The demise of the manual transmission has been greatly exaggerated for years now, and continues to be, even as carmakers like Porsche tack on a seventh gear and Nissan sells its SynchroRev match system. At Lamborghini, however, the manual transmission appears to be done, with automated manuals, like the new ISR pictured below, the only offerings. But will anyone really care?
The news comes from an interview at Motor Trend with Maurizio Reggiani, head of R&D for Lamborghini, who characterizes the manual transmission as a disconnect in the otherwise electronic chain of command that "harmonizes absolutely everything that happens between the engine combustion chamber and the tire contact patch." Introducing the human error element means the system will never function as well as it could. That makes perfect sense, but what about the enjoyment drivers extract from handling the gears themselves?
That is unlikely to matter to any Lamborghini owners. As Motor Trend senior editor Jonny Lieberman noted on his Facebook page, "I asked a guy at Lambo Beverly Hills once how many manual Murcielagos they'd sold over ever. Answer: 1." That's right--over the whole model run of the Murcielago, the dealership sold just one with a manual transmission.
Given the speed and precision of the modern robotized manuals and dual-clutches out there, it's clear that the manual transmission is no longer the best solution for ultimate performance. All that stands in the way of the stick shift's complete elimination is the "purist" enthusiast who refuses to let go of that element of skill and control, or who simply enjoys the process. But that must be weighed against the overall experience of the car, taken through the lens of the manufacturer, and against real-world performance.
We understand the desire to drive a manual, but we can't say we're sad to see it go at Lamborghini--the bulls will still rage as hard as ever, perhaps even more so, as they continue to push the envelope of materials, performance, and technology as in the new Aventador.