell me if I'm not doing well, or reward me every time I get the clutch right. I don't want to be disappointed when it fails to do something because it's an automatic. It might be a hassle to drive in the city, but just a few runs in nearby curves like the Shotgun trail in San Mateo remind me the pleasure of driving with a manual, and that makes it all worth it.
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