There are 3 sports sedans that are considered ULTRA HIGH PERFORMANCE sedans. The best sports sedans on the Planet(The BMW M5, E55 M. Benz, and the Jaguar XJR). Two of the three sedans, the E55 Mercedes Benz and Jaguar XJR are not even available with a manual trasmission. Editor Sam Mitani of Road & Track noted "The E55 has a quicker and tighter turn-in feel than the M5. I had more fun in the Mercedes than the BMW on this track." Keep in mind Isissy300, the BMW M5 has a 6 speed Getrag transmission, while the E55 has a 5 speed automatic... Whether a car has a manual or automatic transmission has absolutely nothing to do with whether it is a true sports sedan or not. ... Everything about the IS300 suggests that it's a true sports sedan so don't try to tell us otherwise....
While I don't agree with the tone of the original post, there is some truth to the post despite your many examples of fast sports cars and sedans with autos. It simply isn't the same experience and has nothing to do with 0-60 times. It is about the joy of smoothly driving your on a nice backroad and the control a manual transmission gives you and the way it feels to do a perfect heel and toe downshift. No matter what they do with autos they will always be autos. F1 cars have automatics for a number of reasons, not the least of which was hundred thousand dollar engines blowing up due to misshifts (18,000 rpm will do that). So that isn't a good analogy. They added it to Ferraris for novelty but if I was to buy a Modena I would opt for the manual. It is not like you are going to drive it to work everyday.
Since the IS is getting one next year, I wouldn't jump so quickly to the auto bandwagon.
I noticed the IS300 has a 3.91 final drive. That is a real quick final drive by today's standard (same as my 91 M5). I am sure it accounts for much of the good acceleration numbers and it would interesting to see if it is changed at all when the 6 speed manual come out.
A sports sedan is not defined by a manual or automatic tranny. A sports sedan is defined by it's performance oriented nature and road abilities (ie. double wishbone suspension, low profile tires, big brakes, etc.). Manual or auto is just personal a preference. A Toyota Tercel has a manual but that does not make it a sports sedan.
Isn't the whole idea behind all these autostick, tiptronic, manumatic and sprotshift transmission is to combine the nature of a manual transmission with the convenience of a automatic? I personally love the 5spd manumatic since I get leg cramp with LA's stop and go traffic.
S Flavor, how much performance are you willing to give up for that auto? I have been tempted by the auto but, for example, could never get the A4 in the auto due to such a ridiculous loss of performance.