A Technical Exploration Behind the Success of Honda Shifters

Honda has long been accepted among automakers and car enthusiasts as the best brand to deliver standard-quality manual shifters. Since its inception, the company has been making world-class manual shifters. Even going through the ages of evolution, Honda never changed the signature elements of its shifters, like the precise metal-on-metal feel, the short throw, the ease of use, and the accuracy. Let’s know what makes these shifters the best in class.

The Shifters

The legendary Honda S2000 featured good shifters but were less impressive than the other transmissions coming from the brand. The S2000 and the original S-Series are the only rear-drive front-engine cars the company has ever built. The majority of these cars are front-wheel drive and transverse-engine and have adopted longitudinal engines only on rare occasions. Yet with a gearbox and transverse engine, the shifters in these cars offer purely unfiltered connection to the transmission, reflecting the ones like in the DC2 Integra Type R, original NSX, and the latest Civic Type R. Even a basic manual Civic feels wonderful to shift. During the turn of the millennium, Honda started using shift cables instead of metal linkages in its new front-wheel drive, front-engine models. Retaining the great shift feel of NSX, these new regular car models followed similar pathways and delivered the same satisfactory results too.

The Reason

Honda puts a simple, non-technical answer to the reason behind the success of its manual shifters. Institutionally, the brand has proven to care about this particular stuff, putting a lot of work into all the transmission components of its cars. As the chief engineer of Civic Type R, Hideki Kakinuma, explains, shifters and shift feel have always been a prime focus at Honda.

The Response

According to Chris Weismann from the renowned racing-gearbox design firm Traction Products, over the years, Honda has done a top-notch job in everything related to shifting, from shift handles to the gearboxes. Further explaining, he added that even great shifting gearboxes often fail to deliver a good shifting feel due to poor linkage to the gearbox. Synchronizers are also particularly important to achieve a great shift feel. As per Weismann, Honda has focused on these parts of the equation, too, with great attention to detail, higher manufacturing standards than its peers, and years of dedicated continuous refinement. With a high standard of tolerance, all the correct fit between mating parts, and without any rough edges, Honda delivers excellent finished products with quality control in its shifters, that function way better than others.