The most obvious difference between a 5-speed and a 6-speed manual transmission is the number of speeds: A 5-speed has five different gears and a 6-speed has six.
Until very recently, most consumer automobiles mass-produced with manual transmissions tended to be 5-speeds. Only higher-end cars with more powerful engines and finer-crafter components tended to have 6-speeds.
Since the late 1990s, cars that are not considered high-performance autos have largely been manufactured with 6 speeds. These are generally autos designed to be more energy efficient.
In recent 6-speeds, the extra speed from a 5-speed allows the engine to run at a lower RPM and save fuel, comparatively. This difference is most effective at highway driving speeds.
Whereas in a 5-speed, drivers are advised to accelerate above 25mph in fourth gear, in a 6-speed car, drivers are advised to accelerate above 35mph in fifth gear.
Getting the Feel
As manual shifting is a fairly intuitive skill set, there is no easy advice for a driver who is changing from a 5-speed car to a 6-speed. The driver just needs to develop a feel for the engine and be able to work out the changes for herself.
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