The shift away from manuals is because car makers have been building automatic transmissions that can shift faster than a human…not the auto in the Ford Focus ST.

Arriving in Australia recently, the Ford Focus ST is one of those rare performance vehicles that’s available with both an automatic and a manual transmission. And we thank Ford for keeping the manual dream alive.

Now, the reason so many car makers drop an automatic into a supercar or even a garden-variety performance car is because these things can shift way faster than you and I. Well, not if you’re driving a Focus ST. Or a Mazda MX-5 or Toyota 86.

Yep, those three vehicles are a rare trio that are actually faster in manual form than when the thing is left to change gears itself. Let’s take a look at the Focus ST because that’s the newest and the one that’s parked outside my house this week.

With a six-speed manual the Focus ST will get from rest to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds but with the six-speed automatic it’ll take three-tenths of a second longer. Yeah, sure, that’s bugger all but it’s worth mentioning because it’s not the norm.

But, that’s in a straight line…personally and, don’t worry, I’m hating myself too as I say it, the Focus ST with automatic and flappy paddles is still incredibly quick. And I’d suggest that on an undulating and twisting stretch of road it’ll be a step or two quicker than the manual…maybe. I’ll let you know after I’ve driven the manual next week. Stay tuned.

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