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(Post Link) post #1 of 38 Old 02-03-19 Thread Starter
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New cars and their autobox settings

I'm sure you have seen this. On new era cars like Mercs, the auto shift lever has moved from the centre console (so as to make room for more cupholders... is this a car, or a kitchen? But anyway...) to the steering column.

The shift pattern goes:

R
N/P< push for the latter
D

No matter which direction of travel you choose (R/D), the physical shift lever stays in the same place (in N/P)

Am I alone in not liking this one bit? Granted, a quick look out of the window will tell you the direction of travel. I'm wondering whether this ambiguous shift lever is better than the old and visually affirmative PRND32 of old?

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Last edited by Scudetto; 02-03-19 at 20:32.
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My BMW (DCT) has the same.

You do get used to it.
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(Post Link) post #3 of 38 Old 02-03-19 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by symon View Post
My BMW (DCT) has the same.

You do get used to it.
I don't doubt it, bud. I just don't like it, Symon. I understand that you get used to it, but if you're in a manual car in first gear, your lever is in first (not N) or if you're in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th, that's where the lever is. In an auto (a configuration that can befuddle a few) I don't think the direction of travel should be micro-switched to it while the lever remains in N/P.

I just think that when it comes to the fundamentals of travel, the lever should always be at the position of intended direction and not in N/P.

I've mentioned before that I spend a lot of time as a passenger in new-era Merc taxis, and I've observed that the drivers are still dithering with this stalk; when parking, setting off and selecting PRDN (and chuck in that anachronism of the foot-operated handbrake that MB still persists with, 60 years after everyone else binned it)

It'll be interesting to see how this autobox gear selection model pans out.
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I honestly didn't have a problem with it, but now you mentioned it it has got me thinking...


It is pretty easy to flick from N to D and vice versa in traffic. This type of box also automatically goes to P when you switch off the engine.

That foot operated parking brake is one reason why I won't even consider buying a Merc. The electric one in the 640d I had last week was ok though, as it was just a switch by the gear selector, and it released automatically as soon as you moved off.
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Don't get in a Case CVT tractor (FCA Product) the Gear controls are on the column and on the arm rest and just have arrows or pictures of hares and tortoises om them
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(Post Link) post #6 of 38 Old 02-03-19 Thread Starter
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Appreciate I'm a bit of a dinosaur here, but...

if you steer left with a car, it steers left
if you steer right with a car, it steers right
if you accelerate, it goes. Brake, and the car stops

gear selection and gear awareness should also be absolute with no ambiguity. Simplicity/comprehension is one of the basic principles of safety.

Millions of folks over decades have grown up with manual 1st gear, 2nd gear, 3rd and so on.

Millions of folks over decades have grown up with a visual PRND. To bin this - with no warning or training - seems a tad dodgy to me.
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Millions of people also grew up with 4 or 5 speeds on their manual gearboxes. Most cars now have at least 6 gears.

Also Automatics in many cases also have a stick to the left postion where you can shift manually or sequentially with flappy paddles on the steering.

Things change or evolve. Often for the better, sometimes for the worse.
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(Post Link) post #8 of 38 Old 02-03-19 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by symon View Post
Millions of people also grew up with 4 or 5 speeds on their manual gearboxes. Most cars now have at least 6 gears.

Things change or evolve. Often for the better, sometimes for the worse.
agree 100%, bud. But the fundamental principles - the grounding - should always be the same, before we zoom off in other untrained directions.

No one should ever get into a car, look at its shift lever and think 'cripes'. It must be intuitive, and I'm not sure the static-placed lever to select R P->N D is all that intuitive.

Because when it comes to the base principles of moving forward or moving backwards, you should not have to ditch soundly established shift patterns to relearn new ones.

As an aside... from a manufacturer's perspective, what's the downer on having a column stalk that adheres to the principles of PRND? They did it for years and years, years ago. You still free up centre console space for coffee cups, and you stick with the auto format most folks are familiar with. Why not go back to a physical mounted column that slots into the well-known PRND notches that you want the car to travel in?

Their brains are bigger than mine, alas
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Last edited by Scudetto; 02-03-19 at 22:28.
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During a test drive I accidentally pressed down on the gear selector stalk when wanting to use the indicator (as I had just been driving a Japanese car.)
I'm also not too fond of the BMW indicators, where they always return to the middle position.
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I'm also not too fond of the BMW indicators, where they always return to the middle position.
This isn't a problem in the UK as BMW drivers here don't use indicators. This might be why.
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During a test drive I accidentally pressed down on the gear selector stalk when wanting to use the indicator (as I had just been driving a Japanese car.).
This worries me too, as my old MB's indicator stalk is where the shift lever is on new MBs. I have a hunch that when driving my friend's auto E-Class, I'm going to bring a new and unexpected dynamic to the art of turning left by accidentally nudging the 'indicator' stalk 'up', to only accelerate and shoot reverse/swerve backwards at speed into someone's front garden.

