We’ve gotten used to quoting faster acceleration times for automatic gearboxes. Be it a car with a conventional torque converter auto or a dual-clutch transmission, brisk launch control starts paired with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shifts mean the old-fashioned manual just doesn’t stand a chance.
Or does it? Out in the real world, does auto always beat manual, or - if you can launch cleanly enough and shift as fast as humanly possible - can stick shift match or even beat an auto?
To find out, Jonathan Benson of Tyre Reviews took a break from his usual geek-outs about rubber hoops to get testing, using a pair of BMW M2 Competitions - one with a six-speed manual, and the other with a seven-speed DCT.
According to BMW, the manual should go from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds, while the DCT is supposed to do the same in 4.2. Replicating those on a medium grip surface at the Mira test track simply isn’t possible, but that gap of two tenths between the two should, in theory, be consistent when looking at the best runs for both cars. Benson put the same tyres on each M2 and even put some ballast in one car to make up for its lighter seats, just to make sure the test was as fair as possible.
What might potentially help the manual IRL is that it’ll hit 62mph in second-gear, which can take the M2 Comp all the way to 70mph. The automatic, on the other hand, needs to shift to third during the benchmark sprint.
Watch the video above to see what happens.