• Dec 1, 2009
When it isn't unusual to get into five or six different cars a month, you realize you spend a lot of time figuring out how, and how many ways, one can shift the gears in an automatic or double-clutch car. Where is the shifter? How many settings does the shifter have? How do I get into manual shift mode? Once there, how does it work? Are there paddle shifters as well? Do the paddle shifters move with the wheel or not? And so on...

Road & Track surveyed a number of automakers about how they set up their manual shifting modes. Some require you to push the lever forward to upshift, while for others that's a downshift, and a couple demand you move the lever side-to-side. The 13 makers examined all have their reasons, the loose consensus being that the forward-for-downshift bunch is modeled after driving dynamics, the forward-for-upshift bunch based on intuitiveness and customer feedback.

At least two makers have two cars that use different shifting methods. And if not for Subaru, Audi, and Porsche there'd be a nice way to classify the forward-for-upshift crowd as being for buyers who aren't into sporting driving. As far as we're concerned, forward should be for downshifts, and single-function paddles should be mounted on the wheel, not the column. But you can tell us what you think in the comments.

[Source: Road & Track]


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  • 65 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I shift with my mind.
      • 5 Years Ago
      And paddle shifters aren't for daily driving. They're for the track. So you dont need to take your hands off the wheel.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't understand your point and AB's point.

        Any racing vehicle has its paddles on the column, it's only the cheapo immitations like in the Fit and countless other cars that had them on the wheel and this has always been faced with criticism, it's the first time I actually hear praise for them (on AB's side).

        I don't know, paddles/buttons turning with the wheel to me means playing hide and seek with them and possibly contortions, I'd have to try but I've had sufficient experience with my steering-mounted controls to know that when you're turning it's anything but handy... But maybe that's just the way it's laid out.
        Julian
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you think about it, it's harder to shift with them on the column while you're in a maneuver like turning....you basically have to let go of the wheel, move your hand, shift and then go back to the wheel.

        Which is why it was moved it from the center console to the wheel in the first place.

        If the paddles go with then you can just flip the button without ever leaving the wheel..much better for precision dynamic control.

        Watch an in cockpit F1 video sometime and you'll see that the hands almost never leave the same spot on the wheel.

        and while i'm at it....

        FWD for downshifts, back for upshifts. The drag racer in me requires it.


      • 5 Years Ago
      Flappy paddles are for posers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Personal opinion, paddles should be on the column and you should pull back to upshift and push forward to downshift.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Rally cars have it right: a complete ring instead of paddles.

      Also, coming from driving a stick, forward for downshift is just natural.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As the up and downshift features are electronic switches these days, the driver should be able to configure which direction is for upshift, and which is for downshift.

      Furthermore, paddles should be of a detatchable design, with sockets on both the wheel and column, so that the driver can choose which one to use.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "forward-for-upshift bunch based on intuitiveness and customer feedback."

      To all the people who've been arguing otherwise with me for the past two years:

      TOLD.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "As far as we're concerned, forward should be for downshifts, and single-function paddles should be mounted on the wheel, not the column."

        I literally just had this conversation with my wife about her CC V6 4Mo, I thought pulling back should be an upshift because it more simulates the feeling of putting it in a "final drive."

        ...top of the morning to you AB!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why don't let the driver select which way he wants to down/up- shift in a particular car?

        Personally, FWD for an upshift feels more intuitive (e.g. the first gear in a manual car is usually forward, the 5th -- backward). The other way around makes more sense in terms of the "g-forces", but not as intuitive. I don't think the argument of the g-forces is important though, since racing drivers were able to shift the manual transmissions back and forth in H-pattern for many years.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Mark out west.


        I'm pretty sure in the aeronautical field... pushing the flight control stick forward makes you go down... not up.

        I just hate when soccer moms and lane hogs are the people that automotive focus groups listen to. Like when OEM's put + & - buttons on both sides of the wheel for gear changes (stupid).

        And Paddles should go on the column. B/c your hands don't stay on the same point of the wheel the whole time your driving. When they are on the column, you can hit a upshift or downshift a lot easier while moving through the rack, but thats my personal comfort opinion.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Most video game racers always had down/back for downshift and forward/up for upshift so I'm not sure if the video game argument proves Porsche wrong.
        And while the g-forces may go one way or the other you're not supposed to accidentally shift anyway.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Mark out West:
        The airplane throttle is analogous to the throttle pedal in the car, not the shifter. I think your argument fails.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's physics, in particular the G force felt by the driver, that dictate the correct shift movement. While accelerating the driver is pulled back so the easiest movement to do while accelating/upshifting is pulling. Conversely, while breaking (before a corner or just for engine braking) the driver is pushed forward so the easiest movement for him on braking/downshifting is pushing. Conclusion is: pull for upshift, push for downshift.

