If Ford hadn't been stupid and made the manual available on all trims, or made Frosted Glass available with a dark interior I might have gotten a manual, but it was the color + rear disk brakes et al that really narrowed my choices in a hatch down to the DCT in the U.S. despite building the same car for Canada as an SEL with a 5MT.
Sometimes I miss rowing gears, and my next car in probably 5-10 years might be something more like the ST.
My old car was my first stick shift and as a mechanically inclined person and a Mech Engineering student at the time I loved it to death. Its still running, albeit in need of brakes probably, but I gave it to my father since I got the new car.
Its good that there is a choice, but its bad when they won't allow you to choose from every possible option or permutation.
When I said it feels like a manual is only on the initial take off though as it feeds in the power and applies the clutches. If this was your father's slush box I would not have even considered it and had to configure a less desirable color.
I was torn between getting one with everything I could want and more or just the most basic one I could almost pay for completely in cash and drive away with it. The trouble is there is so little margin on the S that on A/Z plan nothing comes off of the price, and at least in the example of the Fiesta its very small and X is actually more than the sticker price.
If I had to do it again I might have waited for the ST, but the rest of the 13 line up is a bust as they bundled everything into one super package.