I'm not an old school guy. I love double clutch gearboxes and I think they're the way of the future. But I just drove a car with a gated manual shift and it's properly magical. It's also the end-of-the-line. So who is to blame?
(Full Disclosure: In order to get to VIR to drive the Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo, Lambo let me drive a Gallardo down there. A 50th Anniversary Gallardo LP560-2. With 82 total miles on it. And a gated manual shift. I know, you hate me. I also hate me.)
As far as I can tell, there are currently two cars you can buy with a traditional gated shifter: Audi R8 and Lamborghini Gallardo. And once the Gallardo is gone, which will be soon, the R8 will be the only one left since the Gallardo's replacement will be twin-clutch only.
I was ok with that. But that was before I had ever driven any car with a classic gated manual shift. It will change your outlook on life. And love.
The Gallardo is definitely faster with its paddle shift transmission, but it is so much better with the manual that the only reason not to buy it is if you only have one leg. And even then, the clutch is fairly light and very linear, a joy to use. I bet you could find a way to make it work with one leg.
Perhaps a pulley system?
You need to find a way to drive one, because the best part, by far, is shifting gears. The gates. Oh the gates. Dio mio. I don't know if there is a more evocative automotive sound than the distinct metal-on-metal clank of shifting a proper gated gearbox. Every single movement of the shift lever is satisfying, even a missed shift is fun, because it gives you a chance to shift again. It's almost like it was milled out of a single billet block of aluminum. If you're somewhat adept at using a manual gearbox, then this transmission is far smoother than e-gear would ever be.
Inherently, there is a reason why basically no Lambos have this transmission. And it's because nobody wants it. There were rumors that at one time, once e-gear was offered, Lamborghini went for an entire year without selling a Gallardo with a manual gearbox. Lambo has told me this isn't strictly true, but the take rate for a manual is less than five percent of Gallardos sold.
If you didn't know, the Gallardo isn't exactly the Toyota Corolla, so that means the relative number of shift yourself baby Lambos is very small.
It's expensive to have an option basically nobody wants, but Lambo has kept the faith all these years that people will come running to the gated shifter.
And that means that Lamborghini isn't to blame for the demise of the manual transmission in its cars. The people who buy its cars are to blame. I'm starting to write letters to all the Lambo buyers out there today, to implore them to start using their left leg while driving. It's getting weak just sitting there.
The rest of this car is classic Gallardo, except the interior is entirely Alcantara. The seats. The dash. The wheel. The roofliner. Literally everything. The seats also don't have an adjustable rake, which makes it become quite uncomfortable during an extended drive. So I just shifted gears a bunch to forget about the back pain.
But it's still really fast. It still sounds like the world's most badass symphony. I still think it's one of the best looking cars in the world.
It's not as fast as a Ferrari 458 or McLaren 12C on a track, but the manual gearbox makes it so much more involving. This is a case where I'd trade a few seconds on track for the manual transmission in a heartbeat. The Gallardo with a gated shifter goes from being a gorgeous car with a questionable transmission to one of the most evocative and emotional automotive experiences you could ever have.
There are only 30 anniversary edition Gallardos coming to America, and they're about $205,000 a pop. That's a bargain for the last manual transmission car Lamborghini will likely ever make.
Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you a gated manual shifter, and that's pretty damn close.