Any self respecting car lover knows that to buy a sports car or supercar without a manual transmission (if given the choice) is unforgivable sacrilege. I understand that all new exotics don’t even offer a stick anymore, but that doesn’t mean their aged predecessors shipped only with dual pedals. Here are five modern sports cars that should never, under any circumstance, be bought without the ability to row your own gears.
The MG Car Company Limited was a former British sports car manufacturer founded in the 1920s by Cecil Kimber. Best known for its two-seat open sports cars, MG also produced saloons and coupés. Kimber was an employee of William Morris, MG is from Morris Garages. The MG business was Morris's personal property until 1935 when he sold MG into his holding company, Morris Motors Limited, restructuring his holdings before issuing (preference) shares in Morris Motors to the public in 1936. On 22 July 2005, the Nanjing Automobile Group purchased the rights to the MG brand and the assets of the MG Rover Group for £53 million creating a new company MG Motor, The words performance, handling and fun go hand-in-hand when talking sports cars. Many would argue these speedsters should seat only two passengers and sport rear-wheel drive, but automotive thrills can arrive in many forms. While the affordable Ford Mustang has been top of mind with visitors to MSN Autos for many months, in the third quarter of 2008 it was unseated by another American icon is Chevrolet Corvette.
Long an American icon, the current Corvette is also a world-class, high-performance sports car. And for 2009 the 'Vette moves into exotic car territory with the all-new ZR1. Powered by a 638-horse supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, the Corvette ZR1 is capable of 205 mph on the track. The standard Corvette is no slouch either, with its 430-horsepower V8 and impressive fuel economy numbers of 16 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
When the latest Mustang debuted in 2005, its flashback styling tapped into a deep well of American automotive lust. Its retro design — plainly displayed via round headlights, triangular windows, three-element taillights, and galloping-pony grille — only added appeal to one of the last affordable American sports cars. Available as a coupe or convertible, the Mustang continues to be one of the most popular cars in the Ford lineup, offering a variety of performance options, including a 300-horsepower V8 engine in the GT.
The M3 is the high-performance version of the BMW 3-Series and was completely new for 2008, powered for the first time by a V8 engine. Offered in coupe, sedan and convertible versions, the M3 is even more aggressive than its predecessor with a power dome in the middle of the aluminum hood, a rear diffuser, and gills in the front fenders that include the blue/purple/red M3 logo. The 4.0-liter V8 puts out 414 horsepower at a high-revving 8300 rpm, and is teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission or a new 7-speed M Double-Clutch transmission with Drivelogic, specifically designed for the M3's engine.
The legendary rear-engine sports car, the 911 has managed to retain its trademark silhouette since its inception over 40 years ago. A number of different versions are available, with the range-topping 911 Turbo cranking out 480 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter flat six. With a high-tech all-wheel-drive system, the Turbo can lunge to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and hit 100 mph in 8.4 seconds using the standard 6-speed manual transmission. Opt for the 5-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and acceleration times improve to 3.4 and 7.8 seconds. A revised 911 will debut later this year as a 2009 model.