Heel toe shifting dying art

Heel-Toe Shifting Becoming a Lost Art in Automotive Culture

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Heel toe shifting dying art

Heel-toe shifting is a method by which a driver uses their right foot to simultaneously brake a vehicle and also rev the engine.  You already knew that or you would not have clicked on this story.  Sadly, the skill is going to fade away.

Surprisingly, it is not the shift away form manual transmissions that will finally kill off the art of heel-toe shifting.  That alone might have been enough.  Rather, it will be great new cars with automatic rev-matching for downshifts.  Our managing editor is one of those that tried this new type of transmission in the 2014 Corvette Stingray and loved it.  You can also get a rev-matching manual in a Porsche, a Nissan, and many other brands that make sports cars.  Other automakers, like Ferrari, are just giving up on manuals altogether.

The video above explains how the new Corvette system mimics heel-toe shifting for the driver.  The video below is semi-pro drier Gary Sheehan at the wheel of a race-prepped Subaru WRX.  Sheehan taught himself to drive this way in a Hyundai Excel in the late 1980s.  He later moved on to a Toyota MR2.  You will not find a better example of heel-toe shifting.  If you watch closely you will also see him double-clutch at times to better align the transmissions inner workings.

The reason the manual transmission is endangered is that it does not one single thing well anymore.  Take the 2015 Mazda3 as an example.  It can come either with or without a manual paired with its larger, 2.5-liter engine.  This is a car that you would have to be completely devoid of a soul not to call fun.  The stick makes the car more fun, sometimes.  Unless there is traffic.  Or you lend it you a friend who can’t drive a stick, and they strip all your synchros.  Despite its fun, the Mazda3 is first and foremost a fuel efficient car.  The stick ruins that.  Chose the stick over the 6-speed automatic and the fuel economy drops by 10%.

Manuals are slower too.  We can pretend otherwise, but the numbers don’t lie.  Can you drive heel-toe?  If so, consider teaching a person younger than yourself.  Then again, maybe not.  If you own a manual car, why risk the transmission?

John Goreham

John Goreham

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