I prefer manuals for many reasons.
#1: way more control over engine RPM, speed / gear
#2 ability to keep revs low when engine is still warming up
#3 more engaging driving experience
#4 when you have mastered driving your car and the feel of your gears, you'll be shifting without even realizing.
#5 Push start ability ( in a bad scenario ) less chance of being stranded
#6 no ecu controlling gears shifting when you don't want it to.
#7 Less chance of car being stolen ( FACT )
#9 ability to still shift WITHOUT Clutch in emergency situation
#10 it's more comfortable
One thing about people I've seen with manual transmissions is nobody downshifts. Proper downshifting is awesome and feels beautiful. Don't think you've got a complete manual transmission driving experience until you can downshift into every gear ( except 1/6/ reverse lol )
Dose skipping a gear provide any real benefit?
I have been told that it puts additional wear on the snychros. The reason why is that each gears synchros are sized specifically to shift to the next gear, and they optimize the shift with the RPM of the main shaft in the transmission. so for 2nd gear, the synchros are spinning at the correct speed and matching the main shaft to make an easy transition to 3rd gear. When you go from 2nd gear to 4th gear, The 4th gear synchro has to slow the main shaft down really really quickly to match the engine RPM and it causes un-necessary wear. You may not even feel it happen, and the shift may feel smooth, but it's happening. Imagine you're in 3rd gear at 5500 RPM and you shift to 6th gear and your RPM drops to 1500 RPM. That synchro just did ALL the work in matching the engine RPM to the main shaft. that's 4000RPM of momentum that has to be stopped in less than 1 second. Instead of a 5th to 6th shift where it may be 500 rpm.
as far as I've been told.
Think of it this way. If an engine is spinning 500 RPM and you have to stop it with your hand it's going to be pretty damn difficult. Now imagine you have to stop one going 4000RPM. it's probably going to rip your arm off. your synchro takes that abuse when you skip.