Unlike most people on Jalopnik, I do not possess great hatred towards the torque converter and all it has done for us. Sure there are times I hate automatics. I drive a 1999 Honda Odyssey with one transmission replacement and then a rebuild of that replacement. (And it's only been 160,000 miles.) However, to me, making automatics available enabled automakers to sell more cars so they could make the manual diesel rear-drive station wagon we all want and love. Despite this, there are some automatic cars I find to be absolutely fun.
Clutchless manuals, such as DSG and PDK, are not on this list since most vitriol on Jalopnik seems to be thrown towards pure automatics. So no torque converter=not on list. So here goes:
Lexus GS350 F-Sport
Drive the E39 530i Sport, the F10 535i M-Sport, and then the GS350 F-Sport. Then you'll understand why I recommend the GS350 to E39 drivers who didn't have a V-8 in their cars. The steering feel is what 5-Series cars used to have, and the handling is better than the current 5-Series. I don't even mind the styling when the Lexus drives this well. It's that good. When a car can out-5-Series an actual 5-Series despite having an 8-speed automatic, it's a fun car. Even for the people riding in the back seat.
Volvo S60 T6 AWD w/ Polestar Upgrade
I'll be honest. I prefer this over the current 335i, though it's slightly below the S4, as idiot-proof as it is. But it's also a lot cheaper than those two while providing 90% of the S4 fun. It's amazing how close the handling and fun comes to the 3-Series. And you can play with the City Safety system. (Just keep in mind that the system bears mixed results.) One of my biggest pet peeves is that no one ever considers the Volvo when shopping for that entry-level executive car. It would give them money to create that manual diesel rear-drive (perhaps not) station wagon.
Didn't see this one coming, did you? The Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed was originally supposed to be in this spot, until I realized the Rolls-Royce Ghost was the way to turn people's expectations upside down. Which is fun. Though it can't do fast like an Audi S8, it can do corners with induced oversteer rather than typical Audi understeer. There's nothing like driving a Rolls-Royce and doing things bystanders wouldn't expect. Like shopping at Safeway. Doing a beer run. Drifting around corners.
Jaguar F-Type V8S
With the sports exhaust option, you'll easily forget that this car isn't available with a manual. But the sound is awesome. Fantastic. Mind-blowing. Needs to be your ringtone. The car is a bit overstyled, but you won't care once you're driving it. You'll always want to be in the driver's seat and enjoying a sound more sonorous than a V-8 Vantage. You won't enjoy it as much as a Boxster in the bends, but it does come very close. But the F-Type is not a sports car, like the Boxster. It's a roadster, in every bit of the term. And you don't really need a manual to enjoy it.
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
I'd like to think there's a very good reason why this car doesn't come with a manual. The potential of getting a launch very, very wrong is way too high. Every customer would never be able to seriously tame the car's torque, which very much why a torque converter is needed. But the 7G-Tronic with AMG Speedshift does its job beautifully. In the C63, there's absolutely nothing like getting onto the highway at full throttle while the transmission is shifting as quickly as it possibly can, with the M156 V-8 making its sound. And decelerating is another story when it produces a grin-inducing bark each time the tranny drops a gear. And of course, this. The C63 is wonderful.
If I'm missing anything from this list or you think I'm totally wrong, please say so.
This list originally appeared on my Kinja blog BecauseCAR.
Images per respective manufacturers.