Gene Weingarten establishes his (minimal) car creds and tells it like it is in his review of the new Chevy Volt:
This would be a good time to address an issue I’d hoped would be pivotal: This car is designed to annoy people like me, by which I mean obnoxious, proselytizing proponents of clutch-and-stick driving.
I consider Americans’ love affair with the automatic transmission to be a national disgrace, symptomatic of our softness as a people. This preference is lazy, unsophisticated and dumbed-down — as I see it, philosophically inextricable from our lard-butted, couch-potato affinity for junk food, junk TV and celebrity gossip.
The Volt doesn’t come with a stick shift option. I was poised to hate it for that reason alone, if necessary — my fallback position — until I learned that the car, basically, has no transmission at all.
That’s the nature of an electric motor drive train: It speeds up and slows down smoothly without the need for “torque mediation,” a term I just made up because I don’t understand the actual physics. The Volt motors are almost always operating at one gear speed. The Volt’s acceleration is smooth and steady; you don’t experience that familiar, momentary, squishy ebb in power during automatic-transmission gear changes.
Disrespecting this car because it doesn’t have a clutch seems churlish and off-point, like disrespecting dogs because they don’t have gills.