Perhaps The Future Of Subaru’s Manual Transmission Isn’t So Bleak After All

The manual shifter in a 2017 Subaru BRZ Yellow Series.
The manual shifter in a 2017 Subaru BRZ Yellow Series.
Image: Subaru

Subaru wants to have the safest cars in the world and the manual transmission, the one good thing left in this world, is holding that up, according to a report from AutoExpress. That led an executive at Subaru U.K. to give us all a big scare, with ideas of a future where BRZs and WRX STIs all shift their own gears.


While carmakers keep debuting crossovers and SUVs because they make major cash and while they keep pairing with autonomous tech companies because no one wants to drive anymore, it’s been nice to have Subaru stick with its driving-oriented roots. But Subaru U.K. director Chris Graham said recently he doesn’t seem confident manuals will stay around, which was, frankly, terrifying.

A spokesperson for Subaru of America, on the other hand, told Jalopnik that the U.S. market is “invested in manuals.” That’s a good sign, at least.

According to AutoExpress, the factor behind Graham’s view of the manual having a shaky future is Subaru’s EyeSight. EyeSight is a driver-assistance feature that uses cameras to operate automatic emergency braking, aspects of cruise control, and lane-departure warnings. Subaru’s U.S. website says it’s available on certain Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza, Legacy, Outback, and WRX models, but problems apparently come when a car has a manual transmission.

Graham told AutoExpress he’s not at all sure whether EyeSight is compatible with a manual, and it doesn’t sound like there’s much in the works to make it that way. Here’s what he said, from the story:

“... There are certainly no rumours we’ve heard that manual will continue, or Eyesight will be [offered] with manual.

“My gut tells me it will be Eyesight with Lineartronic ongoing and long term. They want to steal the mantle of the safest car in the world. I think if they do that, then they say ‘here’s a manual without Eyesight’, they’ll just ruin that [message].

“We’ve spoken for many years about [the safety granted by] boxer engines and symmetrical all wheel drive. We’re now talking about safety that’s not just underpinned by the chassis, but by Eyesight, boxer and symmetrical all wheel drive.

“All these things are reinforcing the safety message. The safety message is the thing Subaru will want to take forward.”

Graham said in the current form of the enthusiast-oriented WRX STI, for him, it has to be a manual. But that’s not the case for the future, he told AutoExpress:

“[I]f you look at [auto-only] M-series BMWs, I don’t think this is the end and I’d be very excited if they had a hybrid petrol STI. That would be phenomenal in terms of its acceleration.”


But a spokesperson for Subaru of America said manual transmissions are big for the company in the U.S. market, and didn’t express any doubts about its future.

“I can’t speak for Subaru U.K., but I do know they no longer sell STI and WRX,” the spokesperson told Jalopnik. “As for the U.S. market, we are invested in manuals and just went to great lengths to make sure our most recent model, the all-new Crosstrek, was launched with a six-speed manual.”


The spokesperson said more than 80 percent of BRZ, WRX and STI models are manuals, and that manuals are “important to our market.”

Before the spokesperson from Subaru’s U.S. division responded to Jalopnik for comment, alternative headlines for this post included:

  • I Am Dead
  • I Am Dead Inside
  • I Am Dead Inside, Do Not Try To Revive Me
  • I Am So Dead I Don’t Know How I’m Typing This
  • Subaru Killed Alanis And We Don’t Know How To Carry On
  • Alanis Is Literally Ghost Writing This Post
  • I Am Currently Making The Same Noises As An Angry Prehistoric Bird
  • Unfortunately My Employment Papers Tell Me I Must Blog In The Afterlife

Thank you for having humanity, Subaru of America. We hope it stays this way.

Staff writer, Jalopnik


Indiana Jones, PhD

How to make Subaru fans happy:
Keep manuals
Hatchback WRX

Turbo BRZ