Automatic For The People?

Automatic For The People?

The current Mrs Grimley has decided that schlepping around in our elderly Nissan Primera is not befitting a woman of her status. When pressed on the subject, she couldn’t make a full and frank description of what exactly this status was, but one thing she was absolutely certain about was that it demanded that use of a Subaru Impreza. A silver one. With a turbocharger.

Being the man in the relationship I was informed that my duty was not to dispute this, but instead release my inner automotive Sherlock Holmes and seek out her dream wheels. And after several evenings of searching, I proudly summoned her into my den and presented a computer screen containing a gleaming example of glorious WRX-ness. It was silver, came with a blower the size of a fat child and in every way met the criteria laid out to me. But instead of skipping around the room, she looked rather crestfallen.



“It does look nice, but I wanted an automatic.”

With great restraint I pointed out that an integral part of the performance car experience is performing your own gear changes. Immersing yourself in the process of ensuring ratios are expertly switched to exactly suit the prevailing conditions helped turn driving from just another activity into a holistic mechanical experience. Why, oh why, would she want to deny herself this joy?

“Well it’s just easier, isn’t it? I’d have to think too much with a manual.”

People have recently been cheering to the rooftops about the raising of the minimum age to hold a driving license, but for the life of me I can’t see why. I know of five year olds whose intelligence would be insulted by driving a modern automatic. In fact I suspect my friend’s dog – and we are talking about an animal which can be confounded by its own shadow – would make a reasonable fist of it.

And trust me, if Ash the moronic Labrador could have a go, then driving a car has become a task that most sane people will find rather easy. And that’s a bad thing.

Driving is not a task that should be over simplified. Every person on the roads of New Zealand is in command of a tonne and a half of killing machine and this is a responsibility that should be given maximum attention at all times. Yet on my daily commute I’m forced to bear witness to countless morons utilising a free hand for such distractions as telephone calls, eating and applying make-up. Having to interrupt their alternative schedule to change cogs from time to time may just jog a few memories into remembering what they should actually be doing.


Begrudgingly, I do acknowledge that it may be a smidge impractical to force the nation to collectively ditch their slushboxes; however, it certainly isn’t out of the realms of possibility to ensure everyone at least has the awareness of driving as nature intended. With that in mind it’s high time that – disabilities excepting – the law was changed to ensure that all full licenses are completed in a manual car.

Let’s face it; if you are incapable of performing the relatively simple task of operating a gearbox whilst driving, there is absolutely no way you possess the necessary levels of co-ordination and multi-tasking ability to make you a safe road user. Therefore it’s time to either get back to driving school or sell your car and get on a bus.

On the plus side, if the car in question happens to be a silver Impreza WRX, I may already have you a buyer.

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