Warning: techy, slightly geeky column approaching, about the quality of manual gearshifts.
Yes, 500 words on them – considerably more than most commentators would persevere with but, believe me, far less time and effort than transmission engineers, managers and marketers spend trying to make the way you pull from third to fourth gear feel ‘premium’ or ‘sporty’.
Can a gearshift feel premium? It can, and it matters, because there are lots of car companies who’d like to move upmarket. It’s the only way they can think of to make money.
Some realise they won’t achieve it by simply throwing into a cabin a bit more leather here and a bit more real metal (instead of plastic metal) there. Some have tried that and then wondered why, despite using pretty much the same materials at the same cost as an established premium – read ‘big German’ – rival, customers sit inside their cars and don’t quite buy into it.
I think it’s because people have an innate ability to detect quality, whether they realise it or not. They see that, yes, they’re sitting in a cabin where the leather looks convincingly like dead cow, but they notice the clutch has a weird action and the steering column adjuster flops about. They recognise, too, that the gearshift feels the same as the one from that car they hired on Mykonos four years ago.