This won't end well
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I once had to manoeuvre my cousin's little Honda out of my driveway. To this day I've no idea what sort of gearbox it had, some sort of auto or semi-auto, but the (floor mounted) lever's markings made no sense to me whatsoever and she had to tell me what to do with it. Column-mounted gear shifters are popular in the US, as are foot operated parking brakes.
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I'm with Gino on this. A car that you can't just get in and drive without resorting to the owners manual is a badly thought out car. I know we have manual boxes with more gears now but, once the lever moved to the floor, they all work the same way and there is usually a handy diagram. Worst case scenario is you forget 6th and cruise in 5th rather than inadvertently reversing the thing through Tesco's cafe.

As work we have a Citroen pool car which is some sort of eco-****** diesel thing. It's an automatic but it's not a proper automatic it's one of those robotised manual things and it is a truly woeful car. It has flappy paddles but the changes are painfully slow. In full auto, they are just as slow meaning that the thing loses momentum with every upshift. It has stop-start on it and you could time the time it takes for it to start and select a gear from standstill with an egg-timer. It also has an e-brake that doesn't automatically release (so what's the ****ing point?).

This also doesn't have the traditional PRNDL type arrangement. It has something like M/A/R/N (possibly not in that order). A colleague of mine (with lots of experience of driving manuals and autos) was once charged with driving it about 500 yards onto a car park. This she did in a series of massive bunny hops because she didn't realise that with in M as opposed to A, you have to shift yourself using the paddles and if you don't you hit the limiter and it cuts the fuel completely.

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A car that you can't just get in and drive without resorting to the owners manual is a badly thought out car.
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Are you saying you don't like the gear lever settings on the latest Lambo G?
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Are you saying you don't like the gear lever settings on the latest Lambo G?
As I'm not going to buy one, it's unlikely that anyone will lend me one, and it's even more unlikely that we'll get one as a pool car, that doesn't bother me quite so much. I'd expect super/hypercars to have features which are really quite silly.
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All that and you have to worry about driving in on a road.

My car has a handbrake disguised as a foot brake, it catches me out regularly.

The auto box is normal with an “S”, so you can drive it as a sequencial box, not used much.

But this “S” causes much confusion on the Lexus car forum, it has for years with people thinking it’s sports mode. There is an idiot light on the dash that tells you if you select sports mode via a sports mode switch on the dash.

The setup that G mentions would set their brains on fire in the Lexus world.

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I had a Merc hire car with the doodah Scud describes... and it was definitely a ball-ache. Even after two weeks it was clumsy to drive.

I would avoid buying anything with such crappiness in it. I appreciate "technology" changes over time and it's important not to become an accidental Luddite.. but in the old days technology evolved when something better (or hopefully better) came along. These days "technology" is a Trojan Horse for some new gizmo that might be absolute ****e, but it just happens to be cheaper to manufacture.


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I've got the Merc setup G talks about. Once you are used to it it's great. It's only the same as any other control being in a different place. For instance the wash wipe on the Merc is a button you push in on the end of the left hand stalk. This is exactly the same as the horn on my Range Rover...

To balance out the wash wipe, the button on the end of the right hand stalk engages the parking brake. This too can cause some interesting moments until you are used to it.

Whilst this setup obviously causes the traditionalists some angst, it does mean I have more storage space in the centre console than I did in the whole of my Brera, including the boot.
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I remember when this was a field of 156s.
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Whilst we are onto technology, can someone please explain to me what exactly is wrong with a traditional hand brake?

Foot operated parking brakes are a PITA (looking at you Mercedes) and electric handbrakes are a pointless complexity that can help you on hill starts if you are a bad driver.
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Quote:
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Foot operated parking brakes are a PITA (looking at you Mercedes) and electric handbrakes are a pointless complexity that can help you on hill starts if you are a bad driver.
Both of these work well with automatics. Less so with manual gearboxes.

I agree electric handbrakes have added another level of complexity to something that was simple, but when they are working they are easy to use and free up quite a bit of cabin space.

On the new Mercs for instance you never actually use the parking brake. Turn the engine off and the parking brake goes on. Put it in drive and move away and it goes off.

If the battery goes flat you are FUBAR.
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Got this in mine. Don't see the issue with it at all.
Cars are going to get vastly different, so change you are going to have to get used to if you buy new.

I did find out the other day if I leave my foot on the brake pedal as I stop the engine once the key comes out it goes to Park by itself.

What did annoy me mildly because I'm old and stupid, is the half assed entry. It is not keyless entry but it [was] keyless start whereby you enter the car and just press a start button, however because I'm stupid I would put my keys somewhere in the car and then at my journey end get out and forget them. Obviously almost straight away I would realise I haven't got the keys to lock it. Then I would have to route around the cabin/floor for them

I found out from a techy I can remove the start button. Bingo a slot for my key

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Statements above are all my own opinion and not fact.
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Not a problem if you drive a car with a proper man gearbox.
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I might also add that the Americans had column shift wayyy back. Possibly an American market idea.

First ever dumb **** emergency foot brake (as oppose to handbrake) I ever had the misfortune to come across was in a Ford Taunus or some Granada like thing in 1988 in the good 'ole USA. One thing I disliked about my CLK.

Hand foot brake's are crap.
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Quote:
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Not a problem if you drive a car with a proper man gearbox.
I still prefer a manual box over any Auto/dual clutch which I have driven.

The 8 speed ZF in the 640d was good. The DCT in my 335 is great, but neither give the same level of driver involvement as a traditional manual.
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