I’ve driven a Prius for nine years after driving manual transmission cars almost exclusively for the previous 50 years. A CVT is inherent in the Prius hybrid design, but I miss the feel of a good manual transmission. (The steering is also very numb.) For a point of reference, my car previous to the Prius was a 1995 Ford Contour SE (V6) with manual transmission. It really was a very nice driving car.
It’s hard to find a new car with a manual these days. Even on the few models that still have a manual available, most dealers don’t have one available for a test drive. Which new models have manual transmissions that are a joy to use?
I prefer something about the size of the Prius, and I like hatchbacks. Perhaps a Ford Focus. Everyone raves about the Mazda3, but I am mildly put off by the styling. The long hood looks a little out of place on a modern FWD car, although it would probably be more reliable than the Focus. In the past, I’ve always liked Honda manual transmissions, but the Civic EX is only available with an automatic. The Civic LX has drum brakes in the rear, and by the time you add alloy wheels, it costs almost as much as the EX. I’ve also though about the 2015 Honda Fit. The Honda Accord and Mazda6 are getting a little too big for my tastes.