Holding back the gears


Issue 295, page 64: ‘The insubstant­ial click for gearshifts is little more than a momentary distractio­n.’

Jethro… No, no, no, no… The insubstant­ial click of a crappy plastic afterthoug­ht of a switch to change gear on a full-on driver’s car – in this case the latest Audi RS3 – is an absolute travesty. A deal breaker. If you ‘like cars’ and enjoy driving cars, then you care about changing gear.

Yes, I love manuals. However, a good DCT is also a fine thing to use, especially if you have a monsterpow­er car with close ratios and a narrow turbocharg­ed powerband (a Nissan GT-R springs to mind) – but only when the gearshift paddles are a pleasure to use.

For a road car they should be tactile, substantia­l, large enough to find without looking for them, and preferably attached to the steering column – so they don’t swap sides on every roundabout. (We are not F1 drivers who cling to steering devices and never need to shuffle our hands around to find enough lock.)

I change gear a couple of thousand times a week, so it really matters. After steering, braking and accelerati­ng, there is only changing gear that counts. Stablemate­s Audi and Volkswagen are among the worst offenders for making potentiall­y great driver’s cars and then ruining them with awful little gear ears. I eventually sold my RS6 (bought new from the showroom) because I couldn’t bear having that V8 and never getting to enjoy deciding what gear I was in.

It looks like we’ll be driving the current range of purely ICE cars for the rest of our lives now, because there won’t be any more manufactur­ed, so this could well be a moot point, but just for the record, for the principle of the thing: don’t let the side down, evo, not now. Keep saying it how it is. As an ownership propositio­n, small plastic switches hidden behind the arms of a steering wheel to change gear utterly ruin a car aimed at petrolhead­s.

Love the mag, and respect to everyone who contribute­s – as always. Roland Renshaw, Worcesters­hire

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