Dear Chrysler: Please Build a 2015 Dodge Challenger V6 with a Manual Transmission
Let there be no mistake – I love the 2015 Dodge Challenger. I love the 1971-esque exterior changes, I love the vastly improved interior, I love the new Scat Pack model with 485 horsepower and, above all else, I love the 707 horsepower Hellcat Hemi. What I don’t love is that there is still no manual transmission option with the base model V6, which gives the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang a significant advantage in the modern muscle car race.
I Understand Why There is No V6 Manual
If you ask a Chrysler representative why there is no manual transmission option with the 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, they will tell you that the take rate for a base model manual transmission model is low – and they would be right. With more and more excellent automatic transmissions including dual clutch gearboxes hitting the US market, we are seeing more performance cars going to an automatic transmission and because of that, less and less cars are being sold with a manual transmission. The sales figures make it clear that there is far more interest in an automatic transmission and the industry has followed that trend, with models like the 2015 Corvette Z06 coming with a fast shifting automatic.
Also, the new 8-speed automatic transmission in the 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT with the 3.6L Pentastar V6 makes the entry level Mopar muscle car one of the most efficient options in the segment…even though it is also the biggest.
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT in B5 Blue
The first images of the 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker
Comparison gallery between the 2013 and 2015 Dodge Challenger
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat in TorRed
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat in Sublime
When you consider the facts that the manual transmission has a low take rate and that the 8-speed automatic does a great job of combining efficiency and performance, it isn’t hard to understand why Chrysler wouldn’t want to spend the money to develop a manual transmission.
The Demand is Clearly There
While fewer people may want a manual transmission, there are still plenty of muscle car drivers out there who want to bang their own gears and that is why the 5.7L Hemi, the 6.4L Hemi and the 6.2L Hellcat Hemi are all offered in different forms with the buyer’s choice of a 6-speed manual gearbox or an 8-speed automatic transmission. This is also why the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro are offered with a 6-speed manual transmission and 6-speed automatic transmission across all trimlines, but if you want a V6 Challenger – you are forced to settle for the 8-speed automatic transmission.
This not only gives the Mustang and the Camaro an advantage in the eyes of many prospective buyers, but it also gives those two V6-powered muscle cars a performance advantage. Even with the automatic transmission technology advancements that make the Hellcat Hemi and the 8-speed automatic a match made in heaven, a smaller, less powerful engine like the 3.6L Pentastar would benefit a great deal in terms of both wheel horsepower and basic fun to drive factor with a manual transmission.
While Chrysler may point out that the target market for the 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT prefer the automatic transmission, Ford and Chevy sell plenty of V6 muscle cars with manual transmissions. While a V6 muscle car buyer obviously doesn’t list performance as their #1 concern (otherwise, they would buy a V8 model), performance is still important and there is no question that the manual transmission would make a well driven V6 Challenger quicker. It would also make it more fun to drive and that is why people buy V6 Camaros and V6 Mustangs with the manual transmission.
Unfortunately, it appears that the bean counters who point out the low rate of return on developing a manual transmission for the 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT will win out in this case. Fortunately, those same stick in the mud numbers people lost the battle with the likes of the Hellcat Challenger so not having a manual transmission in the base model proves to be a solid tradeoff for a 707hp halo car.
However, if the Chrysler Group was to offer a manual transmission for the “base model” Dodge Challenger with the V6 engine, there is no question that some folks who want more driving excitement out of their affordable muscle car would more closely consider the Challenger against the Mustang and Camaro.