The performance cars you can still get with a manual gearbox

Is the manual gearbox potentially making a last-minute comeback?

It’s no secret that manual gearboxes have been dwindling in popularity in recent years, with many car buyers simply not interested in changing gear themselves.

And as no hybrid or electric car is likely to be offered with a traditional gearstick, the days of finding a manual gearbox in a new car are truly numbered. It’s true of performance cars, too, with very few actually being supplied with anything that isn’t an auto ‘box.

It’s not over just yet, though, with several manufacturers in recent months coming out to say their performance cars will still be offered with a stick shift. None more so than Toyota, which has revealed its GR Supra with a manual gearbox as the brand aims to cater more to the driving enthusiast market.

But what other new performance cars can you still get with a manual shifter? Let’s take a look.

Photos: PA Media

Toyota GR86

Toyota is really catering to the sports car market, with its GR Supra and GR Yaris getting the brand’s performance division off to an incredible start. But it’s the GR86 that really seems to have hit the nail on the head, with its pricing making it one of the most affordable sporting models on the market.

Ford Mustang

There are few better ways of enjoying the American lifestyle than with Ford’s Mustang. A true brutish muscle car, Ford has been officially importing them in right-hand-drive since 2015.

You might expect it, by default, to come with an automatic gearbox, but Ford actually offers it with a six-speed manual gearbox, which really lets you make the most of its raucous 444bhp 5.0-litre V8 engine.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

These days a DSG automatic gearbox is commonplace in pretty much every performance model from the Volkswagen Group, but for those that like a traditional manual ‘box, VW still caters with a six-speed manual on its legendary Golf GTI.

Now in its eighth generation this hot hatch is a seriously good option for those that want to use their performance car every day, with this latest Golf also getting a tech-laden interior and bolder styling than its predecessors.

Porsche 911 GT3

Buying a new manual supercar in 2022 is pretty much impossible, but one exception to that rule is the magnificent Porsche 911 GT3. Coming with a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six engine, and the choice of manual or PDK automatic gearbox, if you really want to enjoy your GT3, the manual is by far the best option.

The GT3 offers fierce performance and a fiery, analogue character that you don’t get from modern performance cars. But with a steep starting price, the GT3 certainly isn’t a car many will be able to enjoy.

Lotus Emira

Lotus has been rather bold with its electrification strategy, as after the launch of the new Emira sports car later this year, every car this British brand launches in the future will be an EV. That makes the Emira even more sacred, and undoubtedly a future classic.

Using the investment from Chinese automotive giant Geely (which owns Lotus), the Emira is the firm’s first brand-new model in more than a decade, and represents a significant step forward where technology and quality are concerned. Yet, purists will be pleased that Lotus will still sell you an Emira with a traditional gearstick.

Mazda MX-5

New performance cars don’t get much more affordable than the MX-5, and this two-seat roadster is hugely entertaining to drive, and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face whatever the weather.

The vast bulk of MX-5s sold today also come with a manual gearbox, making it a fantastic choice for those that still like to change gear the traditional way. With generous equipment levels and low running costs, there’s a lot to like about this little Mazda.

Hyundai i30 N

Like Toyota, Hyundai has quickly established itself as a performance car brand to be reckoned with, and it was the i30 N that got this firm’s sporty arm off to a brilliant start. Based on what is usually quite a mundane hatchback, it’s truly transformed when the brand’s ‘N’ division gets its hands on it.

Though Hyundai recently introduced an automatic gearbox option as part of a mid-life update, a conventional six-speed manual remains available, and is the version to go for if you want to make the most of this hot hatch.

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