Aston Martin, Once a Stick Shift Defender, Gives Up on the Manual Transmission

The British automaker once predicted it would be the last in the world to offer manual sports cars

A green and yellow Aston Martin Vantage AMR speeding around a track
The Aston Martin Vantage AMR is an ode to the manual transmission, but it won't be around for long.
Aston Martin Lagonda

I’ve got plenty of opinions on James Bond that aren’t exactly what you’d call mainstream, but I hope you’ll agree that one of the main reasons the Aston Martin DB10 car chase in Spectre is so thrilling — along with just about every other Aston chase in the franchise — is the fact that 007 is doing it all with a manual transmission. 

There’s something about manually shifting gears while donning an impeccably tailored suit that just fits with Bond, and with the legendary British marque. In fact, despite the slow death of the stick shift that’s currently hemorrhaging automakers left and right, in 2019 Andy Palmer, Aston Martin’s then CEO, told Australia’s Carsales, “I’ve already made a commitment that I want to be the last manufacturer in the world to offer manual sports cars and I want to honour that commitment.” 

It wasn’t long after that declaration that Aston Martin’s financial situation became clear: profits were way down, a Canadian billionaire stepped in to keep them afloat, and Palmer was out. Now, as new CEO Tobias Moers told the same outlet where Palmer touted the manual, Aston will soon phase out the stick shift in its cars completely.

“We did a few assessments about that car [manual] — you don’t need it anymore,” Moers said in a roundtable interview, according to Carsales. “And you have to maintain it with the new regulations, year-by-year with the emissions because it’s a bespoke powertrain. It makes no sense.”

The final new model to feature the three-pedal setup will reportedly be the Aston Martin Vantage, the AMR version of which we tested back in 2019 and called “the most entertaining machine in the automaker’s line for one simple feature: that stick shift on the floor.”

The end of the manual transmission era at Aston isn’t altogether unexpected, despite their previous remarks. Like just about every other automaker, they’re simultaneously focusing on electrification (to cut down on climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions) and SUVS (to boost profits), and neither of those are conducive to new stick shifts. 

It’s like our car correspondent Benjamin Hunting wrote last year, “It won’t be flashy sports cars that carry the [manual] banner proudly into the sunset, but rather the more practical and significantly less exciting basic transportation for both people and goods.”

But take heart, three-pedal diehards, there are plenty of used vehicles to go around now that no one can drive them anymore, and when those crap out, you can always turn on a Bond flick.

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