Yes, I am really anal on this. I have driven manual transmissions in everything from Army Jeeps and Army MultiFuel Cargo Trucks, to Corvettes, Porsches, VW's, MB's, Fords, Chevy's, Plymouths, Audi A4, Tractors, Honda's, Toyota's, Fiero's, a Hay Truck or two, Mustang's, Corvairs, Civilian Jeeps, Dodge Cummins 5 Speed, etc. I don't remember any of them being particularly bad or particularly good. If you know how to handle a stick and a clutch, one drives about as good as another. The next thing is the reliability. Again, if you really know how to handle a manual transmission, the worst of them will last forever. If you continue to move the shift lever before the clutch is completely disengaged, you will round off gears and/or ruin brass.
A fellow I used to work with had two manual transmission cars that he and his wife drove. They constantly had transmissions knocked out. I never said anything to him, but it was clear, that he and/or his wife did not know how to handle them properly.
I can see where if you have a limited amount of experience with manual transmissions, you may notice differences from one to the next. A really high time airplane pilot can usually climb into about any airplane and fly it and just do it. It comes from lots of stick time (no pun intended). This is the only explanation that I can come up with for this understanding gap. I drive about any manual transmission without even thinking about it. If I get in a strange vehicle, I won't be totally smooth at first, because it takes a few starts and shifts to know that particular clutch.
There are many young people in this country who couldn't drive a manual transmission, even if it were an emergency. I think that this is part of what is playing into this gap.
As a matter of fact, I'm shocked that ANY mid engine or rear engine car can have a shifter that you can brag about. These are usually the worst, like a VW, a rear engine Porsche or a Fiero (I have never driven a Boxster, but if you say so, it must shift well). There are just additional factors that play into the equation in a rear or mid engine situation.
In case you haven't read between the lines yet, When someone condemns the MB manual as bad shifting, I am suspect of their amount of time and experience handling manual transmissions in general.
Have a great day,
'01 C Class, Six Speed
'84 Euro 240D, 523K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in