Critical Section

in praise of paddle shifting

Tuesday,  02/24/09  11:34 PM

pines to palms highway, aerial viewToday in the late afternoon I had a chance to drive from Vista to Palm Desert on wonderful California Route 74 (aka Pines to Palms Highway).  This beautiful road winds its way through the mountains, and ends up descending in a series of spectacular switchbacks from the mountains down into the desert.  You've probable seen this amazing road in any number of car commercials and movie chase scenes.

paddle shifting: the only way to go...
going down?

So as I'm driving this road - loving it - the true logic of paddle shifting a manual transmission became clear :)

When you see a car with paddles you might think it's sort of pretentious; oh look, someone wants to pretend they're in a race car.  And why have a manual transmission when automatics are so much smoother?

Well, with paddles, you don't have to take your hands off the wheel (and in a series of hairpin turns, you don't want to).  And with a manual transmission, you don't have to brake, you just downshift and the engine does it for you.  Your feet and hands stay in one position, and you have full control over the car.  Flick your fingers, and poof you're in a higher gear, accelerating out of a turn.  Flick again, and poof you downshift and engine brake into the next one.  Flick out, flick in.  Swish swish vroom vroom.  It just works.

You might have to get on a winding descent to appreciate it, but it sure makes sense :)

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