Aside from the Prancing Horse emblem, the clearly defined open-gate gearbox with the chromed lever sprouting from within was Ferrari’s second best distinguishable characteristic.
With the introduction of the 2012 MY California, this tradition comes to an end, at least in the UK. From now on, Ferrari is offering its British customers only one choice in the transmission department: that of an automatic.
Ferrari’s decision is understandable. In the entire UK, there is only one California with a manual transmission; everyone else (260 in 2010) opted for the twin-clutch auto.
This is becoming a commonplace practice on all Ferrari models, not only the California: for example, after five years in production, how many 599s do you think were sold with a classic manual gearbox?
The answer is zero; zip; nada; not a single car! Each and every one of Ferrari’s V12-engined supercar ordered in Britain came with the semi-automatic gearbox .
People who grew up with posters of 250 GTOs, F40s and 355s in their bedrooms may lament the loss of the classic manual gearbox. However, this is progress and for better or for worse, some things eventually become extinct.
Ferrari isn’t the only supercar maker selling almost exclusively automatic transmission-equipped cars. Porsche’s PDK has been a huge hit since 2008 when it was introduced in the revamped 997. The manual gearbox has been rendered obsolete in this class for four basic reasons.
First, it is much easier to use, requiring no special driving skills in executing the perfect gear change. Second, no human, no matter how fast reflexes he or she possesses, can match the speed of a dual-clutch gear change. Third, it allows manufacturers to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 figures by adding seven or even more speeds.
Last, but not least, consider the following: if you were buying a Rosso Corsa (or any color for that) 458 Italia and sat behind the wheel, wouldn’t you like to change gears through the paddle shifts, hear that spine-tingling automated V8 blip and even program their speed through a little red rotary knob, like Senior Fernando Alonso does?
P.S.: Believe it or not, we had a hard time finding a pic of a manual gearbox in Ferrari’s own website…
Story References: Car Magazine