Paddle shifter gearboxes were introduced back in the 1990s by the now-iconic Ferrari F355 Berlinetta. Fast-forward 30 years you can buy all sorts of cars equipped with paddle shifters such as hatchbacks, sedans, crossovers, SUVs, station wagons, supercars, or even EVs, but EV paddle shifters utilize an entirely different function.
However, paddle shifters were introduced for performance cars and they are the ones that benefit from paddle shifters the most. As such, we are going to list a few sports cars that are designed with paddle shifters in mind.
The Alfa Romeo 4C is a compact sports car made by an iconic legendary brand which makes the 4C a great buy no matter how big or small your budget is. Besides the 4C, the new BMW M3 is also built with paddle shifters in mind because it is, after all, the performance sedan benchmark for decades and running.
If you want a sports car with the best automatic transmission on the market, be sure to check out the Porsche 911 equipped with a PDK gearbox. If you prefer muscle cars, but you still want to utilize paddle shifters, be sure to check out the Camaro ZL1. If supercars are your cup of tea, the Huracan RWD is the one to get.
Alfa Romeo 4C – A superior compact sports car
The Alfa Romeo 4C was introduced back in 2016, and ever since then, this gorgeous little sports car has captured the imagination of many performance car enthusiasts across the world. The 4C is designed to both look stunning and to deliver both on-road and on track.
The 4C comes with a lovely 1.75L inline-4 cylinder engine that pushes out 240hp and a 6-speed automatic equipped with paddle shifters. The main advantage the 4C has over most compact sports cars is its mid-engine layout which is usually associated with top-of-the-line supercars.
BMW M3 – A performance sedan benchmark
The BMW M3 is and probably always will be an iconic sports car because it offers the best compromise between comfort and performance out of all compact sedans on the market. Even though the C63 is also a great sports sedan, the new one is going to get a 4-cylinder engine which is nowhere near as exciting as the inline-6 found in the new M3.
The M3 is available with either a 6-speed manual or a torque converter automatic with paddle shifters. If you value fast lap-times and an easy daily-driver experience, be sure to opt for the torque converter automatic. However, the torque converter is only available with the top-of-the-line Competition trim.
Porsche 911 – The best DCT gearbox on the planet
The Porsche 911 is a completely different story when compared to the 4C and the M3 because the 911 offers a rear-mounted flat-6 engine which is not something you will find in any other car out there. Besides the lovely flat-6, the 911 comes with Porsches incredibly sophisticated PDK gearbox which is the best DCT unit out there.
The Porsche PDK combines both comfort and performance better than any other car out there which makes it both a great daily driver and a track-focused sports car. The 911 also comes in many different variants including a cabriolet, a Targe, or the most focused GT3, GT3RS, GT2RS variants.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – A state of the art muscle car
The Camaro ZL1 is a true muscle car because it comes with a brutal 6.2L V8 that pushes out 640 horsepower. The ZL1 is both great on-road and on track which is not something you can say for most muscle cars out there.
The ZL1 also comes with a 10-speed automatic equipped with paddle shifters which make the ZL1 as focused as possible. Cars such as these are a dying breed because we will not be able to enjoy large V8 engines soon, so be sure to check out the ZL1 while you still can.
Lamborghini Huracan RWD – The best supercar on the market
The Lamborgini Huracan RWD is also a dying breed because it offers a naturally aspirated V10 engine even in 2021. The RWD version is only offered as a rear-wheel-drive car which makes the Huracan RWD even more agile than its AWD Huracan Evo older brother.
The Huracan comes with a 7-speed DCT gearbox that makes thunderous noises during downshifts which makes the Huracan extremely exciting to drive both on track and the road. All other supercars these days are incredibly computerized and dull, but this raging bull still offers a true supercar recipe.
Why should I use paddle shifters?
If you drive a performance car, paddle shifters enable you to take control of the car’s gearbox without taking your hands off the steering wheel. This makes the driving experience exponentially more engaging and it also enables you to perfectly time your shifts while focusing on your steering inputs.
You can leave the car in pure automatic mode and never use paddle shifters, but it is better to do so because paddle shifters make the car way more engaging to drive. Once you start downshifting with paddle shifters in cars such as the Huracan RWD, you will never go back to pure automatic mode.
Why do so many cars offer paddle shifters these days?
Adding paddle shifters to any car is rather easy and cheap because most automakers already have cars that are made with paddle shifters in mind. This means that adding paddle shifters to other models does not require lots of R&D cost, but it certainly increases the appeal of most cars.
You can find paddle shifters in all sorts of cars these days, but most people tend to skip using them on cars that are not designed for spirited driving.
Are manual performance cars better than paddle shifter performance cars?
It depends on what you value the most and what you want to accomplish. If you want the fastest 0-60mph time car with launch control and superior track-times while still being comfortable and easy to drive, be sure to opt for paddle shifters.
On the other hand, if you want a pure sportscar experience and you love a more engaging drive, be sure to go for the manual, but be aware that a manual will never be as fast as an automatic.