Sunday, July 25, 2010

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It’s two decades since Ferrari first introduced a paddle-shift semi-automatic gearbox on its F1 car – the 640 raced by Nigel Mansell in 1989.

Now Ferrari has phased out manual gearboxes entirely in the 458 Italia – its replacement for the F430. Has the onward march of technology needlessly sacrificed the joy of swapping cogs with your own hands and feet?

In a word, no.

The automated manual geabox in the Ferrari 458 Italia gives you the option of fully automatic gear changes or doing the work yourself by pulling the paddles behind the steering wheels.

Ultra-purists of a Jeremy Clarkson persuasion will lament losing the opportunity to shift the gears and work the clutch themselves. But the demand for manual gearboxes simply isn’t there. Ferrari say just 1% of F430s were ordered with manual transmission.

In sports cars at least, it seems the age of the manual gearbox is coming to a close and those who lament its passing are fewer and farther between.


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