I grew up driving an automatic transmission vehicle. In the States, every vehicle I ever drove for work was also an automatic. That included many different pick-ups along with the awesomeness that was the Ford Crown Victoria. Here, automatics are not so common. After some chagrinning practice in the yard, I have been driving around for the last couple weeks in a manual transmission vehicle. I kind of put it off since I was still living in the hotel and my predecessor was still here so I didn't have a regular vehicle anyway so I just sort of side-stepped the matter. But, now that it's just me, living by myself in this apartment, I need to drive. Last week, it was a Skoda Octavio. This week, and in the future, a VW Passat. (Both are diesel station wagons. It's very hip, especially the pale blue color.) I'm getting better, though I suppose I really couldn't get worse than my first day in the yard. Apparently the key is being smooth and steady off the clutch. Hollywood has lied to me once again. Dan you Transporter movies!
I'd say there are two basic metrics to concern myself with. The first is the first gear success percentage. Coming off of a dead stop, how often am I successfully getting into first gear without stalling the vehicle. The Skoda was very sensitive in this respect, more so than most vehicles according to my colleagues. This number is steadily rising, though every once in a while I lose focus. Hopefully, driving the Passat full time will allow me to smooth out my technique. The second metric is smooth shift percentage, meaning how often am I moving from gear to gear with little to no jerkiness, basically an indicator of two things: my smoothness coming off the clutch and my ability to match the RPMs with some reasonable accuracy.
Starting from a dead stop while facing uphill is still a work in progress. Thankfully, this half of the country is pretty flat.