Re: Selespeed, is it rubbish?
From the age of 17 I had driven nothing but manual sports cars (mostly 6 speeds like the M3 or Impreza Sti my whole life, but then about 3 years ago I moved to a part of Tokyo where my daily commute suddenly changed to having to face nighmarish traffic jams.
Sold the Sti and got a used BMW 328 with an automatic transmission - although the engine and handling aspects of the car were superb, I was BORED TO DEATH by the automatic transmission and immediately began looking for clutchless manual sports cars. I couldn't swing an M3 SMG, and had always loved my wife's 156 SW (except for the "Q system" transmission), so I immediately began to check out the GTA Selespeeds.
Our old dealer let me take out a used 147 GTA Selespeed for about a 30 minute test drive, and I was so surprised, delighted and impressed by it that I almost signed the papers for a new one the moment I got out of the car! The icing on the cake was the price - a new 147 GTA with leather, Xenons, Bose and DVD Navigation only set me back about 4 mllion yen (1.5 million less than the 156 GTA, and about the same price as a standard BW 120 !!!!).
The Selespeed (at least in the GTA) does everything I want (and then some!). The downshifts are perfectly and astonishingly quickly done, with the perfect amount of throttle blip (better than my heel & toe technique on even my best days!), and you can downshift into first even at high rpms (unlike the pushbutton automatic trannies favored by the vast majority of other car makers). The upshifts are smooth and quick too, and the system works so perfectly even in heavy traffic that I haven't used the city mode (automatic shifting) in over a year.
I can also say that as a result of having to spend less time and mental energy thinking about how to get those perfect shifts during hard driving, I have been able to spend a lot more time focusing on other aspects of technical driving (weigh transfer, braking technique, etc) and my whole driving technique seems to have gone up a level or two. In short, the GTA Selespeed is an absolute delight to drive, and makes me look like a hero to boot! (So yes, in a sense it is fulfilling an F1 fantasy!).