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‘Manuals are daft’, says Land Rover Defender engineering boss

By Cameron Kirby, 13 Sep 2019 News

‘Manuals are daft’, says Land Rover Defender engineering boss

Three-pedal traditionalists should cover their ears now

The man responsible for leading the engineering team for the new Land Rover Defender has described the idea of fitting a manual transmission to the car as “daft”.

Nick Rogers is the Executive Director for Product Engineering, and he isn’t exactly a fan of having a three-pedal transmission fitted to the reborn legend.

“A manual [gearbox], for me, is just daft,” he told Australian media.

“Why is it daft? Because you are introducing NCAP systems and we’ve got a state-of-the-art motion control system on the car, linked with an MHEV system that can scoop up energy every time you decelerate – we have got millions of lines of code in the algorithms for the gearbox, motion control, e-turbo, and all the rest of it.

“To give someone a gearstick and then make them hang onto the gears isn’t really the most efficient thing to do.”

Rogers believes that it was Land Rover’s duty to not completely eliminate the need for driver inputs when off-roading, but to give the user more confidence to go further off the beaten track than ever before.

In his effort to democratise the joys of off-roading, Rogers believes the manual gearbox didn’t gel with the new modern, technology-leading Defender.

“With an eight-speed gearbox, it is definitely more efficient and powerful than a manual. It is definitely safer and easier to use,” he said.

“The adoption of automatics is going to be more, and more, and more.”

While DIY gearshifting may be limited (you can still select ratios, you just don’t have a clutch), Rogers is confident that the human won’t be eliminated from driving duties while off-road in the near future.