Match 'box enthusiast: Tell Me I'm Wrong

All manual gearboxes should come with automatic rev-matching.

Before bellies begin to ache, though, I should declare one essential caveat: you must be able to deactivate said rev-matching at the touch of a button. And I do mean one touch of one button. No drilling-down via touchscreen menus, no convoluted confluence of drive and traction modes - just a button to switch it on or off, just like in the Sport Pack-equipped Nissan 370Z that brought the function to market with its Synchro Rev Match system in 2009.

Porsche makes it hard - it shouldn't be!
Porsche makes it hard - it shouldn't be!
Yes, heel-and-toeing is a simple but eternal joy - even in the most lethargic of front-drive hatchbacks, where it serves no purpose other than to entertain the driver. But even if you're an exponent of the ankle-bending ritual and your car's pedals are appropriately spaced, it's not always appropriate or, indeed, possible. In most cases, you need to be braking fairly hard before the throttle pedal is within tickling range, and unless you're on an open, empty road - which, on the balance of probability, you aren't - that level of brake-squishing is pretty unlikely. So for the rest of the time, why not let the car flawlessly smooth your transition from one gear to the next, and save a little drivetrain wear in the process?

If you were buying a used manual BMW M2 or Sport Chrono-equipped Porsche 991 or 718 from a seller short on mechanical sympathy, surely you'd be glad of the clutch-pampering properties of their respective rev-matching setups?

To date, such systems have been confined to more performance-orientated cars, but it needn't be so. It's a software-based addition, and much simpler and therefore cheaper than the safety and autonomous tech that trickles down the market with each passing day. That you can buy a £16,200 Mini Cooper with rev-matching speaks of its affordability.

Nissan system one of the oldest but still the best
Nissan system one of the oldest but still the best
Indeed, the most populous beneficiaries would be indifferent A-to-B drivers, who'll suddenly find their regular manual hatchback, crossover or SUV easier and more user-friendly to drive while avoiding the expense of an automatic. Their car's parts will last longer, and their passengers will be happier, too, saved from the nodding-dog indignities of their host's misjudged shifts. Owners might even save a little fuel from smoother driving.

Automated manual city cars such as the Toyota Aygo x-shift or ASG-equipped VW Up aren't popular because of their added expense and awkward mannerisms. But furnish those cars' conventional manual gearboxes with rev matching, and you've taken away some of the apprehension of buying a manual at a fraction of the complexity and cost of an auto. You could easily argue a rev-matching manual would actually provide a smoother drive than one of those clutch-actuating jobs too.

Rev-matching manuals should be the new normal, then. And in the process, they'll win back market share from autos, thereby prolonging the career of the manual gearbox that we know and love.


[Words: Richard Webber]

Comments (42) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Ekona 28 Oct 2017

    No issue with rev-matching 'boxes at all, just so long as there's an option to turn it off.

  • ghiblicup 28 Oct 2017

    It's all the sport button does on the GT4

  • sidekickdmr 28 Oct 2017

    I had a 370z with it and its a great feature, like you say it should be commonplace in sports cars

  • grumpy52 28 Oct 2017

    Many of us older drivers mastered the art of driving without a clutch , usually due to slave cylinder or cable failure. Achieved by matching revs to road speed , also a skill needed when using Hewland race gearboxes to avoid grinding cogs .
    Ruined by more and more intrusive synchromeshes on modern boxes .
    More dumbing down of driving skills ?

  • Porsche911R 28 Oct 2017

    I like the option, again as long as there is an off switch.

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