It’s become accepted wisdom that the manual transmission is dying. But the reality is that when it’s made more available, notably in higher trims of a model, fans of the manual gearbox are still present in large numbers. We’re seeing new evidence of this in the case of pre-orders for the upcoming Ford Bronco.
So far, Ford reports that 18 percent of consumers who have reserved a Bronco are opting for a version equipped with the 7-speed manual transmission. Remember, this is actually a six-speed unit, but the seventh gear is designed for the low range.
This adoption rate is impressive, considering that the average is lower across the industry. Even the Jeep Wrangler, which is offered with a manual transmission and has a buyer type that is very open to this type of transmission, sees 10 percent of its buyers opt for the manual. In fact, only cars designed for pure driving, such as the Subaru WRX, Mazda MX-5, Honda Civic Si and Volkswagen GTI, for example, are doing better than the 18-percent ratio we’re seeing to date with the Bronco.
What's even more interesting and revealing about the Bronco is that the manual transmission is only available with the small 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine. About 60 percent of Bronco buyers so far are opting for the larger 2.7L EcoBoost V6. A quick calculation tells us that nearly half of the 2.3L Bronco buyers opt for the manual transmission. Imagine if it were offered with the V6.
Will this trend continue with the Bronco? We'll see, but we should keep in mind that often the early buyers are the most passionate and those who historically go for the more exclusive stuff like a manual transmission. Still, the fact that the percentage is at 18 percent will ensure a continuation for this type of transmission with the Bronco. Will this be enough for Ford to expand the offer? Only time will tell.
At least for now, those who like to play around while driving have something to look forward to.