The things you’ve described about modern cars and automatics that you dislike are all things that would, in the game, detract from Sportiness. Slushy automatic response and numb electric power steering are accounted for in the game’s stats in Sportiness, not comfort. I think its a little tough for you to say objectively that automatics are only subjectively more comfortable because you prefer sporty characteristics in a car. In the game’s demographics, people with your preferences are accounted for in demographics where sportiness is much more important than comfort. I daily drive a manual and enjoy it, and I am comfortable with it, but that doesn’t mean the manual transmission makes the car more comfortable. Similarly, I feel more comfortable off-roading a truck with solid axles and manual lockers, but it would be silly of me to say that a solid front axle makes a truck more comfortable.
Those are good points. I actually daily drive a truck with straight axles front and rear, so it is absolutely familiar. That being said I actually prefer a multi-link or an SLA (double wishbone) for in a car. I get that feedback I look for in a vehicle, and the control and smoothness are there. Don’t care for McPherson, they ride ok, but I have replaced wayyyyy too many strut bearings to trust one long term. Mechanically I prefer a good ball joint or bushing. That’s a technical preference, and does not affect my assessment of comfort or sportiness. Personally I also much prefer RWD over FWD. Mostly this is related to torque steer, and power distribution. I can drive a FWD fine, so there is no difference in comfort, but I can tell a difference mostly in drivability, and somewhat in sportiness. Both of these factors play into the familiar vs relaxing argument for what defines comfort. I just maintain that the M/T vs A/T debate is about drivability and sportiness, not comfort, and that the nomenclature is wrong (implying the manual is unwanted, instead of niche).