other benefits of manual transmissions:
* easier on the brakes, since you can take advantage of engine braking (i.e. by simply lifting off the gas)
* more control in the winter, since you can easily sense loss of traction, because of the linear relationship of rpm to vehicle speed in a given gear
i am also able to practice heel-and-toe downshifting, which is an even rarer art than being able to drive a manual ...
one downside is that i cannot trust anyone to drive my car, even a (non-benz) mechanic, since very few of them are familiar with how to place it in reverse.