        DSG for instance, a gearbox marketed as sporty, is nothing like that in actual use. Beside the fact that the shift lever movement is backwards, the paddle shifters are behind the wheel, instead of the steering column. This prevents any satisfaction on sportier driving.

        Manufacturers should stop reinventing the wheel. If they feel that the customers are too dumb to learn proper shifting, they should at least give the option of reversing the shift lever movement, with a button near it. Problem solved.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ehm, you do know what acceleration does to your body right? The G-forces? The obvius and most logical choice would be that as you accelerate (and have to change gear to a higher one) you simply have to use the force. Use the force Luke!
        • 5 Years Ago
        And considering manumatic mode if for posers who simply want to feel in control, it's perfectly adequate. There's nothing intuitive about the upward downshift downward upshift layout unless you're familiar with a manual, and even then I don't quite get it - the fact of the matter is that if you want the most people to understand your layout, the former is the way to go.

        As for paddle shifters, anything that moves with the steering wheel is worthless.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh yeah I forgot Neff's argument for the manual-type layout, knowing you'll be 'kicked back' you pull the stick. I didn't get what they meant by driving dynamics at first there, but now I understand.

        ... Wait so, basically we didn't learn anything from this investigation, R&T just gave our existing knowledge some scientific value. Hahahaha wow.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Let's make this real simple(r):

        UP for UPshift
        DOWN for DOWNshift

        Why is fore/aft the paradigm?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Using your logic, airplane throttle quadrants would be push forward to slow down, pull back to accelerate.

        Dumb.

        Thanks, but I'll stick with the aviation human factors guys on this one - forward = faster/higher/up, backward = slower/lower/down.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Let's make this real simple:

        FORWARD = DOWNSHIFT
        BACKWARD = UPSHIFT

        Arms go backward when you accelerate, arms go forward when you brake. SIMPLE AS THAT.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Matt: Quite the opposite, I played too much, this is why I learn towards the intuitive layout.

        However, my mouse is reversed in any FPS.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Forward for downshifts....Paddle shifters on the column...it's so annoying to have them moving all over the place when you turn the wheel
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, in any true "spirited" driving, your hands should remain at 9 & 3 on the wheel. And so should the shift paddles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not that I could see using these novelty gearboxes for spirited driving, but real drivers use shuffle steering. If the paddles are on the wheel, you have no idea what's up or down mid corner.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Driving my old man's BMW, I always believed that its up-to-upshift setup was the way to go. Until I started driving a manual car of my own, that is — now I feel that up should downshift. It really is closer to an actual stick.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A vote here for 'forward for downshifts'. When you brake the weight transfers FORWARD.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Shifting in a manumatic needs to follow acceleration, and emulate a manual gearbox. Pull back to shift up - it feels like shifting from first to second. Like someone else said, you can't replicate pushing the manumatic stick over and then forwards to get the second-third upshift, so you may as well make it follow the force the car is putting on you.

      Anyway. Everyone is saying "up to upshift". It's not up. You're voting for *forwards* to upshift. How much do you want to bet there are more people who don't like/haven't driven manuals in this category than in the "back to upshift" group?

      And yes, flappy paddles need to be fixed to the steering column, relatively large so they're easy to get when not driving perfectly straight, and right paddle shifts up.

      To sum up, MY VOTE: push FORWARD to DOWNSHIFT, paddles ATTACHED TO STEERING COLUMN.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think of sequential manuals when I think of a forward / backward shifter.
      I think of Gran Turismo or Forza. I think of watching WRC, with guys and their huge shifters.

      When the weight of the car is transferred forward,

      UNDER HEAVY BRAKING, WHERE A LOWER GEAR IS PREFERABLE,

      the body's natural tendency is, too, to shift forward. Forward = downshift.
      When under acceleration, heavy acceleration, think "planted in the seat." Back for higher gear. Forward for lower gear.

      How is this confusing? it's all about weight transfer and center of gravity. Go sit in a red wagon and let someone pull you around. Acceleration plants you at the back of the wagon. YOU SHIFT BACK. When you slow down, YOU SHIFT FORWARD.

      How has this racked up 5 pages of comments? This is so simple.
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