Automakers are continuing to give us a peek at the popularity, or lack thereof, of the manual transmission. Our latest information comes from Subaru, which kindly shared its manual transmission take-rate numbers for 2018. One of the most interesting tidbits was that 78% of Subaru BRZs sold had a manual. What makes that so curious is its stark contrast to its twin, the Toyota 86, where only 33% of those sold in 2018 had a manual. On top of that, the BRZ has a stronger manual take-rate than the enthusiast darling Mazda Miata; the soft top had 76% of buyers going for a stick, and the RF had 52%. If we had to speculate, it seems the Subaru BRZ is attracting the hardcore sports car fans.
Although the BRZ manual sales are strong, it isn’t the model that sells the most. The Subaru WRX tops it with 90% of buyers picking the manual over the CVT option. We of course suspect that plenty of regular WRX buyers are opting for the manual, though the number is likely partly boosted by the fact the STI version is only available with a manual.
Things aren’t quite as rosy with Subaru’s more mainstream offerings, but that’s to be expected. The Impreza follows the BRZ with 8% of Imprezas selling with a manual. The Crosstrek comes in second-to-last at 6%, and the Forester comes in last at 3%. And the Forester has now dropped the manual transmission.
One final interesting note to Subaru’s manual take rate. Subaru told us it sold over 47,000 manual-equipped cars. That’s roughly 2,000 more than Honda sold in the same year. And with Subaru’s total sales numbers being less than Honda, that means the percentage of total sales that were manual is larger at 7% versus 2.6% for Honda.