Back in the day, vehicles with automatic gearboxes didn't really deliver a fun driving experience. Some might argue the same today, but I digress. While they take away the stress of constantly stepping on a clutch pedal during bumper-to-bumper traffic, they were mostly seen as boring and uninspiring. Old school automatic vehicles had an infamous reputation of being gas guzzlers, too.
Seeing this, Mitsubishi sought to bridge the gap between a traditional automatic transmission, and the tried-and-tested manual gearbox. Say hello to the 1998 Mitsubishi Lancer GLXi Limited, one of the earliest compact cars to come with a manumatic transmission in the mass market segment.
When they first launched this model, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) marketed it as 'F1 technology in your car', which has some nugget of truth to it. Officially called the INVECS-II Sports Mode 4-speed automatic transmission (that's a mouthful), the unique gearbox benefited from adaptive shift control. It's an early form of fuzzy logic that can detect input from the driver and adjust the shifts accordingly.
Thanks to the tech, the transmission can automatically downshift when you're overtaking and smooth out the shifts when you're driving normally. Mitsubishi also claimed the transmission can automatically downshift on downhill slopes upon brake application. This negates the need to shift to '2' or 'L' for engine braking.
Impressive, but how fast can it switch cogs when in manual mode? Mitsubishi says that it can downshift in just 0.2 seconds and only needs 0.3 seconds to upshift. Not bad for a manumatic gearbox that was released way back in the late 90s.
But how rare are these Lancers with manumatic transmissions? According to Mitsubishi, they only made 300 units of the GLXi A/T Limited. Meanwhile, 90 examples of the GLXi with manual gearboxes were made, making the stick-shift variant even rarer.
All GLXi Limited models come with black interior trim, with the former having color-coordinated leather seats and door trim inserts that match the car's exterior body color. As for the manual versions, they have Champignon-colored leather seats and door trim inserts. 14-inch mesh-type aluminum wheels and dual tailpipe mufflers came standard as well.
Today, almost every new car is available with an automatic transmission with manual select. From traditional automatics to CVTs and even dual-clutch transmissions, the manumatic function has essentially become a must-have on most cars. More importantly, self-shifting transmissions today can shift faster, deliver a sportier driving experience, and are more fuel-efficient.
Shout out again to Car Brochure Collection PH for taking us on another trip down memory lane.