Its funny, I think my transmission feels great. The throws are crisp and there isn't a lot of "play" in the stick. Clutch engagement is nice too.
The transmission in my brother's car is a pile of steaming hot garbage. Vague, loose, long throws. It's terrible, and the clutch engages really early in the pedal travel without much linearity.
I don't know if they made significant changes between model years (mine is '12 his is '14) or trim levels (ECO vs LT), but they feel like completely different transmissions
WARNING: I am about to rant. You don't have to read any of it, I promise you won't miss anything.
Don't get me wrong, I've adapted and grown to love the thing, but I would make so many changes if I could. I've got the non-ECO Getrag M32 MR5 6-Speed Manual in my 2014 1LT Cruze. Here's my gripes:
-When I first bought it, I suffered the 1-2 grind under hard acceleration. The factory manual trans fluid is known to be under filled from the factory and is a very cheap thin oil. The syncros cut right through the oil, and with the huge ratio gap between 1-2 it tends to lead to grinding with a quick shift. I've heard it's even worse in the ECO since the gap is bigger between first and second. I changed the trans fluid to Amsoil synchromesh and it helped a lot. I eventually learned how to shift slowly and work with the transmission.
-That brings me to the second issue, the transmission likes to fight me. I feel like I push the clutch in and apply slight pressure to shift out of gear, and I have to wait to it to want to come out on it own, otherwise I feel like I'm forcing it out against it's wishes. Then going into the next gear it likes to fight because the difference in gear ratios is so wide for 1-2-3 the synchros have to work harder to line up the shift collar. This problem isn't really helped by the rev hang. I'd like to bring 3rd a little closer to 2nd, and 2nd a lot closer to 1st.
-It's very chunky and shifts with a lot of noise from the engine bay, sound's very unrefined.
-The gap between 5th and 6th is too small, the difference is negligible. You could just as easily go from 4th to 6th all the time and never miss 5th. 5th is really only good when you're cruising at exactly 38 mph. 38 is too much for 4th and too little for 6th on slight inclines. I'd rather just have the ECO 6th and bring 5th up a little.
-Since the factory likes to under fill the transmission, if you don't change it with the proper amount, you'll likely experience bearing failure on the 5th and 6th gear shaft, since it sits higher in the transmission. It doesn't get enough oil. That's a manufacturing error though, not necessarily a fault with the trans.
-The clutch feels like sometimes it's delayed. When I shift I can take my foot off the gas and hit the clutch same time under hard acceleration, and sometimes the car lurches like I pulled my foot completely off the gas in gear and never touched the clutch. It's weird.
-The clutch has no feeling at all, it's like it's connected to the transmission through a pillow. You can't feel anything.
I realize I'm being very critical, and the transmission I just described above, if it made any sense at all, is tailored to my personal driving style. This car isn't meant to be brisk off the line then cruise with an eco gearing. This particular trim level, the 1LT was designed to get great gas mileage, but it couldn't be better than the ECO's mileage, so they made the 6th gear in the LT the same ratio as 5th gear in the ECO and adjusted all the others down a bit to accommodate the change.
I also want to point that on a scale of 1-10, 1 being: I don't notice anything it's perfect. and 10 being: It's un-live-able, I had to trade the car in the problem was so bad, these problems rate at about a 2-3. They're slightly annoying, but I've learned to live with them. Each manual has it's own personality, and the one in my car, and I don't get along very well but I'm trying to earn it's love and learn to love it back. We can co-exist no problem.