7 Cool Cars with a Manual Transmission

Find a sweet new stick shift without laboring over the classifieds.

Cars that come in stick shift

Manual transmissions seem to be going the way of the dodo (a sad fact I lamented not long ago). That begs the question: If fewer manuals are being sold today, how in the world do we lonely stick-shift lovers find a decent set of wheels?

Are we relegated to ghostly used-car lots? Do we have a grim future of scanning classifieds? Are we going to fade into the margins of the marketplace, waiting with twitchy ankles for the rusted hand-me-downs our elders drove during the Reagan administration?

Well, no. Because it turns out automakers do still care about stick drivers — and they make some of their coolest cars with us in mind. Here are 7 new, modern, and manual cars to prove it.

2013 Buick Regal

Might as well come out with a bang — the first Buick available with a manual transmission since the 1989 Skyhawk! And for even more proof that this is one awesomely rare ride, it’s also a turbo with 220 horsepower. Giddy up.

Base price: $31,530

Most likely reason you’re buying it: to fool people into thinking you’re a kindly, retired orthodontist so they wave you ahead when exiting parking lots.

2013 Mazda Miata

The Miata has come in manual for over 20 years now and with good reason. As one of the lightest cars on the road (with a chassis that’s just over 2,000 pounds) and the most playful (can its top even go up?), the Miata has a definite carefree, sports-car vibe that can only be perfected with its famously easy-to-use shifter. And it appears, for now, that this formula ain’t going anywhere.

Base price: $23,720

Most likely reason you’re buying it: your current car AND blow-dryer both broke, so, hey, kill 2 birds….

2013 Audi TT RS

This ride should hold a special place in the hearts of stick drivers because not only is it a coveted, new vehicle available to us — it’s available only to us. Yes, in a world where many high-performance carmakers avoid manual transmissions for fear of losing customers, Audi has done the opposite: made a stick-only sports car to specifically attract (and thank) their hands-on, gear-loving fans. And with a stunning 0-60 time of just 4.1 seconds, the TT RS clearly isn’t a consolation prize.

Base Price: $58,095

Most likely reason you’re buying it: you want a nice car … and you want to ensure your newly licensed 16-year-old has no idea how to use it.

2013 Mazda5 Sport

There are many reasons you might drive a van. Maybe you happen to love them. Maybe it’s the only thing that can fit your family. Maybe you’re on the A-Team. Who knows. Point is, having a van doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your love for the manual transmission. As the Mazda5 minivan proves, stick shifts can appear in the least likely of places — and in this case, can cost roughly a grand less than an automatic.

Base price: $19,940

Most likely reason you’re buying it: you’re a member of the A-Team with a giant dog and a strong passion for drivable minivans.

2013 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

What’s that you say? Why tease when you (like most people) have no shot at affording such a beautiful, exotic treasure? Fair enough. But by golly, if Popular Mechanics is predicting this V-10, 560-horsepower bolt of sweet lightning will be the last manual Lamborghini ever makes, then it’s going on the list!

Base price: $202,000

Most likely reason you’re buying it: the Prince of Monaco’s birthday is coming up and you hear he’s a total car nerd.

2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

A feisty throwback to the muscle-car era — from the racing stripe along the center to the white ball atop the shifter — this Shelby can make waves with more than just its looks. It boasts 650 horsepower, can reach over 200 mph, and comes standard with a 6-speed transmission.

Base price: $54,650

Most likely reason you’re buying it: you’re shooting a modern-day remake of Grease.

2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

When you’ve mastered the stick shift, you want a vehicle that lets you prove it. Go off-roading in this 4×4 (with a long, herky-jerky shifter that you just don’t find on sedans and sports cars) and you’re sure to turn your passengers into awestruck putty. This is one of the last 4x4s with a manual transmission, so make sure to cherish it.

Base price: $30,595

Most likely reason you’re buying it: to show your old drivers ed teacher how far you’ve come.

So take heart, stick-shift diehards. As you can see there are still plenty of cool manual transmission cars on the market … and in any price range.

