Best Race Car Gear – While it may seem like manual transmissions are on the way out from new cars, there are still plenty of good options out there. Here are some of the best.
For its latest generation 911, Porsche has retained the gear knob for the Carrera T, Carrera S, Targa 4S, GT3 and Sport Classic trims. The third pedal is a free option that makes the car slower in a straight line, but more fun.
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The CT5-V Blackwing is the best departure in GM’s line of small-block V-8 supercars. An excellent chassis combined with over 650 supercharged horses and a six-speed transmission make it one of the best sedans on the planet.
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Porsche’s mid-engine sports car may not have enough power to keep up with the big 911, but its superior dynamics mean it drives just as well, if not better. We’re big fans of the high-powered GT4 model with the GT3’s 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine.
The 718 Boxster is mechanically identical to the Cayman except for the lack of a roof. This means all the excellent handling characteristics, the choice of a six-cylinder engine and a manual gearbox.
Don’t want to join the Porsche crowd? Lotus has a perfect alternative: Emira. Opt for Toyota’s 3.5-liter V-6, and it can be paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Just add a winding road and you are guaranteed to have a good time.
What? What list of new sports cars would be complete without the best of them all, the Miata? Designed specifically for driver comfort, the Miata’s six-speed transmission is a pleasure to use and more engaging than the optional torque converter system.
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The Civic Type R is the best crossover on the market right now. Much of that is down to its incredible handling and six-speed manual gearbox – perhaps the best-feeling gearshift out of the GT3.
The GR86 is one of the most comfortable new cars at any price. Part of that beauty comes from the excellent six-speed transmission mounted between the two front seats.
The BRZ is basically the GR86 on the ground with a slightly different fascia and different suspension setup. We prefer the 86 for cornering, but the BRZ is still a great car.
Although it doesn’t have the same V-8 as its big brother, the CT5, under its neck, the CT4-V Blackwing is still a very big car. GM has improved the chassis tuning and Magnetic Ride suspension to create a four-door sports car that rides better than any new M3.
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Fortunately, BMW still offers its smallest M car, the lovely M2, with a six-speed manual gearbox. While we haven’t driven the steering wheel yet, we’re sure it’s a better option than the available eight-speed automatic.
While it’s not the GR Yaris we all hoped for, the GR Corolla is still a rally-inspired crossover. Most of our praise comes from the standard six-speed transmission that sends power to all four wheels.
In many ways, the Elantra N handles better than its hatchback, the Veloster N. It has less horsepower and a longer wheelbase. The clutch action may not be perfect, but the six-speed manual transmission’s shifter is excellent.
You can get any Camaro with a manual transmission, but we don’t have a part for the ZL1 1LE. It combines the Corvette Z06’s 650-horsepower C7 V-8 with a six-speed manual transmission, multiple air scoops and advanced suspension components. This is the best car tune GM has ever made.
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Fortunately, Ford has decided to keep the six-speed manual transmission as an option for the 2024 Mustang, though it’s no longer available on the base EcoBoost trim. If you want three pedals, you’ll need to get a V-8 model like the GT or Dark Horse. But we were going to do it anyway.
The long-awaited rival to the Ford Wrangler is an off-road beast with a cool retro style and a removable roof. Choose the smaller four-cylinder engine, and you can also get a six-speed manual transmission with a seventh “track” gear.
When the revived Supra first went on sale, it was only available with an eight-speed automatic transmission. For years, lovers have been fighting, wishing Toyota to add another pedal. The company finally pulled the plug in 2022, giving buyers a manual option for the 2023 model year.
Don’t want to spend nearly $45k on a Civic Type R? We didn’t blame you. Honda also makes a good Civic Si, based on the regular Civic sedan. Its 1.5-liter turbo-4 is mated to a super-oily six-speed gearbox that we love.
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Subaru doesn’t make STDs anymore, but at least there’s still a WRX. A staple for snow enthusiasts, this is the ultimate all-wheel drive vehicle.
In the GTI, you can choose between automatic and manual DSG. While you’ll certainly get good lap times with a dual clutch, the GTI can’t do without a third pedal.
Brian Silvestro is Hearst Autos’ senior associate editor for ratings content. He has been a staff writer for Road & Track magazine for over seven years, and continues to write regular car reviews, industry interviews and more. He also has a taste for high-mileage rust projects and amateur endurance racing.
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Choosing a differential ratio for your race car is a difficult task. If your race car (and/or series) allows you to use a different ratio, then this can significantly affect the performance of your race car.
How do you choose How do you choose the difference ratio to use for maximum acceleration on a particular track?
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In fact, if you ask, your resident cup pen will give you a definite answer:
With all the gear options available to you, you want to know you’ve chosen the best gear configuration.
If you can only change the differential ratio, then you want to make sure you choose the best differential for your race car (and for the specific track you drive on).
Method 1 – If you are interested in math, most of it is covered in these two previous posts:
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Method 2 – If you are more interested in the concept and what goes into the solution, click to watch the video I put together (above or) here: https://youtu.be/OH10et2k7lA
This is available at a 25% discount for our blog subscribers. Check out the rest of the site. If you like what you see and you like the spreadsheet, subscribe below for instant access to it – and a whole host of other FREE motorsports stuff.
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