I've spent about 3 months with the Roadster (R59) now. Still can't stop thinking what a great car this is. I'm really enjoying it for commuting duties, running around town and even on the twisties. Just about the only thing that I am still slowing coming to grips with is the automatic transmission. While I am digging it, I find myself yearning for a clutch and 6 proper gears when I'm not stuck in my hellish commute. That said, I'm still finding my way around the transmission, mostly thanks to tips from you guys! Here are some of the things that I have noticed.

It’s like 3 transmissions in 1

When I'm stuck in my commute, it's almost like a CVT. I can barely feel it shift, up or down. This might be me drifting off after work or mentally preparing for my day, but I'm not feeling it shift. In sport mode (lever to the left), it's like a proper transmission, complete with surges, shifts (up and down), but without having to use the clutch. In Manual mode (left left and shifting) it's um, different. While not the same as actually shifting, it does seem to really hold the gear until a shift is performed (or red line is reached). When it shifts, they feel like I did it with a manual transmission.


I'm used to down shifting into 2nd, releasing the clutch at the start of a turn so that I can power through the turn, even at slow speeds. This transmission doesn't do that unless you in manual mode, and even then, not really. The amount of delay in moving from the time the throttle is pressed until the transmission engages is something that I am still getting used to.


As I mentioned above, the amount of delay in moving is weird. Right foot down, count to 2 and then go. I'm not sure I will ever get used to this.


I've had the chance to drive the R59 in JCW trim, and in normal S trim, both with manual transmissions. In mine, I can get the yummy popping and cool exhaust sounds only when the sport button is pressed and the lever is moved left. In the manual cars, I remember is always being there. See my first point about it's almost like a CVT.

Overdrive has Overdrive

In manual mode, with or without the sport button pressed, I can be in 6th on the freeway and move the lever right. When I do that, it appears to drop into an even higher gear. I know it's not, just some software trickery, but it feels almost like going into overdrive. RPMs drop and everything.

I'm not complaining at all. I purposely looked for a car that had an automatic transmission (it was the 2nd check box after HK) because of my commute and the fact that Phoenix doesn't know how to run proper signals (they are all always red). Having an automatic has improved my daily driving but I'm still left wanting to have a clutch again, if only for 20 minutes per week.

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  1. DB: I’m wondering if the rpm drop when put into full automatic mode in 6th is the lock up of the torque converter. Chad will know for sure. I think many of the modern automatics have torque converter lock up to improve mpg… If rpm drops it is real and the only explanation that makes sense to me…. Mahalo Mike

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