So manuals aren’t dead, after all. The third pedal on many cars has disappeared in favor of automatic transmissions and dual clutch gearboxes. In day-to-day driving and traffic we have to say we prefer the car doing the shifting (ducks for cover), but the choice needs to be there for everyone to make.
Dearth of manuals on the market has been widespread enough that Car and Driver started a “Save the Manuals” movement in 2010. Hey, why not? They have everything else: save the whales and the tigers and mutts at your local Humane Society. That effort was started after even exotic companies like Ferrari abandoned the traditional manual.
Other manufacturers, like Porsche, say they will continue to offer a manual for as long as customers demand it. Porsche recently stretched the boundaries of modern manuals by offering a seven-speed in the new 911.
C&D reports a win for their “Save the Manuals” effort with news that Ford is expanding manual availability to the Focus Titanium. The Titanium is the top-shelf trim line of the Focus. Manual transmissions have thus far only been available on the base S and SE models. SEL and Titanium buyers have to make do with the auto. The Titanium is available with a handling package that makes the drive experience a lot more engaging. As such the Titanium with handling package is the enthusiasts choice….at least until the manual-only ST arrives later this year.
With Ford seeing this demand for manual Titanium models, it is going to start offering them beginning in March. Somewhat of a conundrum though is the fact that the take rate on existing manuals hasn’t been to great; only seven percent C&D reports. That likely comes down to the limited availability issue; most Focus buyers don’t want the stripper model. With all the demand for a third-pedal Titanium, it should see higher take rates.