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