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2000 Mazda Protege ES
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50 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I test drove a Forester with the 5 speed manual this week. The action seemed so bad, rough, not very initiative and the clutch action was only so so. This was right after testing a Jetta TDI and Mazda 3 both have manuals that are simply amazing.

Did folks with manuals notice the action got better after a but of a breaking in period?
 

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2009 Outback XT-B 5MT
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Subaru's tend to be "special". They DO require some level of break-in, but it's mostly getting used to it. I've found Subaru MT's to be completely unique vs. any other transmission out there. Unique, as it turns out, in a way that you grow to like and enjoy.
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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4,909 Posts
I test drove a Forester with the 5 speed manual this week. The action seemed so bad, rough, not very initiative and the clutch action was only so so. This was right after testing a Jetta TDI and Mazda 3 both have manuals that are simply amazing...
I have a 2006 Scion xB with a similar amazing smooth featherlite clutch and gearbox. In 2008 when I test drove a Forester new 5MT I was disappointed in the feel and travel of both the clutch and the shifter in comparison to the Scion. But when I took a used 2007 on an extended 4-hour test drive, it was OK. Either it had broken in or I just got used to it or both.
 

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2010 FXT 4EAT
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86 Posts
You're feeling the difference between a cable operated transmission in the other two cars and the shifter actually being bolted directly to the transmission like in the forester. Go drive a new Genesis coupe, or a mustang to feel similar transmissions. The cable operated transmissions have multiple rubber isolators in them to make the "action" smoother as compared to a non-cabe operated transmission.
 

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I've had the same experience with the 06 I recently bought. It had been a while since I'd owned a manual, so I figured I just needed time to re-establish the smooth shifting I had in previous MT cars (Mazda, Toyotas, VW). But it's still, as you say, rough sometimes in the lower range. Sometimes it's hard to find the "sweet spot" with the lever & I have to back off momentarily & try again. Glad to know it's not just me.
 

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On my 2009, the 5MT needed some break in to loosen things up. After 5k miles, the clutch is a bit smoother now and the shift action is a little less "notchy" but by no means smooth. The shifter on my Jeep Wrangler was also bolted directly to the transmission but was noticeably smoother than the Forester. I've gotten used to the feel of it, but reverse almost always requires a few tries to engage. This is my biggest annoyance with the 5MT right now.
 

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2010 Forester 2.5x Prem
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57 Posts
MT5

OK I have about 6600mi on my 2010 and I still can't find reverse sometimes, you really have to come to a dead stop in the previous forward gear be it 2nd or 1st and just as you feel yourself stop shift it to R, use the rocking sensation of the vehicle to help slide it into reverse. Works sometimes.
Fifth gear is another one there's nothing smooth about finding fifth. I think is has gotten smoother over the 6K miles but it's still not intuitive like other manuals I've driven.
Been drinving MT since I was 16 and now I'm 49 so I love'em and the only tranny I perfer to buy.
I was so disappointed when I found out I couldn't get a XTurbo with a MT5 or MT6.
And just yesterday I read that a MT is the only tranny you will get with the new Aussie diesel Forester sounds ok to me. I wonder if they will make it to our shores?

So the answer is - yeah they kind-of suck but you get use to it. Just like the radio.:shrug:
The one thing I do like very much is the Hill assist. Didn't even know it was included. Imagine my surprise the first time I let the clutch out on a hill and the vehicle didn't roll at all, I thought something was wrong.
 

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2017 Foz 2.5i CVT
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They break in a bit, and the clutch engagement point changes upward, but it is my conclusion that the Foz, and probably most other MT Subarus, are weird/quaint and NOT designed to be driver's cars. I have had the ECU reflashed to stop the insane high revving between gears, but I would still like the drive by wire mechanism to be removed and have a direct throttle cable.

I have owned probably 20 stick shift cars over the years (prolly half a million miles, and drag raced some of them), including muscle cars, Corvettes, trucks, etc. and one of my favorite drivetrains is in my 1991 BMW 318is--which I still have and drive for fun. THAT has a great shifter/clutch coordination factor. However, the Foz does shift much nicer than my long-gone 1980 Toyota FJ40 Land Crusher. Like the old Land Crusher, it gives me satisfaction to drive the Foz smoothly, but it sure ain't a driver's car. It's like the Subaru engineers designed the stuff to work well on paper, but like they have never driven a car with a great drivetrain to compare.

Most of my stick shift cars have been RWD with direct shifters (and I installed Hurst shifters and brass bushings on my own cars back in the day), and this is NOT the reason for the Foz shifting as it does.

Note that I still like my Foz; it's got almost 24k miles on it. As for the comments on reverse, virtually every stick shift car sometimes needs the gears moved a mm or so to be able to put it in. If I can't put it into reverse easily, I just slip the lever into 3rd gear or whatever is closest, then it will usually go into reverse just fine.

George
 

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2000 Mazda Protege ES
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Discussion Starter #9
I have had the ECU reflashed to stop the insane high revving between gears,
I noticed and was very upset about that too. I attributed it to maybe my bundgling the clutch work but now assume it is a fault of the car.