16 Responses to “7 Cool Cars with a Manual Transmission”

  1. Barbara
    March 13, 2013 #

    How could you leave off any VW's? Just traded a 2007 GLI Fahernheit 6-speed for a 2013 Golf R 6-speed with on demand all-wheel drive. Wicked fast and nimble.

  2. Alvin
    March 14, 2013 #

    Hey, how about all the Subaru's. Great cars

  3. ss396
    March 22, 2013 #

    I have a 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T with the 5.7 hemi V8, 6 speed manual Tremec tranny w/ 3.92 posi rear end. Complete with retro pistol grip shifter, only this manual shifts with a precision we could only dream about back in the day.

  4. Joe Skeptical
    March 23, 2013 #

    Yes, 7 is a good number for this article, but there are many more; Mazda's CX-5, 6 sedan, MX5 Miata and 3 also have clutches available, Honda's Accord and Civic, Ford's Fusion and Focus, Dodge's Dart, the Toyota Corolla, Subaru Outback, VW Passat and Jetta, GM's Buick Verano Turbo and Cadillac ATS and CTS, Chevrolet's Cruze, Camaro and Corvette, BMW's 3 and 5 series and Audi's A3, A4 and A5 also Hyundai's Elantra in its 3 body styles.

  5. John
    March 25, 2013 #

    The new Dodge Dart also has a manual transmission. The base model is under $17k.

  6. Mark
    March 26, 2013 #

    Cadillac CTS V. I just pushed mine to 196 mph at the Texas Mile. Here is a link. Enjoy.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlC0QZ106b8

    • Josh
      April 1, 2013 #

      The manual trans in the CTS is dead.

  7. vince
    April 4, 2013 #

    the 2013 Mercedes SLK 250 is available with a 6 speed manual trans as well, not to mention it is a 2 seat convertable as well and less the then Audi mentioned.

  8. Lou
    April 11, 2013 #

    What about MINI? I love my 6-speed manual transmission MINI.

  9. Jan
    April 13, 2013 #

    I'm with you about manual transmission, Alex. I LOVE my manuals . . . driving an automatic is so old-fogey boring!! BUT . . . I am afraid my next car will be an automatic anyway. In the country, where it snows, with a long driveway, and about 40 miles from where I work is propelling me to a four-wheel drive vehicle. I'm HOPING LIKE H*LL that the upcoming Honda Urban SUV will be available with a manual transmission, but I have serious doubt that it will. Like you, I often correct the grammar, punctuation, and spelling of friends and am rarely thanked for my efforts! HAH!

    • Yitz
      April 17, 2013 #

      Jan – how about the Subarus? They have AWD

    • Phil
      April 20, 2013 #

      Jan, how about an AWD Subaru Outback with a manual transmission? I've had two Subaru Outbacks and loved both of them!

  10. Scuromondo
    April 24, 2013 #

    The 6-speed manuals on the Honda Civic Si, and the VW GTI have consistently been ranked among the smoothest shifting of any production car. Plus they are both very fun-to-drive compacts…and there aren't any compacts on your list!

  11. Russ
    April 24, 2013 #

    Gotta agree with Lou. Get yourself in the seat of a Mini S' with the JCW pkg and you will have all the
    manual shifting cornering machine you can handle. And get some great gas mileage while your at it.

  12. Maggie
    April 27, 2013 #

    I LOVE driving a manual transmission… have had three of them so far. Currently just driving an older model Ford Escort with a stick, and missing my other cars (wrecked in Winter snow-laden streets by hit-and-run drivers)… so perhaps I will consider putting it on the line for that new Mustang (I miss my classic "Stang a lot!) cuz it's sure pretty and fun to drive… …and because I doubt I'll EVER be able to financially swing a Lamborghini! :)~

  13. Bob Redhawk
    September 9, 2014 #

    I learned on a manual shift; I had manual shift on ALL my vehicles, EXCEPT my current truck (a 1994 Toyota 4×4). If I could find a small 4×4 with a stick shift…the Toyota would be gone!

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