2011 Infiniti M56 Long-Term Road Test


2011 Infiniti M56: What's Wrong With This Picture?

September 12, 2011

M56 shifter.jpg

The manual shifting function, that's what. The direction you pull/push the lever is opposite from what makes sense.

I do like that the system gives big throttle blips on manual downshifts, but the lever operation should be push forward for downshifts, pull back for upshifts, and that's not the way it is here on the M56.

What boggles my mind that most manufacturers set up their manual-shifting automatics incorrectly.

So why is the direction you push/pull the lever important?

Most of the time when you're downshifting, you are decelerating and the force of that moves your body forward. Therefore it makes sense to push the lever forward. Why fight physics, right? And when you're accelerating (and therefore upshifting), your body is moving rearward, so it makes sense to pull back for the upshift.

But only a few manufacturers opt for the correct and intuitive operation, such as BMW, Mazda, Ford and Lincoln.

Pretty much everyone else does it wrong. Even Porsche, with its automatics and now their PDK dual-clutch systems, sets up their shifting in the wrong fashion, being pull back on the lever to downshift. The hilarious part with Porsche is that the sequential transmission in their 911 GT3 Cup race cars is push forward to downshift.

Ask an official from BMW or Mazda why they have their automatics set up the way they do and they'll tell you it's all about the way the body is moving during upshifts/downshifts. That's how they settled on push forward/downshift, pull back/upshift.

Ask any of the other manufacturers how they chose their shift direction, and they either a) have no idea, "It's just the way we chose to do it." or b) say it's the way the industry does it or c) say it's the way their customers want it.

For some reason, some people associate shifting down with pulling back. I just don't get that.

Now, if I owned the M56 I'm sure I would eventually get used to its incorrect operation. But it would still always be wrong.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 15,634 miles.

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