Never one to shy away from controversy, Clarkson's latest tirade was published in The Daily Sun's Motors section, and sees The Orangutan compare willing manual drivers to people "who choose not to have a washing machine because they prefer to clean their clothes in the local river." Ouch. Although we disagree with the sentiment – because manuals are awesome – Clarkson does go on to make some good points.
Automatics have largely lost their bad reputations by offering up shift speeds no human could hope to match and ending up level (or occasionally better) on the fuel-economy front. Autos, and dual-clutch transmissions in particular, are so good that some of the world's premiere performance brands have outright abandoned them. Ferrari hasn't sold a manual trans in years. Ditto with Lamborghini. And the Porsche 911 GT3, long a benchmark for driving purity, ditched its manual for its latest generation. Even on lower-end performance cars, automatics are the go-to option for outright performance (hello Volkswagen GTI).
Now, it is worth noting that Clarkson does recognize the value of a manual in the right conditions, calling it "sublime" and noting that a perfect upshift at redline "makes me go all tingly." He just doesn't see the point when trundling around the middle of England.
Sorry Jezza, normally we'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong. You can read the entire rant on The Sun's website.