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The manual gearbox. Although it’s not quite dead yet, there’s no doubt that – for a variety of reasons – modern enthusiast vehicles are leaning more and more towards the automatic transmission.
Think about it: Ferrari has ditched the stick altogether, while Mercedes-AMG also no longer offers a manual-equipped model. The list goes on and on. Heck, even the humble Clio RS is these days available exclusively with a dual-clutch ‘box.
So, in a flood of self-shifting transmissions and three-letter initialisms (DSG, DCT, PDK, EDC, etc.) – and a flurry of flappy paddles – we decided to pick out the five most powerful vehicles currently available new with a manual gearbox here in South Africa. Prime your clutch leg, folks…
1. BMW M3/M4 Competition: 331 kW
The most powerful manual-equipped vehicle currently available in SA comes in two basic forms: the M3 sedan and M4 coupe, each fitted with the German brand’s Competition Package. Ticking this rather tempting box takes peak power of BMW’s 3,0-litre turbocharged straight-six from 317 kW to 331 kW (along with a healthy 550 N.m), allowing a claimed sprint from zero to 100 km/h in just 4,2 seconds. Also available in convertible form, should you enjoy picking bugs from your teeth…
2. Aston Martin V8 Vantage S: 321 kW
Second on the list is the V8 Vantage, which makes 321 kW/490 N.m in S guise as well as in N430 form. Power comes from a 4,7-litre naturally aspirated V8, leading to a 0-100 km/h time of 4,8 seconds for the N430 and 4,5 for the Vantage S. Again, roadster versions of each of these vehicles are available (unfortunately, the V12 Vantage S with dog-leg seven-speed manual isn’t currently on offer in SA. If it were, it would lead this list by some way).
3. Porsche 911 Carrera 4S: 309 kW
If you ask Porsche SA nicely enough, rumour has it the company will bring in a manual version of its most powerful Carrera. In 4S form, the 3,0-litre six-cylinder boxer engine is worth 309 kW and 500 N.m, which translates into a 4,2-second dash to three figures. The same output is on offer in the 4S cabriolet, 4S targa, S coupe and S cabriolet. Opt for the Carrera or Carrera 4, and you’ll have 272 kW on tap instead.
4. Ford Mustang 5.0 GT fastback: 306 kW
The cheapest vehicle here at R852 900, the manual-equipped Ford Mustang employs a free-breathing 5,0-litre V8 worth some 306 kW and 530 N.m. The obligatory dash from standstill to 100 km/h takes a claimed 4,8 seconds. Interestingly, the convertible with the same powerplant is available locally only with an automatic transmission.
5. BMW M2: 272 kW
This list started with a BMW and it ends with one, too. The M2 can be had locally with a manual gearbox, which links the rear wheels to a 3,0-litre turbocharged straight-six. In this application, peak outputs come in at 272 kW and 500 N.m, with the claimed 0-100 km/h sprint taking 4,5 seconds. Get shifting!
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