Is this ECU update something you did, the dealer did and is there a technical service bulletin on it? I wonder if it is something Subi plans to implement for all upcoming Foresters?
 

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'09 STI
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OK I have about 6600mi on my 2010 and I still can't find reverse sometimes, you really have to come to a dead stop in the previous forward gear be it 2nd or 1st and just as you feel yourself stop shift it to R, use the rocking sensation of the vehicle to help slide it into reverse. Works sometimes.

Try fourth gear first. I don't know any manual transmission that likes to be shifted into reverse while rolling forward... Subies need to have the clutch pressed to the floor before and until the shift is completed.
 

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2017 Foz 2.5i CVT
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I noticed and was very upset about that too. I attributed it to maybe my bundgling the clutch work but now assume it is a fault of the car.

Is this ECU update something you did, the dealer did and is there a technical service bulletin on it? I wonder if it is something Subi plans to implement for all upcoming Foresters?
Dealer does it---TSB 11-89-08.

Here is a thread in which I posted a copy of the pdf of the TSB, so you can put it in your dealer's face if there is any issue. Took about a half hour. There is still a slow RPM dropoff between gears, but not the stupid over revving that the Foz used to do. When coasting down my driveway in gear with the clutch in, the engine used to rev at like 2k rpm...

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f88/forester-my09-x-manual-idle-rev-problems-52665/

Good luck,
George
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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You're feeling the difference between a cable operated transmission in the other two cars and the shifter actually being bolted directly to the transmission like in the forester... The cable operated transmissions have multiple rubber isolators in them to make the "action" smoother as compared to a non-cabe operated transmission.
Before the Scion, though, the smoothest clutch and shifter was in the 1971 and 1974 BMW 2002 cars that I had for a total of 15 years. Cable actuation seems harder to make feel good, compared to a shifter that is directly connected to the transmission. I don't understand how two shifters that go right into the transmission -- the old BMWs and the current Foresters -- could feel so different.
 

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2009 2.5X EJ253 Manual
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2,830 Posts
Well, I've got 12,900 miles and I have mixed feelings about my 5-speed manual. I'm about 50/50 on wishing I'd got the automatic but still enjoy the 5-speed in open driving, i.e. not in stop and go traffic. The main thing I wish was 1st gear was slightly taller. But I guess that would further compromise off road performance. The Foz has the shortest 1st gear of any car I've had.

When mine was new, yes, it was tough to make smooth shifts and the engine felt thrashy through the shifts. That subsided and is gone now. I can shift smooth but it took until probably 3000 miles of driving to get used the Subaru manual trans,for me.

The notchy shifter feel eases up some with break-in but never completely goes away. Here's why: Front differential is imbedded inside the manual trans and shares gear lube with the manual trans. Front differential is a hypoid driven gear type, so API GL-5 grade gear oil is required. Conundrum: GL-5 gear oil isn't the optimal spec to use for best synchro operation in a manual trans; GL-4 is. I've had my head all up in GL-5 gear oils and the Subaru manual transmission lately. It seems that the Subaru manual trans is very sensitive to the gear oil even within GL-5 spec as far as shift notchiness goes. Some over on NASIOC have practically made an art form out of trying to formualte the optimum gear oil cocktail to use in the WRX manual trans to get smoothest shift lever action and by that I mean they will use a couple qts of one oil, and then a qt of another, then they might mix in a small amount of a third type of gear oil. All in the quest for the elusive warm butter shift lever action.
 

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2009 Outback XT-B 5MT
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Conundrum: GL-5 gear oil isn't the optimal spec to use for best synchro operation in a manual trans; GL-4 is.
That isn't true.

This is entirely dependent on the base material for the synchros. GL-5 oils used to be typically high in sulfer, which would deterioriate very soft metal synchros (like brass, for example). Subaru synchros aren't brass, and the age of technology has provided GL-5 lubricants that do not rely on high sulfur content to increase high load properties.
 

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2008 Forester
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54 Posts
Just to throw my 2 cents in. It took some getting used to when going from Honda to subie's 5mt. However, I wouldn't trade my subaru 5mt for any honda manual now. After 30k miles the clutch engagement is as good as the first day, it's consistent and with Bac's Motul Gear 300 and smurfblood mix it shifts great all year round. I also couldn't imagine living without hill assist. I just hated that rotten egg smell from my Hondas due to hilly starts living in Montreal.

After 30k miles on both of my honda's over the years the clutch engagement changed drastically and would take more and more release to get the same engagement making the launch very jumpy over time. Not with the the subie. It's my first subaru, and if their future cars are like this 08 Forester, it won't be my last!
 

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2007 Forester Sport XT 5MT
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737 Posts
I find the shifter to be totally - utilitarian.
It isn't good or even fun which is a shame in a close ratio gearbox - but it works and you get used to it.
My favorite was my '73 Celica. (Direct shifter, hydraulic clutch)
The worst was my '79 Cerokee Chief. (Direct Linkage for transmission and clutch)

El Sid
 
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